I was rewatching Dark City this week, and it made me think of JLA #50, of all things. Well, a specific comment in that comic that Batman made about water representing discovery, or knowledge in dreams. And at first glance, I though that fit pretty well with the movie. Shell Beach representing sort of the key to John's past, the way he, Bumstead, and Schreber take the river to get to "Shell Beach", and discover at least part of the truth of their situation there. The aversion the strangers, or whatever we should call them, have to water, which would fit if we consider that John discovering the truth can help him to destroy them and their little experiment. And the comparison to a dream, where its always night, where things change, people change, and yet nobody notices. Everything seems perfectly natural in that way it can in dreams, where I find it perfectly reasonable that I can teleport, or that I'm Edward Norton, or whatever.
So in that sense, it seems like John finds the truth, oddly enough not at Shell beach, but in that little vial of watery fluid Schreber injects into his brain. He banishes the strangers, creates the Shell Beach he's supposed to remember, brings out the sun. . . but it's still an illusion, isn't it? People are still dreaming, sort of, since they don't have any idea of the truth about their world, they don't know who they were before they were taken. I suppose it's different in that John Murdoch won't be constantly messing with them, so they'll actually be able to settle into the personality and life they currently have and go forward with it, but it's still sort of a trick. Now there's just the one person behind the scenes, and he's much less invasive. I wonder what will happen if someone decides they want to leave the city and go further than just Shell Beach. Surely someone has wanderlust in that city, and won't be content to only travel as far as everyone else.
Maybe at that point John Murdoch emerges and tells everyone the truth, I don't know. It says something I guess about how narrow some people's lives are, and how little we might really understand about the world we inhabit. I mean, I think I understand that I live on Earth, which orbits the Sun, in the Milky Way, etc., but that might be completely wrong. Illusory. If our world were like that of the film, I wouldn't be any more aware of it than most of those people were.