…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World
I recently watched the movie City of Ember for the first time, although it was released back to 2008. It’s based on the 2003 novel The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, which I haven’t read, but I may well do so with the hope of finding further insight.
To begin with, I found the film to be charming and I quite enjoyed the steam-punky feel to the city/sets, and the cobbled-together-ness of the inhabitants’ technology and they had to ‘made do and mend’. As the film progressed towards its conclusion I started to get feelings of an overly complicated plot, consisting of elaborate hurdles over-which the main characters had to leap – ones which seemed only necessary for dramatic visual effect, but seemed beyond the realms of believableness.
This was the second film I had watched that incorporated tools of excess, with the attempt to provide us, the viewe,r with more of a spectacle. The previous film was Unknown, in which a “man (Dr. Martin Harris) awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife), believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.” That all sounds ok, except the writer(s) decided to turn this man into a Jason Bourne-type character, which in the case of Liam Neeson, who played Dr. Martin Harris, just wasn’t believable as some sort of super-soldier.
The City of Ember is an underground city where the inhabitants are put there for safety and are supposed to only remain there for two-hundred years, but over the course of time the instructions for the inhabitants are misplaced and forgotten about and the city’s generator begins to fail. Luckily the instructions are found, although degraded by the passage of time, and they are followed by a couple of children leading to their escape/departure from the city. The instructions and the method of departure from Ember, consisting of lockers turning onto boats, disguised diagrams on floors, and a sequence of switches and levers to be pulled in a control room that seemed to have no other reason for being there (other than to hinder their departure), are overly complicated and the various hurdles they have to overcome seem to only be played out to provide the viewer with entertainment, but surely anyone with their own mind would question “why did the builder’s of Ember make it that way?” Perhaps I am just too grown up to fully appreciate such spectacles.
Thankfully, once Ember had finished I was able to glean deeper points of interest from the film, compared to Unknown (whose title had slipped into obscurity by the time I came to write this piece). These points are as follows:
I found it quite remarkable that these messages were shouting out so clearly to me from such a film, when many films seem to do the opposite and blind us from such truths.
More on the City of Ember: