He believes in vigilantism and poetic justice, similar to the posses which roamed the frontier rounding up outlaws by whatever means possible. His belief in rough justice has been influenced not only by the environment he inhabits, but also from the conditioning and mentality passed down by his grandfather and father, also Los Angeles police officers. His slide into corruption doesn’t seem to be premeditated or out of personal gain, but more out of a desperate attempt to counteract the increasing levels of crime within the city.
The fact that he has to cut corners, fabricate evidence and lie to get a conviction becomes the lesser of two evils. The city, over the years, has played an important part in shaping Perry’s morality. the fact that corruption is so rife within the department operating at different levels thorough out the ranks, offers certain normality to the immoral ethics. ‘Sheltons movie is about police corruption-corruption that becomes so routine on such a daily basis that it is no longer recognized as that’ Baltake, 2003.Order now
It is only at the end of film that Perry truly realises that his and his fellow officer’s conduct and abuse of their authority has been responsible for the vicious circle of hate, prejudice and destruction that now threatens L. A. The final scene shows a sweeping long shot of a burning, chaotic city skyline, accompanied by the line from the Deputy Chief of Police, “Its gong to get uglier before it gets better”, a metaphor not only for the on going rioting, but to the socio-political infrastructure of the L. A itself and perhaps a warning of the impending self destruction if race relations within the city are not addressed.
It is a scene that is almost reminiscent of the Sc-Fi genre, films such as The Running Man (Glaser, 1987), Demolition Man (Brambilla, 1993) and Predator 2 (Hopkins 1990) where scenarios of urban street violence and ethnic turf wars are part of everyday life within a future dystopian society. ‘The movie chronicles how Perry’s investigation into the bloody heist of a Korean grocery store become an orgy of cover up, compromise and growing self-awareness that gradually brings him to the edge and becomes a metaphor for the cities larger awakening and an epic vision of the American apocalyptic’-
William Arnold on Dark Blue (Seattle Post, 2003) In Dark Blue, the streets of south central, play an important function in the narrative, they are instantly visible, by the urban decay of the area, juxtaposed by the visual contrast and representation of the rest of the city. The poverty portrayed in the South Central area, helps to define the frustration and anti authoritarian attitude many of the residents hold. We can see the ethnic community form into gangs, every time the Police enter the neighbourhood, clearly invading their space and creating a tense segregation between the two camps.
Classic 1990’s gangster rap is heard, almost as an audio cue each time we as an audience are taken into the South Central streets, which coupled with the visuals not only helps us establish a sense of place, but with reference to the anti police themes in the lyrics of the music, allows us to understand the mindset of the community. Aesthetically the handheld nature of the camerawork during many of the street scenes, works to enhance the raw, gritty feel of the character of South Central, the fact director Sheldon chose to shoot these scenes in the real life area using residents as extras adds to the authenticity.
Stylistically much of the street footage feels similar to the late 60’s early 70’s New York cop thrillers, notably The French Connection (Friedkin 1971). ‘In the late 60’s early 70’s filmmakers burst free from the confines of the studio back lots and invaded New York to vividly document the city in a series of raw street films about cops and their disreputable counterparts in the underbelly of society. It was impossible to separate the subject matter from the city itself’- Joe Baltake (The Sacramento Bee, 2003)
From the previous example we can begin to see how a place can have significant functions to the narrative of cinema other than just being a ‘stage’ for the action to evolve. Place as ‘Backdrop’, its least sophisticated function, surely has to be present in most narratives, since the story has to take place somewhere, even if the characters do not interact or are influenced by their urban environment. Planet of the Apes (Schaffner 1968) is arguably an example of a ‘City’ film, in which the place or city doesn’t function as a backdrop, at least within the main part of the narrative.
The anonymous rural space we are first presented with, which thorough out the film becomes a place we perceive to be a distant planet, ruled by apes. It is only at the climax of the narrative that we as an audience experience a catharsis along with the character of Taylor, that he is and always has been (during the course of the film) on earth or more specifically in New York City, or at least the space where New York city once stood. It is certainly a debatable point, whether or not the one shot of the Statue of Liberty is significant enough to classify this film a ‘City film’.
Regardless of whether this film can be strictly classified as such, the icon does create a specific place. The fallen Icon acts as a metaphor for our social anxieties about the future, as in Dark Blue, the loss of freedom, the realisation of the apocalyptic nightmare and more specifically here the downfall of the human race. In terms of narrative the place the statue signifies serves a metonymyic function. It is a code that locates us not just in New York, but more specifically in the near vicinity of Liberty Island.