Dark City (1998)

Alex Proyas

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)

Murdoch wonders what his first name is. Oh yes, and whether or not he's a serial killer.
Emma wonders where Murdoch is
The Strangers
Bumstead's case hits the ceiling
Strangers have a really big head
Schreber stands with Strangers
"This won't hurt a bit."
Emma is menaced by a Stranger
A Stranger

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.

Schreber's Memoirs Dark City
"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." Bingo!
"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.

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