Sunday, 12 March 2017

DARK CITY (THE DIRECTOR'S CUT): CHARACTERISATION, SYMBOLISM AND AESTHETICS

Spoiler Alert: I hope you have all watched Dark City by now, as I discuss the film's big revelation in this article.

 


 

In the last article on Alex Proyas' 1998 film Dark City, we took a general look at its meaning and themes from an Alt Right perspective. In this article, I wish to focus in on that increasingly marginalised subject regarding the philosophy of art: aesthetics. Take any course in the arts and humanities at university level now and I would be astonished if any professor touches upon it - unless it is as part of deconstruction theory or post-structuralism, where all positive notions of Occidental cultural are torn down before students have even begun to appreciate what they really are. This has let to a complete detachment of form and style from content, where often arbitrary and deeply pretentious labels and descriptions are attached to museal artwork that has no content in and of itself, as I noted in my tour of the Saatchi Gallery.

 

Dark City is one of those dangerous things: a film that marries content to aesthetics in the European tradition. This is one of the many reasons, some of which I explored in the last article, why Dark City is an implicitly white film. In terms of content and its relation to aesthetics, one has inevitably to look at symbolism and characterisation. Let us start with some of the decisions Alex Proyas made for the film and juxtapose them with the film's directly comparable and more commercially successful successor The Matrix, as envisaged by the gender-bending Wachowski Brothers. I will never understand the Alt Right's fascination with The Matrix. Please spread the word about Dark City.

 

 

We have already touched upon the racial homogeneity of Dark City's cast as opposed to the "diversity" of the cast of The Matrix in the last article. It is worth noting, though, the archetypes presented and how they relate to the racial undertones within the films. In The Matrix, there are three main protagonists, to which is attached a religious symbolism, hence the female is called Trinity. One notes she, the woman, is the only White, sandwiched between a Negro male and a Hapa male. The Negro, played by Laurence Fishbourne, is called Morpheus, the god of sleep, and plays the wise old man archetype to Keanu Reeves' Hapa hero archetype. They very much share the same relationship as Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Trinity, played by Carrie-Anne Moss represents the new artificially created archetype of politically correct postmodernity, the "Mary-Sue". Indeed, their names are also artificial and used as signifiers. Neo and Trinity, the miscegenating couple, equally represent in name and purpose the coupling of the New as quasi-religion through miscegenation, presided over by the "wise" Negro.

 

This is all within The Matrix. But there is, of course, the real-life matrix behind this fiction. Indeed, when one looks, there are three matrices: the one within the film, the film itself and the martix that creates the film - a trinity. Morpheus is the highest authority within the film (we're just looking at the first one here), but he acts as intermediary between those outside of the film and the protagonists within the film, hence his name as a godhead. He serves to structure and control narrative, and whom he serves is the Wachowski Brothers. The Wachowski Brothers in turn serve producer and Hollywood mogul (((Joel Silver))). The name Morpheus is interesting, for the god Morpheus is the god of dreams, yet the Morpheus of The Matrix allegedly awakens those who are asleep. There are levels of irony involved here, for the matrix of the cinema theatre serves to induce its attendees into dreaming a false consciousness, the trick of this film being to sell the lie that the audience has experienced an awakening, while jacking them into the Hollywood matrix.

 

 

The archetypes in Dark City are completely different. While the hero and heroine have traditional roles as White Man and White Woman and within a traditional narrative, new archetypes from modernity emerge, which now too have been added to tradition: the detective, the nightclub singer and the mad scientist. The characters of Dark City, however, have far more complexity to them than mere types. They are rounded human beings. While the hero John Murdoch, played by Rufus Sewell, fulfills his role as hero type and emerging aristocrat, his loss of memory means he also spends the first half of the film completely bewildered. His wife, while devoted and fulfilling traditional roles, also works as a nightclub singer. William Hurt's detective, Inspector Frank Bumstead, grows as a character, as he breaks out of his fuctional gumshoe mould, joining with Murdoch's quest to leave the confines of the city. Dr Daniel Schreber reversed the mad scientist narrative, becoming ever more empathic and sympathetic, eventually taking on the role as sage to the hero.

 

The antagonists, the Strangers, however, are very much personifications of specific signifiers that form a whole, rather like all the "red-pilled" characters within The Matrix. This reflects their alien hive mind and they also have names that reflect their functions within the narrative, as opposed to those of The Matrix, whose names reflect the meta-narrative. Mr Book, played by Ian Richardson, for example, gives instruction, while Mr Hand (Richard O'Brian) carries out important tasks. The Strangers have a particular aesthetic - a blend of the vampire Nosferatu, the Cenobytes in Hellraiser and Riff Raff from The Rocky Horror Show, hence Richard O'Brian's role. It also perhaps explains why Dark City was mistakenly marketed as a horror film.

 

 

Nosferatu immediately recalls German expressionist film, as does the great inspiration for the city: Metropolis. Alex Proyas stated this was his chief inspiration, as was one of Fritz Lang's other films, M. On the side that tends more towards realism in German expressionism, one finds the intermediary between the Gothic and Film noir, Dark City exploring the full range. The city itself, in contrast to The Matrix, was chiefly model-work and not CGI and therefore has a more authentic feel to it, even though the cityscapes of The Matrix are that of our own contemporary world. In keeping with the more abstract side of German expressionism, though, all the angles of the buildings and structures are slightly offset from perpendicular, which subconsciously unsettles the viewer. This becomes increasingly consciously noticeable as the protagonists travel towards the edge of the city, the city simultaneously becoming more claustrophobic and seemingly subterranean. The more sensitive and unstable Dr Schreber's agitation at this draws the audience in emotionally. This is very much reminiscent of the effect created in Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari.

 

Equally, the symbolism in Dark City is striking, even beyong characterisation. After the intitial prologue showing the city during tuning, followed by the opening credits, the film proper commences with a symbolic scene that foreshadows the rest of the film. The camera focuses in through a round window in one of the skyscrapers, where John Murdoch emerges from a bath with no memory, symbolising a new birth. While clumsily staggering around like a new-born animal, he knocks over a goldfish bowl, which shatters on the floor. He picks up the goldfish and places it into the bath. This simple scene does several things at once. Murdoch's act in saving the fish creates pathos in the viewer. He is revealed as a saviour figure, the role he will grow into. This small act at the beginning will be magnified exponentially at the end. Simultaneously, the goldfish is also symbolic of himself: he has no memory, goldfish being credited at having a memory of four seconds; he has just emerged into a wider world from the bath, as the goldfish is entering one by going into the bath, and Murdoch will find himself entering an even wider one by the film's climax; yet he is also, to begin with, a fish out of water, confused and flapping around with no direction.

 

 

Accidentally breaking the goldfish bowl also foreshadows the great revelation, where Murdoch, Bumstead and Schreber reach the edge of the city. As stated, it becomes increasingly claustrophobic and seemingly subterranean, which distracts the viewer from realising what is implied throughout the film. As Murdoch and Bumstead break down the outer wall covered by a poster for Shell Beach, the organic European American seaside resort floating around Murdoch's mind, the bricks fly out.....into the vacuum of space. The city is floating through space protected by a force field. It was logical all along: the permanent darkness, the claustrophobia, the foreshadowing - of which there was much. One of the aethetics throughout the film is the spiral form - marked on walls and dead bodies, in Bumstead's coffee, in the clouds, in Schreber's rat maze - the latter symbolising the Strangers' great experiment. The city, when at last seen fully from above, is revealed to be a spiral like Schreber's maze, the wispy clouds also spiralling above it. "There's no way out!" cries Bumstead's former partner, Detective Walenski, driven mad by the knowledge. He contrasts with Murdoch, this showing the two major contrasting reactions Alt Righters have upon being awakened to objective Truth.

 

In the world of The Matrix, despite the obvious advancement in technology, the world the humans have created is unaesthetic and the ships are no better than the Sentinels. Everything outside of the matrix is inorganic. One would have thought, given the technology at their disposal, the humans would have created either real organic things out of the slop they eat, or if impossible, at least organic aesthetics. Why, for example, do they have to wear boiler suits or basic rags, yet in Matrix Reloaded, we see in their base called Zion, they have "ethnic" jewellery in the party they throw? Why is the festival based on African dance? Why are the women predominantly White and the men predominantly Negroid? It is because this is the Wachowski Brothers' idyll, and the aesthetics they wish to promote are those of the ghetto, in addition to the Cyberpunk aesthetics within the matrix. When Murdoch recreates his small world in his own image, it is organic and intrinsically European American - that of Shell Beach. He tilts the spacecraft towards a sun, bringing light, in contrast to the great cave of Zion. If ours is to build a future for our form of humanity, for the children of the sun, then let it be Shell Beach and not Zion.

 

4 comments:

  1. The reaction of Walenski is more spot on than the reaction of "Ignorance is Bliss" Cypher. There are no Cyphers, really. There is no blue pill after the red pill.

    And Walenski's rejection of his waifu, during his descent into the black pill, was an interesting aspect of the character. Shell beach is a place you go, not alone, but with your Jennifer Connelly.

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  2. People seem to believe that Cyberpunk is an artifice created by authors like William Gibson. In Truth, its the dessicated ghetto of the burned out dead cities. Its interesting that irregardless of how they shine up this turd, with CGI, music, and pretty White girls, people only find it appealing at first and then repulsive thereafter. At least White people. The browning is the indirect result of White people not thriving or finding the slimy corpse of the ghetto appealing. Cyberpunk had 15 minutes of fame, after which the bad aftertaste killed it.
    Its racial, and built into the genes. The browning is the end result of the inbuilt higher standards of Whites not finding this shined up turd appealing. Third World Garbage fit right in. You see, the Matrix is just Hollyweird shinola. That false patina of chrome over a pile of shit. Once you get past its shine and the thin veneer, you can see the shit and not just smell it. It smells like Death and Failure. Only Third World Gutter trash are not repulsed by the smell. They are used to finding food in dumps and living in piles of shit.

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  3. Very enjoyable two parter review and analysis of this film. I'll need to revisit it once more. There was something about this film that struck a chord with me before and when I saw Matrix later it never had that connection, feeling more like a more shallow if enjoyable action flick at the time and your criticism and comparison to it within this review underlines that and helps give words to emotion and confusion as I learned more and thought about these matters and the world around us. It would seem a far better candidate than the red pill and Matrix themes for the Alt-Right to embrace. It helps me and others understand this and other art as well as what we are losing with his absence or replacement with alien substitutes. Destruction of the aristocrat and that spirit within the European people seems to be the key to everything that is going wrong. Without that spirit all becomes permissible and any slight or degradation possible. The true aristocrat being the white blood cells or immune system in general of the European body, preventing parasites and disease from taking hold or even cancer. In destroying the true aristocrat and aristocratic spirit we are left defenceless while that situation continues and the body decays. Thankfully it seems that for whatever reason that spirit has not been snuffed out completely fast enough for the European as a whole to be irreversibly destroyed.

    If it was possible the "can you tune?" would be a better meme to catch on than red pilled. The "red pill" might imply some contrary information and awareness, poorly defined as the Alt-Light and other potentially co-opted or simply mistaken elements of alternative media and groups would suggest. The "can you tune" concept is very much that of the unmistakable aristocrat who can go against the flow and shape the world and his people, the will that we need and the leadership that is what prevents us being rolled up like a carpet by others. "Red pilling" seems to lead to "black pilling" and dead ends of despair or funnelling money to Alex Jones or other figures which seem to have heavy connections to and love of non European tribes. We need Murdoch more than Neo or his comrades.

    You have highlighted a problem in your film reviews and topics something that is plaguing the art world in general now. We have film and art in general that is made to speak to the European soul in the past or now but it is frowned upon or dismissed as different tribes move in and take control of critique and guiding those worlds. They desire things that speak to a different soul and speak of another story and destiny.

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  4. The Saatchi Gallery tour was excellent. It'd be nice to see some more like that as not everyone has the grounding in the topics needed or the vocabulary to break down and discuss the topics of the arts as well as politics and social commentary, but although some might at times consider the arts somehow trivial as paint is not bread on a table, the arts can speak to the soul and shape us inside in ways far too many are somehow still unaware of now but those who broke down traditionalism years ago and continue to do so are fully aware of the power of the arts and the need to dominate it. There are many in this new right spectrum that bring unique talent and perspective to the table and I'd include you within that.

    I remember seeing a non Alt-Right youtuber comment on some of the modern gallery nonsense and the art that is now enshrined with in it (the same person also highlighted some rather worrying incompetence within the historical exhibits in museums too, which surely must lead to questions about the validity of conclusions and assumptions built upon those). He made the valid point that if the art requires a pamphlet of text to explain it to everyone who sees it and without it it is meaningless to any viewer then it probably doesn't mean anything at all and is either a deliberate scam or shoddy and without talent or craft. As he wasn't Alt-Right or True Right or too far from the mainstream he wasn't capable of reaching similar conclusions about art not speaking to the racial soul or the uniquely European culture and heritage, but I suspect many in the mainstream who criticise this art wouldn't be a million miles from realising or accepting these things if they weren't steeped from birth in lies and confusion about reality. People (in the mainstream) accept with visual art now what most even within that same group would never accept with the written form. We all accept with writing that you must learn the craft and that your writing gets better as you learn all about the craft and practice it. It gives at a minimum a better ability to express yourself in detail. Could I rattle out some badly spelled text and then have someone proclaim it as art and no one can criticise it for its form or lack of craft, instead having to accept the claimed meaning and depth of it as true? Somehow the visual arts in all its enormous range escapes this notion now and no craft and learning is needed, even to the point where you can simply have an idea and get someone else to craft it all for you, collecting it in the mail like a Chinese factory made trinket bought online now, I suppose. Millennial Woes mentioned this too, but I've heard it touched upon in news and documentary before many times too. If art is the soul of a people then what does this art say about our people and cultures?

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