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:: Dark Days

Dark Days is a documentary from the US released in 2000, but shot over a number of years before that, by first time filmmaker and British expatriate Marc Singer. It chronicles the daily lives of a community of homeless people who have made their home in the subway tunnels beneath Penn station in New York. Shot in stark black and white, it is a remarkable piece of work.

Dark Days consists largely of footage of the various residents of the underground, most of which are or have been drug addicts. They have built houses for themselves down in the subway, tapped into the electricity supply, and all seem to have some way of getting by, collecting recycling, scavenging and reselling various found objects. Most of Dark Days shows them in conversation with each other, talking about regular everyday things - it is just that their life is different to the average. The film demonstrates an obvious but important point, that the homeless we pass on the street are people too, they not monsters or worthless human garbage. Dark Days is a very worthy film, and documents the life underground, and eventual emergence.

DVD extras are often unnecessary fluff, but that is not the case with Dark Days. The usual deleted scenes, trailer, and Madman propaganda are included. But there is also a ‘making of’ feature that really places Dark Days into its full context. It covers how Singer became aware of the fact that homeless people were living belowground, came to know them and wound up making a film about them, and the long period of time and large degree of difficulty involved in making this film happen, how the people in the tunnel worked as his film crew and so on. Although Dark Days itself is worthy, it isn’t the most comfortable or entertaining film to watch. The making of feature brings it to life by providing the story behind the film.

Dark Days is a decent DVD and is well worth renting. Just make sure you check out the making of.

DVD Extras

Making of,
Director's commentary,
Additional scenes,
“Life After The Tunnel” follow-up by Marc Singer