Upon awakening with a start in an icy bathtub in a strange room--with a woman's dead body inconveniently nearby--John Murdoch can't remember how he got there. With a police detective hot on his trail and a psychiatrist skulking around, Murdoch discovers that the key to his mystery is the presence of strange extraterrestrial creatures, the Strangers, who are experimenting with the memories of the humans in his city--from which there may be no escape.
Directed by: Alex Proyas
. Starring: Rufus Sewell
, William Hurt
, Kiefer Sutherland
, Jennifer Connelly
, Richard O'Brien
, Ian Richardson
, Bruce Spence
, Colin Friels
, John Bluthal
, Mitchell Butel
, Melissa George
, Frank Gallacher
, Ritchie Singer
. Music by: Trevor Jones
Watching DC brought to my memory a thought experiment Borges proposed some 60 years ago: imagine that Creation took place only 5 min. ago and that all memory, proof, we have of a past before that has been implanted on us, planted there. It seems an absurd idea, but one we got no way to disproof, as we are hopelessly anchored in the present, prisoners of the "now" instant. I don't know if Proyas was aware of Borges' work when writing his script--but this proves anyway that he was aware of the same paradox. (BTW, I don't think memories have anything to do with our essential beings. I'm a firm believer in ours existences being--deep down--absolute, unchangeable, unaffected by any contingency).
I watched DC once and I dismissed it like just another pretentious cartoon. But then I read some reviews here, which made me take a 2nd, and then a 3rd look at it and what do you know: it started looking like something of a classic. But to conclusively recognize it as such we first have to submit it to a rigorous test to verify if it fills up the requirements. So let me get hold of my Masterpiece Measuring Tape (MPMT) now...there. Now, the 1st condition a MP must fulfill is that of coming in a tight package--it must show great internal coherence and consistency--and be also top loaded with metaphors, symbolism; and be fully contained in its first scene. DC fulfills these requirements but only if we see it in a totally different way from which some reviewers have been seen it. This isn't about a super hero, see, but about a man who is unconscious, dying, or maybe dead. (Sorry, but you asked for it).
There are only two things, we know, submerged in perennial darkness: the Earth's interior and, metaphorically, the subconscious mind. Now, it amazes me how so many reviewers have missed the point that this story couldn't be possibly happening in the physical world. All this is happening in John's SM, people! Or rather in the twilight region where his SM rejoins the collective, Jungian, SM. All happens in reverse here. When everyone sleeps, they are really awake, minding heir daily businesses, while the bald ones set the stage for their dreams of the ensuing night--so a couple will dream of being slobs one night and rich the next; one guy will be a hotel clerk and then a newspaper vendor. When you see things this way everything makes sense. It explains also why the strangers are inconsistent in the use of their powers, weapons, and why these vary so. Freud would have enjoyed DC, he who declared that dreams don't create, provoke, emotions--fear, sadness--but that the opposite is truth: our SM uses dreams to let out preexisting emotions. That's why the balance of power JohnStrangers varies so much, as it's expressing the emotional undercurrents in his own SM rather than material conflicts with his environment. Ex.: if he's able to build a whole planet, why didn't he simply melt the knife in Anna's throat instead of meekly surrendering? Ans: because he had to go through that final showdown, which was part of what he had to live. (as the baldies are there mainly to make him act out his fears, phobias, beliefs).
All DC is happening in a collective dream state, from the POV of one of the dreamers, who is dwelling now permanently there. So we may assume that John is, either unconscious, dying, or even dead as he can't sleep--i.e. wake up to the physical world. He seems installed now for good in what the esoteric call Astral Plan, which we visit each night in our dreams and to which we'll go when dying. All this is suggested in the beginning. The first shots show a naked John, exhibiting his intimate parts. Then, the most telling metaphor: the crashing fishbowl and he taking the fish to the bath tube, meaning he himself has suffered a serious, maybe mortal accident and that his SM is using the occasion to open new doors; doors that may lead to a greater, more vast, reality, the spiritual world. That's wasn't just an artsy license, the crashed bowl as with "I'm dying, John" encapsulates the entire plot.
Maybe Freud would have called the Strangers the many faces of the Id, as they appear just like multiple reflections in a mirror, of a single entity. They are not John's enemies but his own dark undercurrents; his animal, primal side if you will, desperately struggling for survival. That's why "I'm dying" is crucial. Everybody may interpret the ending their own way. To an esoteric mind, John's final victory means he has purified his soul, let perish his own beastly part. But a clinical view could be that he uses his last energies to build a love story with a mental creation of his won--Emma--so he may leave this world happy. Or you may assume he has recuperated and that he"ll be happy in the real world, with a real Anne (maybe the right one, as it's his love for her what makes him finally sleep--or wake up.) Take your pick.
If all this is true, where it leaves the cops? They are the only ones keeping their "identities", besides Anna. Are they mental creations? Real people dreaming? They are likely the first, as their only job here seems to be to bring out the anguish, face to death, in John's psyche & soul.
A likely classic, if interpreted this way or some other alike. A 810 with special mention for the superb visuals and the uber gorgeous--Mmmm--lounge singer.
Oh, and I would much appreciate people refraining from making imbecile comments, such as those of jeroen-106.
Review by felixoteiza from the Internet Movie Database.