Dark City (1998 film)

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Hey, do you know the way to Shell Beach?

Dark City is a 1998 science fiction film set in a city of perpetual night, whose inhabitants are repeatedly given new, artificial memories by mysterious beings called the Strangers.

Directed by Alex Proyas. Written by Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs, and David S. Goyer.
A world where the night never ends. Where man has no past. And humanity has no future. taglines
First there was darkness. Then came the Strangers.
The only place home exists is in your head.
You have their power. You can make things happen by will alone. They call it "Tuning."
Together We can stop them, we can take the city back.
I love you John, you can't fake something like that.

John Murdoch[edit]

  • Maybe I have lost my mind, but whoever I am, I'm still me and I'm not a killer.
  • Hey, you happen to know the way to Shell Beach?
  • Daylight. When was the last time you remember seeing it? And I'm not talking about some distant, half-forgotten childhood memory. I mean like yesterday? Last week? When? Can you come up with a single memory? You can't, can you? You know something? I don't think the sun even exists in this place, because I've been up for hours and hours and hours and the night never ends here.

Dr. Daniel P. Schreber[edit]

  • Tonight's requirements are: family photo albums, nine personal diaries, love letters, assorted childhood photographs, ID's and social security cards. [examining a sample of memory serum] These do bring back memories. This one is still warm. What is it? The recollections of a great lover? A catalog of conquests? We will soon find out. You wouldn't appreciate that, would you, Mr. Whatever your name is? Not the sort of conquests you would ever understand. Let's see: a touch of unhappy childhood; ah, a dash of teenage rebellion; and last, but not least, a tragic death in the family.
  • Weren't you looking for the human soul? That's the purpose of your little zoo, isn't it? That's why you keep changing people and things around every night. Maybe you have finally found what you are looking for, and it's going to bite you on your—
  • First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They abducted us and brought us here. This city, everyone in it, is their experiment. They mix and match our memories as they see fit, trying to divine what makes us unique. One day, a man might be an inspector; the next, someone entirely different. When they want to study a murderer, for instance, they simply imprint one of their citizens with a new personality — arrange a family for him, friends, an entire history, even a lost wallet. Then they observe the results. Will a man, given the history of a killer, continue in that vein? Or are we, in fact, more than the mere sum of our memories?
  • When they first brought us here, they extracted what was in us so they could store the information, remix it like so much paint, and give us back new memories of their choosing. But they still needed an artist to help them. I understood the intricacies of the human mind better than they ever could, so they allowed me to keep my skills as a scientist because they needed them, but they made me delete everything else. Can you imagine what it is like being forced to erase your own past?
  • Now remember what I told you: Never talk to strangers.

Inspector Frank Bumstead[edit]

  • So, Husselbeck, what kind of killer do you think stops to save a dying fish?
  • Nothing like a little healthy paranoia.
  • No one ever listens to me.

Mr. Hand[edit]

  • On occasion the imprinting does not take. They behave erratically when they awaken. We find them wandering like lost children.
  • There's work to be done.
  • We fashioned this city on stolen memories: different eras, different pasts all rolled into one. Each night, we revise it, refine it, in order to learn.
  • You've seen what we are. We use your dead as vessels.
  • You see, I have become the monster you were intended to be.

Det. Eddie Walenski[edit]

  • See, I've been trying to remember things — clearly remember things from my past — but the more I try to think back, the more it all starts to unravel. None of it seems real. It's like I've just been dreaming this life, and when I finally wake up I'll be somebody else: somebody totally different.
  • They steal people's memories, you know? Then they swap them around between us. I've seen them do it! Back and forth, back and forth, until no one knows who they are anymore.

Mr. Book[edit]

  • He is powerful, yes — dangerous — but he can also lead us to what we seek: what the doctor calls the soul. It is time for our experiment to move into a final phase.
  • Shut it down! Shut it down forever!


[At a murder scene]
Inspector Frank Bumstead: What's that make so far, Husselbeck? Six hookers in all?
Husselbeck: I believe so, sir.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: Give the man an "A" for effort.

Husselbeck: Well, everything Detective Walenski committed to paper should be here, so...
Inspector Frank Bumstead: The only thing that should be committed is Walenski.

John Murdoch: What you do seems kind of dangerous right now. I mean, how do you know I'm not the killer?
May: You don't seem like the killer type. Why? You feeling any urges I should know about?

Mr. Wall: No more Mr. Quick. Mr. Quick, dead, yes.
Stranger: Poor, poor Mr. Quick.

Inspector Frank Bumstead: I've met quite a few murderers in the course of my work. Murdoch doesn't strike me as one.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Perhaps you are not accustomed to digging deep enough.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: Well, I do know when someone is lying to me, Doctor.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Forgive me, Inspector, but you are not a clinician. Judging personalities happens to be my business.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: Well, maybe you could give me a few pointers.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Certainly. Let's take you, for instance. You are a fastidious man, driven. Consumed by details. I would say your life is rather lonely.

Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: I have a weak heart, you know.
Mr. Hand: Your weakness is not, we think, an affair of the heart.

Inspector Frank Bumstead: You saw something, didn't you, Eddie? Something to do with the case?
Det. Eddie Walenski: There is no case! There never was! It's all just a big joke! It's a joke!

[Mr. Hand has been imprinted with Murdoch's memories]
Mr. Book: Is it done?
Mr. Hand: Oh, yes, Mr. Book. I have John Murdoch in mind.

Mr. Hand: We're very lucky, when you think about it.
Emma Murdoch: I'm sorry?
Mr. Hand: To be able to revisit those places which have meant so very much to us.
Emma Murdoch: I thought it was more that we were haunted by them.
Mr. Hand: Perhaps. But imagine a life alien to yours, in which your memories were not your own but those shared by every other of your kind. Imagine the torment of such an existence: no experiences to call your own. If it was all you knew, maybe it would be a comfort.

Emma Murdoch: What brings you here?
Mr. Hand: I met my wife at this place.
Emma Murdoch: It's where I first met my husband.
Mr. Hand: Small world.

Emma Murdoch: I love you, John. You can't fake something like that.
John Murdoch: No, you can't.

Desk Sergeant: How can we help you, sir?
Mr. Hand: You can sleep!

Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Inspector, he is more disturbed than we thought.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: I may not be the judge of personality that you are, Doctor, but you're the one who looks disturbed to me.

Mr. Wall: We will give you some more pretty things soon, Anna.
Emma Murdoch: I'm not Anna.
Mr. Wall: You will be soon, yes.

Mr. Hand: I'm dying, John. Your imprint is not agreeable with my kind. But I wanted to know what it was like — how you feel.
John Murdoch: You know how I was supposed to feel. That person isn't me. Never was. You wanted to know what it was about us that made us human. Well, you're not going to find it...[taps head] in here. You went looking in the wrong place.

About Dark City (1998 film)[edit]

  • I started off with this idea of a detective who was on a case that didn't make any logical sense and because he was an incredibly logical man he started going nuts. He thought he was going insane because the facts were just not adding up and they were pointing to some larger mystery that his brain just couldn't deal with.
  • I remember exactly when I got the idea. I was standing on the set of "The Crow" and we had built this roof-top set because we didn't have a great budget we just build these one-third scale buildings that we moved around on wheels so after we did a shot, we'd move them all around so we could make the background look different so we could shoot different scenes and you wouldn't see the same building in the background all the time.
I remember standing there on the set and watching these buildings just move, because you couldn't see the guys moving them, so all you could see was just the building sliding across the set. And I just remember thinking that was really cool and I'd have to use that in some way. So I stuck it into this movie.
  • Well, the first draft had a fairly bleak end to the film, where the bad guys won at the end, but I just didn't like it. As I explored the story more and more it was about the individual's triumph in this world where individuality is being suppressed. Once I got into that mode there was no question that Murdoch had to win in the end and kind of wrest the power away from the strangers.


  • They built the city to see what makes us tick. Last night one of us went off.
  • Forget the Sun. Forget Time. Forget Your Memories.
  • A world where the night never ends. Where man has no past. And humanity has no future.
  • You are not who you think you are.


External links[edit]

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