October 12, 2010 4 Comments
I hate to harp on the same old thing, but the same old thing always manifests in films, and deserves to be harped on. Often what is considered to groundbreaking and avant garde is really just the same old gnostic themes repackaged with different dressing. It seems that there is actually a lack of creativity when it comes to matters Hollywood. The Knowing was also reviewed here, an Alex Proyas film, but Dark City deserved a review as well, in my estimation, since it is particularly interesting in this regard.
Dark City presents a dream world, wherein a group of alien-like archons or angelic rulers/daemons known as the “Strangers” control manufactured city by “tuning” it every night, meaning the city is re-created and it’s rat-like inhabitants are implanted with new memories. They are able to conform physical reality by will alone (“tuning”), and one of their subjects, John Murdoch, eventually attains this ability. Immediately, we realize the basic theory of “magick” at work, which is the act of conforming reality to your will. However, the Strangers do it by telekenesis, and eventually so does John Murdoch.
“Dark City,” we discover, has perpetually been in a state of darkness – it is always night, and no one can recall when it was daytime. So we have the gnostic theme of demiurge(s) who have trapped a world in base darkness, where they lack their true godpowers. We see in the beginning a movie theater where films are playing named ‘The Evil” and “Nightmare,” cluing us into the fact that we are watching a movie that is essentially a nightmare. We see a hotel in which John Murdoch, the protagonist awakes nude in a bathtub, apparently being framed for a murder. However, this night is different, as it is Murdoch’s “awakening,” and from this point on, as he is chased by certain “Strangers,” Murdoch is able to “tune,” but this power is not yet under his control.
A cop is put on his case, Detective Bumstead, who picks up where a former cop had been working who went mad. His madness turned out to be a form of intense paranoia linked to a realization that all their reality was an illusion, and that they were the experiment of gnostic daemons. John decides he must find out about his origins, since he cannot recall his past, either. For him, this is a quest to find Shell Beach, where he grew up. The entire city is a circular spiral, it turns out, and Murdoch discovers Shell Beach did not exist, and that Dr. Schreber had been aiding the Strangers in implanting fake memories in people. Rather than interpreting this as some form of “Illuminati MKULTRA mind control programming,” which most “conspiracy” writers would do, what makes more sense is a cabalistic or Platonic notion of metempyschosis or transmigration of souls, wherein we must “remember” the state of deity from which we have come. Murdoch, Dr. Schreber tells him, has evolved to the point where he can tune reality at will. The reality in which they exist is like The Matrix, and is a giant machine that can be manipulated by telekenetic will. Similarities with the Matrix Trilogy will be apparent here. Read more of this post