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Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 1
Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 2
Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 3
Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 4
Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 5
Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 6
Dark City, ESL Lesson, page 7

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Movie poster for Dark City at Movies Grow English for ESL LessonsDark City Logo (1998) ****
(focus on reality perception)                 

In this sci-fi mystery, based on Plato's Allegory of the Cave, John Murdock (Rufus Sewell) awakens at the center of a shifting landscape of eternal darkness where one's memories seem false and incomplete at best.  Inspector Bumstead (William Hurt) wants Murdock for a murder he can't remember committing, and Murdock has a wife (Jennifer Connelly) he barely knows.  Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland) is the only person who has any idea what's going on, and who the mysterious Strangers are, in this unusual hero's journey of discovery.  Directed by Alex Proyas -- a neo-noir classic!  Rated R (100 min.) mike laib 2014.

This lesson contains 16 movie quotes.  Who says what?
There are 39 Academic Word List entries (AWL*).

What are the elements of a science-fiction classic?
Name some famous sci-fi classics.

"First there was darkness.  Then came the Strangers."

 1. ultimate*--best possible
Emma Murdoch at Dark City for Movies Grow English, ESL Lessons  2. alter*--change
 3. will--(n.) brain power
 4. decline*--become weaker
 5. abandon*--leave behind
 6. conduct*--manage

According to Dr. Daniel Poe Schreber, who are the Strangers?
What work does Dr. Schreber conduct?

When Murdock awakens, what does he discover?
 7. automat--vending-machine cafeteria           
 8. retrieve--find a lost item
 9. tidy--neat and in order
10. cash on the barrelhead--immediate payment (idiom) Emma Murdoch

What do the Strangers want?

"Like a flower bending in the breeze, bend with me."

11. grapple--struggle
John Murdoch at Dark City for Movies Grow English, ESLNLesson 12. stem from--come from a source
13. delusional--has a false sense of reality
14. contact*--connect and talk

In Dr. Schreber's office, what does he tell Emma Murdock about her husband?
What does Emma think?

15. inspector*--detective
16. heebie-jeebies--nervous fear (informal)
17. mug--nameless face

At the automat, how does Murdock retrieve his wallet?

18. hooker--prostitute (slang)                               

"What kind of killer stops to save a dying fish?"

19. paranoia--fear without logic

What does Inspector Bumstead think of Detective Walenski?
Who is Bumstead looking for?

20. appropriate*--good for a situation
21. shoot--mild expletive (like "darn")

Why does Murdock become interested in Shell Beach?
Describe Murdock's Shell Beach encounter with the Strangers.

"It is said he is able to tune."

22. on occasion--sometimes
23. erratic--unpredictably

Under the city, what do the Strangers discuss?
24. appreciate*--feel thankful
25. assume*--conclude with no proof
26. affair--secret romance

At home, how well does Murdock seem to know Emma, his wife?

27. seek*--search for
28. moisture--wetness
29. syringe--tool for removing blood
30. fragments--broken pieces
31. procedure*--course of action
32. round (him) up--find and capture (phrasal verb)

"This is no stray, doctor.  This one can tune."

33. process*--(v.) make
34. template--basic design
35. inconsistency*--unpredictable action (see 23.)

Why does Dr. Schreber meet the stranger at the pool?
What does the stranger want of Schreber?

36. streetwalker--prostitute (see 18.)

"Whoever I am, I'm still me.  I'm not a killer."

Despite the evidence, why does Emma believe John Murdock's story?
Dr. Schreber at Dark City According to the cab driver, where is Shell Beach?

37. assistance*--help
38. strike--give a strong impression
39. accustomed to--familiar with
40. pointer--piece of advice
41. fastidious--aware of small details
42. consumed*--focused

What does Dr. Schreber notice about
Inspector Bumstead?

43. unravel--come apart

"It's like I've just been dreaming this life,
and when I wake up, I'll be somebody totally different."

What does Eddie Walenski tell Frank Bumstead about the case, about the city, about who he is?May, the prostitute at Dark City for Movies Grow English

44. requirement*--(n.) need
45. requisite--for a special need
46. recollection--memory
47. evolutionary*--life advancement
48. adapt*--change for a situation

Under the city, why are the Strangers so concerned with John Murdock?
How do the Strangers prepare to tune?  Describe the process.

49. commence*--begin
50. quarters--living space
51. presume*--make a strong guess

"listen to me,  John.  You have their power."

52. consciously--with awareness
53. impression--perception
54. lollygag--waste time (informal)
55. option*--choice

"I have John Murdoch in mind."

How do Mr. Hand and the Strangers plan to capture Murdock?
Who does Murdock meet at the news stand?

56. irrational*--not logical
57. indulge--satisfy a desire

In the subway station, what happens between Murdock and detective Walenski?

58. require*--(v.) need (see 44.)
59. haunted--obsessed

--MIDPOINT (At the Neptune Kingdom)--

60. cracker barrel--simple brain
61. scribble--write fast

"They're dead,  Johnny.  They died when the house burnt down."

What does Uncle Karl show John on the slide show?
What does the scar on John's arm mean?

62. capable*--able to act
63. peculiar--odd
64. distress--worry and pain
65. revise*--change
66. refine*--make better
67. inhabitant--resident
68. vessel--container

"We need to be like you.  We use your dead as vessels."

With Murdoch's knife at his throat, what does Mr. Hand tell Murdoch?

Inspector Bumstead, ESL Lesson

69. ring any bells--cause a memory (idiom)

At police headquarters, what do Bumstead and Murdoch talk about?

70. vividly*--clear like a picture
71. fake--pretend
72. track down--find
73. congratulate--give praise
74. eventually*--sooner or later    

"It's one of the few places I'm allowed a moment's peace."

75. aversion--strong dislike
76. phobia--fear
77. inject--insert a needle
78. disturbed--troubled

At the pool, where do Bumstead, Schreber, and Murdoch decide to go?

79. abduct--take by force

"This city and everyone in it is their experiment."

80. divine--(v.) guess and discover
81. unique*--special
82. observe--watch carefully
83. sum*--total amount
84. coincidence*--chance events

On the small boat, what does Dr. Schreber say about the Strangers?

"You just happened to wake up while I was imprinting you with this life."

85. capacity*--power to define our existenceMr. Hand at Dark City
86. brink--very near
87. extinction--collective death
88. focus*--concentrate
89. telepathic--brain energy
90. extract*--remove
91. intricacy--small detail
92. delete--remove
93. illusion*--false idea
94. fabrication--falsehood, lie

On the boat, what does Dr. Schreber
say about himself?  About John Murdoch?

"None of us remember what we once were, what we might have been."Mr. Book at Dark City foir Movies Grow English, ESL Lesson

What truth does John Murdoch discover at "Shell Beach"?
In Bumstead's final moment, what does he experience?

95. phase*--chapter in a process
96. subject--person being examined
97. collective--all together (see 87.)
98. insert*--put into another thing (see 77.)
99. prevail--win     

Under the city, how does Dr. Schreber mislead the Strangers with John Murdoch?

100. amplify--make stronger

How do Murdoch's new imprints change him?
How does this change empower Murdoch?

101. facility*--workplace
102. concentrate*--think hard and clear (see 88.)

"You wanted to know what it was that made us human. 
You went looking in the wrong place."

How does Murdoch use his tuning power to change the habitat?
Why does John Murdoch want to find Shell Beach?
Why is Dark City considered a cult-classic sci-fi film?

What do the Strangers want, and why do they fail? (essay question)


Pier near Shell Beach for Dark City, ESL Movie lesson

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Acknowledgement: Movie quotes herein are respectfully attributed to the movie and its screenwriter(s).  Along with all images, they are made available under fair use solely to enhance the education purpose of this English lesson, as it was intended.

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