Screenplay by Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer, from a story by Alex Proyas
Rufus Sewell (Murdoch)
William Hurt (Inspector Bumstead)
Kiefer Sutherland (Dr. Schreber)
Jennifer Connelly (Emma)
Schreber City: paranoid schizophrenia in Dark City
In the film, actor Kiefer Sutherland plays psychiatrist Daniel Schreber. It's a clue to one of the most important sources of inspiration for the film. The real-life Daniel Schreber had plenty of experience with psychiatrists. He struggled with mental illness for years. Famed psychoanalyst Freud wrote about the turn-of-the-century figure in a book. He wasn't the only one; Schreber described his ailments vividly in his 1903 Memoirs of My Nervous Illness.
|"a conspiracy may have arisen...to the detriment of the Schreber race."
|Murdoch is the target of a conspiracy.
|"wandering clocks, that is to say souls of departed heretics..."
|Clocks are a key symbol.
|"in me he [Schreber's psychiatrist Flechsig] was dealing with a human being of high intellect"
|Psychiatrist Schreber is dealing with Murdoch, a human being with superior mental powers.
|Aliens are attracted to what's inside Schreber's head.
|Aliens are attracted to what's inside Murdoch's head.
|"'scorpions' were repeatedly put into my head, tiny crab- or spider-like structures."
|Weird, tentacled creatures exist inside the Strangers' heads.
|"the concept of soul murder...to take possession of another person's soul in order to prolong one's life at another soul's expense, or to secure some other advantages that outlast death."
|The Strangers plan to take possession of Murdoch's soul in order to live.
|"the inner table of my skull was lined with a different brain membrane in order to extinguish my memory of my own ego."
|The Strangers mess with people's brains in order to extinguish their memories of their own identities.
|"I was cast in several roles consecutively: a 'Hyperborian woman,' a 'Jesuit Novice in Ossegg,' a 'Burgomaster of Klattau,' 'an Alsatian girl who had to defend her honour against a victorious French officer,' and finally 'a Mongolian Prince.'"
|Dark City-dwellers play different roles consecutively after their memories are switched around.
|"One day--in bright daylight--I saw from my window directly in front of the walls of the building where I lived, a magnificient portico arise, just as if the whole building were going to be transformed into a fairy palace."
|The Strangers' machine allows them to transform whole buildings.
|"It was as if single nights had the durations of centuries."
|Murdoch points out that night lasts forever in Dark City.
|Schreber fears his mind is being warped by his psychiatrist Flechsig.
|Murdoch fears his mind will be warped by his psychiatrist Schreber.
|"I pondered over such possibilities as that the whole of Flechsig's Asylum or perhaps the city of Leipzig with it had been "dug out" and moved to some other celestial body."
|"In this process [transmigration of souls] the human souls concerned were called to a new human life on other planets, presumably by being born in the manner of a human being, perhaps retaining some dim memory of their earlier existence."
|Human beings live a new life out in space, but don't retain memories their earlier existence.
|"mankind and all its activities have only been artificially maintained..."
|Dark City-dwellers are artificially maintained.
|"I had to solve one of the most intricate problems ever set of man and that I had to fight a sacred battle for the greatest good of mankind."
|Murdoch must fight a battle of good and evil for humans.
|"I gained the conviction that soul murder had been attempted on me by somebody, albeit unsuccessfully."
|The Strangers' plan to take possession of Murdoch's soul is unsuccessful.
|"I can produce pictures ... of persons, animals and plants... so that these images become visible either inside my head or if I wish, outside."
|Murdoch's mental powers enable him to rearrange matter to produce the sun, the ocean, the beach.