If Atlantis was never written about, would deep-sea exploration flood the imagination with its mythology? If Katniss Everdeen were raised in District 2 would it have mattered that she took her sister’s place on Reaping Day? If Bruce Wayne had been from Albuquerque—New Mexico, folks—would Batman have been necessary? The setting for any story affects a character’s disposition and influences certain outcomes often over looked. The list below features 12 of the most interesting fictional cities to have graced the silver screen. Haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like to stroll through some of the greatest cities never to have existed? Think of this as a tour, from the assorted Plato’s Den to post-apocalyptic Earth, you never quite know what lurks between the alleyways and streets.
ATLANTIS (Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Gary Trousdale/Kirk Wise, 2001)
Of course this was making the list. I don’t care if you’re not a fan of the Disney film, neither am I, but this place would be immaculate to come across while practicing your scuba skills. One of the longest referenced and oldest cities on this list, Atlantis holds a sort of mystery that is appealing to both the logical and irrational. Throughout the centuries this is a place that has been referenced by some of the greatest minds and storytellers to have ever lived, from Plato to H.P. Lovecraft. Atlantis is something of a comedic anomaly given that it was a civilisation intellectually superior to the rest of the world yet was destroyed in the blink of an eye by a tsunami. I suppose meteorology wasn’t that important a science back in those days.
THE CITY (Dark City, Alex Proyas, 1998)
If you are a vampire or albino this might just be your kind of city. It is a place of perpetual midnight that never remains the same from one moment to the next. City dwellers must get used to the idea of experiencing amnesia and minor comas at the beginning of every new night. Think of it kind of like The Matrix or Total Recall, and experiences can simply be uploaded into the mind at the whim of psychokinetic demi-gods known as Strangers. As you wander down one street you may recognize London while another depicts New York City. As if getting lost in a big city wasn’t bad enough, imagine getting lost in five cities at once.
APE CITY (Planet of the Apes, Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968)
If you’re interested in masochism, domination and humiliation, Ape City may be the perfect place for you! Strip off those constraining and cumbersome clothes and get yourself fitted for rags that would make Adam and Eve blush because the thrills of being a slave have just begun. Ape City—cleverness knows no limits from this highly evolved simian race—is closer to a village than a city, looking more like the Flintstone’s home of Bedrock with further advancements in weapon technology than architecture or the creative arts. This post-apocalyptic Earth will no doubt lead way to interspecies relations as “Get your hands on me, you damn dirty ape!” is just a phrase of role-playing.
THE CAPITOL (The Hunger Games, Gary Ross, 2012)
The Capitol of Panem is home to the wealthiest and most powerful people of the nation. This fortress city is mammoth with several canals running through feeding a larger body of water residing outside the President’s mansion. Though this dictatorship run city doesn’t have a specific location it is surrounded by a mountain range, perhaps the Rockies, which would have provided defence against the uprising 74 years before. The Capitol is known for its fabulous food and fashion. The flamboyant colours of dyed hair and garish clothing would be enough to make Liberace blush. Everyone, men and women, wears vibrant and sparkling make-up; even pets are dyed to match the owner’s fashion. The food is equally dazzling, a cooked boar shining even in darkness and drinks with hues Kool-Aid’s chem lab couldn’t formulate. The city is truly alive during the Hunger Games and if this is where you’re going to die at least you get one hell of a going-away party.
ZION (The Matrix Reloaded, The Wachowski Bros, 2003)
So you’ve just found out the world is not what you thought it was, had your mouth momentarily removed and were told by a baptiser of knowledge that you are the chosen one to deliver all humanity to salvation. What are you going to do? Obviously it’s time to regroup and figure out the best plan of attack against this machine threat and what better way to make that happen than attend a super-orgy in the underground city of Zion? Although this may not seem like the most conducive place for the next Messiah to get his head straight it does seem like one hell of a party. Aside from the river of sweat that most certainly forms following the ritualistic fucking dance party, this doesn’t seem like a bad way to embrace the second apocalypse.
LOS ANGELES (Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, 1982)
Even in an apocalyptic future a high-rise apartment can’t be all that cheap. What was initially going to be called San Angeles—the immensely creative name Ridley Scott toyed around with to describe the mega-city combination of San Francisco and Los Angeles—this city boasts a skyline the likes of which you would not believe. Skyscrapers claw into the black smog of the atmosphere giving the illusion the planet’s surface is inhospitable for human life. This seems partially true given the amount of rubbish lining the streets. With all the fireballs erupting around the city one would think they’d just up and burn the rubble to make more room for…I don’t know…more street vendors?
METROPOLIS (Superman, Richard Donner, 1978)
Metropolis is the home of the beloved Superman/Clark Kent, and is based off of the architecture and prowess of New York City. Think of Metropolis as NYC during the daytime when the city is bustling with businessmen and women and children are out for afternoon walks. It is a hyperbolized location considering the citizens know the strongest being on Earth calls it his home. Here the battles often take place within politics as Lex Luthor, the city’s wealthiest and [second] most influential person plots his next attack from his penthouse suite in the hopes of one day doing away with the man from Krypton. Dream on, baldy.
SPRINGFIELD (The Simpsons Movie, David Silverman, 2007)
Is there a better average American family than the Simpsons? No, there is not. Due to the sheer amount of cities named Springfield spread across 34 different states, creator Matt Groening wanted the location to be a sort of Anytown, USA, with the tongue-in-cheek state motto of “Not like any other state.” Now before you get in a huff and say Springfield isn’t a city take a moment to realize just how large this place really is. The Simpson’s hometown houses countless little communities such as Junkeyville, Springfield Heights, Crackton, Bum Town, Little [insert virtually any European country], as well as the Flammable District, a gay district, a fast-food district and its very own Nuclear Power Plant. Add on several universities, sports teams and a festival scene unlike anywhere else, Springfield boasts more culture than any other city on the planet. It’s a wonder more people don’t make the move to—oh right, there’s no telling when you might bump into Homer.
BASIN CITY (Sin City, Robert Rodriguez, 2005)
Frank Miller’s Sin City perfectly meshed the ideas of a city on the brink of chaos and the romanticism of the American west when he created Basin City. This hedonistic den of iniquities is exactly the kind of place one might escape to after a straining week at the office. The red-light district features some of the most beautiful women willing to offer their services to whatever one might fancy. The only requirements when entering the city are a hyper-sense of masculinity (men) or a willingness to subject oneself to the sexual desires of others (women). But don’t worry ladies, you have far more power in this town than it seems.
EMERALD CITY (Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming, 1939)
Ah, the home of that Wonderful Wizard who grants your any wish. O.K. maybe his myth would be a little more grandiose if that little shit of a dog would have left the man behind the curtain alone. And I suppose he doesn’t so much grant wishes as he imparts life lessons to the fools looking for guidance. Emerald City is the capital of Oz and is located in the centre of the land at the end of the yellow brick road. The city can be seen from nearly anywhere in Oz, no doubt due to its sheer size, brilliant green hue and perpetual sparkle. Gosh this seems like a splendid place to visit, I wish Dorothy hadn’t been so vague as to its whereabouts, “somewhere over the rainbow”.
CLOUD CITY (Star Wars: Episode V:The Empire Strikes Back, Irvin Kershner, 1980)
Located on the gaseous planet of Bespin, Cloud City hovers above, suspended by an anti-gravity pod. Chiefly thought of as a floating metropolis of utter beauty and political freedom, Cloud City also operates as a mining colony, extracting the valuable Tibanna gas that is housed in the depths of the giant planet. Under the administration of the devilishly handsome Lando Calrissian, the city also provides sanctuary for those trying to escape the turmoil strangling the galaxy. Calrissian would prove traitorous when he strikes a deal with Darth Vadar and the Empire to hand over Han Solo in exchange for the city’s safety, an arrangement that—shockingly—the Sith Lord never intended to keep.
GOTHAM CITY (Batman, Tim Burton, 1989)
Based on New York City— specifically lower Manhattan—Gotham was created by writer Bill Finger as the location and birthplace of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Where Metropolis is NYC in the daylight, Gotham best encapsulates the city after the shops have closed and the sun has gone down. Through the ‘70s and ‘80s Gotham was reinvented as a much darker place where cretins and scum fit in like kids in a candy store. Christopher Nolan’s interpretation seems to revel in this despicable depiction and embraces the darkness though never forgetting the possibility that one day Batman could purge this city of its filth. Filled with crooked cops and super villains as far as the eye can see, what this city really needs, aside from its anti-hero, is a good locksmith. Every few weeks criminals are taking over the jail or escaping from Arkham Asylum, perhaps its time to upgrade from the padlock system to a magnetically sealed deadbolt.