Maybe I have lost my mind, but whoever I am, I'm still me and I'm not a killer.
Hey, you happen to know the way to Shell Beach?
Daylight. When was the last time you remember seeing it? And I'm not talking about some distant, half-forgotten childhood memory. I mean like yesterday? Last week? When? Can you come up with a single memory? You can't, can you? You know something? I don't think the sun even exists in this place, because I've been up for hours and hours and hours and the night never ends here.
Tonight's requirements are: family photo albums, nine personal diaries, love letters, assorted childhood photographs, ID's and social security cards. [examining a sample of memory serum] These do bring back memories. This one is still warm. What is it? The recollections of a great lover? A catalog of conquests? We will soon find out. You wouldn't appreciate that, would you, Mr. Whatever your name is? Not the sort of conquests you would ever understand. Let's see: a touch of unhappy childhood; ah, a dash of teenage rebellion; and last, but not least, a tragic death in the family.
Weren't you looking for the human soul? That's the purpose of your little zoo, isn't it? That's why you keep changing people and things around every night. Maybe you have finally found what you are looking for, and it's going to bite you on your—
First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They abducted us and brought us here. This city, everyone in it, is their experiment. They mix and match our memories as they see fit, trying to divine what makes us unique. One day, a man might be an inspector; the next, someone entirely different. When they want to study a murderer, for instance, they simply imprint one of their citizens with a new personality — arrange a family for him, friends, an entire history, even a lost wallet. Then they observe the results. Will a man, given the history of a killer, continue in that vein? Or are we, in fact, more than the mere sum of our memories?
When they first brought us here, they extracted what was in us so they could store the information, remix it like so much paint, and give us back new memories of their choosing. But they still needed an artist to help them. I understood the intricacies of the human mind better than they ever could, so they allowed me to keep my skills as a scientist because they needed them, but they made me delete everything else. Can you imagine what it is like being forced to erase your own past?
Now remember what I told you: Never talk to strangers.
See, I've been trying to remember things — clearly remember things from my past — but the more I try to think back, the more it all starts to unravel. None of it seems real. It's like I've just been dreaming this life, and when I finally wake up I'll be somebody else: somebody totally different.
They steal people's memories, you know? Then they swap them around between us. I've seen them do it! Back and forth, back and forth, until no one knows who they are anymore.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: What's that make so far, Husselbeck? Six hookers in all?
Husselbeck: I believe so, sir.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: Give the man an "A" for effort.
Husselbeck: Well, everything Detective Walenski committed to paper should be here, so...
Inspector Frank Bumstead: The only thing that should be committed is Walenski.
John Murdoch: What you do seems kind of dangerous right now. I mean, how do you know I'm not the killer?
May: You don't seem like the killer type. Why? You feeling any urges I should know about?
Mr. Wall: No more Mr. Quick. Mr. Quick, dead, yes.
Stranger: Poor, poor Mr. Quick.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: I've met quite a few murderers in the course of my work. Murdoch doesn't strike me as one.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Perhaps you are not accustomed to digging deep enough.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: Well, I do know when someone is lying to me, Doctor.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Forgive me, Inspector, but you are not a clinician. Judging personalities happens to be my business.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: Well, maybe you could give me a few pointers.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Certainly. Let's take you, for instance. You are a fastidious man, driven. Consumed by details. I would say your life is rather lonely.
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: I have a weak heart, you know.
Mr. Hand: Your weakness is not, we think, an affair of the heart.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: You saw something, didn't you, Eddie? Something to do with the case?
Det. Eddie Walenski: There is no case! There never was! It's all just a big joke! It's a joke!
[Mr. Hand has been imprinted with Murdoch's memories]
Mr. Book: Is it done?
Mr. Hand: Oh, yes, Mr. Book. I have John Murdoch in mind.
Mr. Hand: We're very lucky, when you think about it.
Emma Murdoch: I'm sorry?
Mr. Hand: To be able to revisit those places which have meant so very much to us.
Emma Murdoch: I thought it was more that we were haunted by them.
Mr. Hand: Perhaps. But imagine a life alien to yours, in which your memories were not your own but those shared by every other of your kind. Imagine the torment of such an existence: no experiences to call your own. If it was all you knew, maybe it would be a comfort.
Emma Murdoch: What brings you here?
Mr. Hand: I met my wife at this place.
Emma Murdoch: It's where I first met my husband.
Mr. Hand: Small world.
Emma Murdoch: I love you, John. You can't fake something like that.
John Murdoch: No, you can't.
Desk Sergeant: How can we help you, sir?
Mr. Hand: You can sleep!
Dr. Daniel P. Schreber: Inspector, he is more disturbed than we thought.
Inspector Frank Bumstead: I may not be the judge of personality that you are, Doctor, but you're the one who looks disturbed to me.
Mr. Wall: We will give you some more pretty things soon, Anna.
Emma Murdoch: I'm not Anna.
Mr. Wall: You will be soon, yes.
Mr. Hand: I'm dying, John. Your imprint is not agreeable with my kind. But I wanted to know what it was like — how you feel.
John Murdoch: You know how I was supposed to feel. That person isn't me. Never was. You wanted to know what it was about us that made us human. Well, you're not going to find it...[taps head] in here. You went looking in the wrong place.
It's actually an interesting story. I used to pitch it differently each time. I guess I was looking for the correct one. There were all kinds of conflicting theories in Hollywood about what the story was actually about. I kind of get sick of movies being mundane and predictable, and I kind of set out to come up with something that was complex enough to keep my interest as an audience member. Because I love those convoluted ideas, you know? And as long as it all makes sense in the end, it's fine. I just want to have some fun along the way. I want to play a few games and takes some risks.
It wasn't like any perverse intention to confuse people in Hollywood. It's just that you can see the story from different perspectives. It's not linear, you can see it from various character's perspectives.
I started off with this idea of a detective who was on a case that didn't make any logical sense and because he was an incredibly logical man he started going nuts. He thought he was going insane because the facts were just not adding up and they were pointing to some larger mystery that his brain just couldn't deal with.
We couldn't have done this 10 years ago.
I remember exactly when I got the idea. I was standing on the set of "The Crow" and we had built this roof-top set because we didn't have a great budget we just build these one-third scale buildings that we moved around on wheels so after we did a shot, we'd move them all around so we could make the background look different so we could shoot different scenes and you wouldn't see the same building in the background all the time.
I remember standing there on the set and watching these buildings just move, because you couldn't see the guys moving them, so all you could see was just the building sliding across the set. And I just remember thinking that was really cool and I'd have to use that in some way. So I stuck it into this movie.
Well, the first draft had a fairly bleak end to the film, where the bad guys won at the end, but I just didn't like it. As I explored the story more and more it was about the individual's triumph in this world where individuality is being suppressed. Once I got into that mode there was no question that Murdoch had to win in the end and kind of wrest the power away from the strangers.