In the Alex Proyas' movie Dark City (1998), Murdoch finds the fake Shell Beach poster and tries to find out what is beyond it by breaking it. But in the scenes that follow, the wall breaks and one of the aliens and Bumstead are thrown into outer space.

The force field does not stop them. But the same force field contains the oceans and the air of the Dark City. So,

  • Is the force field selective in nature?
  • Why would it allow the humans to fall into space and contain the oceans and air?
  • Is that a flaw in the story?
  • Or perhaps the force field only covers the non-walled areas. Aug 19, 2013 at 20:26
  • it is not so. The Force field seemed Spherical, with the city inside it. Aug 20, 2013 at 3:00
  • Did they actually mention a force field in the film? I always thought the city was held together by the psychic energy created by the Strangers and the machine they use to build/manipulate the city. This includes generating gravity, heat, and an atmosphere, as well as the sun and ocean seen in the end scene. A force field can't do all of that. Aug 21, 2013 at 3:36
  • They don't mention it in words. But when Bumstead is thrown into space he crosses an invisible boundary which seemed to glow. Aug 21, 2013 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


In the movie, the ocean did not exist before Murdoch conquered the Strangers. The Strangers designed the city's air pocket to be contained by a force field that ended within the boundary of the Shell Beach outer wall, the one to which you refer. This wall, when breached, was not selective; anything passing beyond it was lost in the vacuum of space. The fact that the wall could be breached at all suggests that the Strangers were being lazy and not incorporating extra reinforcements into the solid wall portion of the barrier, but saving their efforts for keeping the air contained by the 'clear' portion of the force field above the city.

However, when Murdoch is brought fully into his 'tuning' ability by Dr. Schreber's memory injection, he acquires what is essentially godlike power, and is capable of changing the city's physical constants. After winning against the Strangers, he does so by 1. widening the force field and air pocket to extend beyond the city walls, making it large enough to 2. include a newly created ocean outside the previous wall boundary. He then tilts the habitat toward the sun, allowing sunlight into the Dark City. (reference)

The story was not inconsistent; the boundary/force field itself was shifted to contain a larger area once Murdoch was in control of the Dark City. The new shape of the force field appears to be an oblate spheroid extending well past the original wall, but not substantially taller or deeper than it had been before. Hopefully Murdoch, as a benign demigod, incorporates measures to ensure that people don't actually sail or swim out into vacuum past the ocean, perhaps simply by making the force field impermeable to all matter. Since the force field no longer appears to be contiguous with any solid barriers, it is likely that this is the case.

  • Accepted. I forgot that Murdoch built the oceans!. Its the only way. Aug 21, 2013 at 8:22

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