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Essay on Special Effects in Dark City

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Dark City, directed by Alex Proya, is a sci-fi thriller full of visually extravagant and atmospheric special effects. The film illustrates a metropolis where its human inhabitants are always engulfed in the nightlife darkness because the sun does not exist. The city is controlled by extraterrestrials known as the Strangers, who disguise themselves as humans and are devoted to researching the human race via manipulation and experimentation. Dark City has a shadowy tone and comic book feel, which is reflected by all the film elements used by Proya. Working with the gloomy visuals, peculiar audio, abnormal camera angles and with many other filming techniques, Proya allows the audience to recognize that the film is dark in its nature. A critical factor of portraying this message is the mise-en-scene. Proya uses mise-en-scene to construct meaning, keep the audience off guard, and to generate a response by allowing them to empathize with the emotions of the characters.
This is immediately noticeable in the opening sequence of the film when the character of Doctor Shrieber is introduced. In the first several minutes, the audience is exposed to a series of scenes consisting of mise-en-scene elements that point to the character's frame of mind, emotions and possibly their final destiny. For instance, Shreiber opens his pocket-watch and the camera zooms in to show a close up of its face. Next, chaotic music starts playing and the view of cityscape is revealed with cars, subways, and the large crowds of people constantly moving. Suddenly, the hands on the pocket-watch indicate its midnight and everything in the city abruptly comes to a halt. The rail transportation and automobiles roll to a complete stop and the city’s residents fall asleep...


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... such as, upright flying, teeth grinding, and phlegmatic movements also add to the horror feeling. Their appearance can be described as having a very pale skin tone with sharp teeth, and their attire usually consists of long black coats, gloves, and Homburg hats. The clothing and characteristics Proyas provided to the Strangers helps develop the wickedness that surrounds them.



Works Cited

• "Dark City :: Rogerebert.com :: Great Movies." Rogerebert.com :: Movie Reviews, Essays and the Movie Answer Man from Film Critic Roger Ebert. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. .
• Lippe, By Adam. "Dark City." A Regrettable Moment of Sincerity. Web. 18 Oct. 2010. .
• Mise En Scène - Windows Live. Web. 20 Oct. 2010. .


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