About The Production
Directed by Alex Proyas, Dark City is produced by Andrew Mason and Proyas and based on a story by Proyas
Directed by Alex Proyas, Dark City is produced by Andrew
Mason and Proyas and based on a story by Proyas. The screenplay
is by Alex Proyas and Lem Dobbs (Kafka) and David S. Goyer
(The Substitute). The film's production designers are leading
Australian designer George Liddle and Patrick Tatopoulos (Independence
Day). Other key production personnel include longtime Proyas
collaborator costume designer Liz Keogh and two of Proyas' key
collaborators on The Crow, director of photography Dariusz
Wolski and editor Dov Hoenig.
Writer/director Alex Proyas set about imagining the Kafkaesque
world of Dark City before making The Crow, the acclaimed
and highly successful actionthriller starring the late Brandon
Lee. A lover of science fiction in his youth, Proyas had long
been intrigued by one of the genre's wilder branches, in which
the very nature of reality is called into question. "I always
thought that was a very powerful idea that hadn't been explored
in films," Proyas recalls.
"The paranoid aspect of the story came out of dreams I had
as a child that while I was asleep, dark figures would
come into my bedroom and rearrange things. Maybe the way I envisioned
it was a bit bizarre, but I think being afraid of the dark is
a very basic childhood fear. Whenever I'd come across that concept
in a book as a kid, it would haunt me and make me reexamine
the way I looked at things.
Proyas believes that fantasy and science fiction films should
allow filmmakers and audiences to think. "In literature,
science fiction has always been a genre for ideas that can alter
your perspective on things; in film it's almost never used for
that it's used to have big spaceships blow up cities.
I think we're a little tired of that," Proyas says.
A thoughtprovoking, existential screenplay, the story evolved
as Proyas worked on Dark City successively with Lem Dobbs (Steven
Soderbergh's Kafka) and David Goyer (New Line's upcoming
Blade). Recalls Proyas' longtime producing partner,
Andrew Mason, "tom comes from a very artistic and literary
background, so he was able to introduce a vast depth of humanity
into what was a very complicated plot. David Goyer sharpened the
material and made it more accessible."
In the process, the project's focus shifted significantly. "The
idea I initially had was a story about a film noir detective who's
on a case that doesn't quite jell," says Proyas. "As
he unearths more clues, he begins to discover the existence of
a mystery that challenges his very sanity."
During the months Proyas worked with Dobbs and Goyer, the emphasis
switched from the investigator to the harrowing mystery surrounding
John Murdoch. "I thought Murdoch was a more emotional viewpoint
for the story, whereas centering it on the detective made it more
cerebral and less visceral. The detective ended up being the character
played by William Hurt, who is still my favorite character in
the movie," says Proyas.
According to Proyas, Dark City is an ensemble piece, where
all the characters are strong. "You can examine the story
from anyone's perspective from Murdoch's perspective, or
Bumstead's, Schreber's or Emma's and it would be just as
interesting. We played with all those points of view, and I knew
how the film would be told from each one, but I finally chose
Murdoch because having him in the center gave the other characters
the most room t
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