Well, if Jean-Pierre Juenet and Marc Caro aren’t going to make movies together anymore, I’ll settle for the talented Gil Kenan’s (hopefully inspired) approximation of their aesthetic – which was on permanent loan from Terry Gilliam anyway.
Where Harry Knowles sees Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (certainly concur on the dying civilization angle), I can’t help but get caught up in the warm memories of a time when it looked like Juenet & Caro were going to favor us with inventively junky dystopias every few years. Sadly, the two went their separate ways, and it’s been nothing but diminishing returns ever since (though I must admit to preferring A Very Long Engagement to the cloying Amelie; as for Caro, I hope Dante 01 isn’t a complete miss). Watching the trailer for City of Ember, I get the sense that Kenan’s as beat up over this as I am; and while the kid lit quest narrative comes off as overly familiar (definitely some Goonies in there), his malfunctioning, underground universe looks like a place worth getting lost in for a couple hours. Hell, with Bill Murray as the head of state, it looks like the kind of place I’d want to live the rest of my life.
20th Century Fox and Walden Media will roll out City of Ember on October 10, 2008.
A note from Devin: Last year I went to the set of City of Ember in Belfast, Ireland, and was hugely impressed by the design and size of the sets. There were four story tall buildings in the same mammoth structure where the Titanic was put together. You could walk through the streets of the City of Ember and be utterly transported to this world.
While on set, the issue of where City of Ember was located was dodged a lot, and then we managed to sneak a peek at some storyboards which revealed the secrets of the film, which we were asked to keep to ourselves. I was happy to honor that request – no good could come from spoiling a movie like this, with a real vision behind it.
And then the trailer gives that same secret away two seconds in, on a title card. Sort of amazing. I joked at the time that this is what would happen, but I didn’t imagine it really really would…