Thursday, August 13, 2009 1:51 PM cstanton

Dark Days Is Worth Watching

The other night my roommate and I were going through the movies on his PS3 when we came across one called "Dark Days." The title struck me because it sounds like a badass movie title, so we began to watch it. The intro scene had me hooked.

The director, Marc Singer, was originally born in London and moved to Florida when he was 16. When he graduated highschool he moved to New York City. After a little while, he had befriended many of the homeless around the city. He had heard rumors of a group of people that lived underground in the Freedom Tunnel, running from Penn Station to a little north of Harlem. He then went to investigate.

After seeing the tunnel and its inhabitants, the idea to create a documentary on their lives sprang into his mind and it became a way to make a great piece of art and hopefully a way to help the subjects of the film financially. After a couple months of living with them down in the darkness, Singer was able to begin the filming. The crew consisted of himself and a few of the homeless in the tunnel. They made all of the equipment that they needed like lighting and dollies to keep the camera steady from scrap in the tunnel. The filming began.

The way that these people live is pretty amazing and hard to believe. They live in almost complete darkness, with only lights wired with stolen electricity from the tunnel. They build their homes out of scrapwood and cardboard and metal sheet, their beds out of straw or trashed clothes and maybe an abandoned mattress from above. Some just sleep on the dirt floor. What I found really interesting is the range in social ability of the people that lived in the tunnel. Some seemed to be almost completely normal while others were clearly drug users. Some had "nice" or at least livable homes while others slept with no more than newspapers. The documentary really opens up eyes and gives you a real look into the lives of the dark dwelling homeless. It shows the struggle that some of them go through to live, it shows the little disagreements, the full blown arguments, and shows the few similarities, good and bad, that the tunnel dwellers share.

During the filming, Amtrak made the decision to forcibly evict the people that lived down in the tunnel. This caused Singer and a friend of his and photographer, Margaret Morton to go to the Coalition for the Homeless for help. Eventually, after showing some of the documentary and providing some of the subjects' information they were able to get housing vouchers for some of the subjects from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This alone was worth the time and effort that Singer had put in, but it also was what made the documentary so moving.

Apart from the whole documentary side of the film, the post-production and the soundtrack are impeccable. Fittingly, the soundtrack was done by DJ Shadow and features songs from his album Entroducing... which is a really really cool album. The whole reason i found the intro so appealing was because of his music. You should check out the film! I have posted below the first 10 minutes of the film.

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