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Special Effects In Dark City Essay

975 words - 4 pages

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 under a movie marquee showing a film entitled, The Evil. This shot creates the impression that some kind of malevolent event is occurring.
Furthermore, Proyas creates the setting of a city in which its environment is a fusion of various decades in time. This astonishes the viewers because they are not adapted to observing such dissimilar and unique structures. This intentional blend of culture throughout the diverse, bygone eras of modern America really contributes to create the feelings of confusion and mystery within the film. Also, the means by which the production design pulls off a distinctive look is through its exceptional lighting, layout of the cityscape, intense details and points of view. As the movie’s plot moves along, its eerie and obscure atmosphere gradually builds up with each scene. Moreover, the special effects and scenery help add to the atmosphere of confusion, fear and suspense. For example, at one point a man on a balcony gets crushed between two itinerant high-rises. A similar example would be the first time that the audience sees a creature resembling an alien crawl out of a man’s head after his skull is sliced by the mechanical billboard sign. Additionally, another instance would be during...

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