Dark Days is a black and white documentary that covers the same subject matter as Jennifer Toth’s The Mole People and Margaret Morton’s The Tunnel, the subterranean tunnel dwellers of New York City. The film is the sole documentary by filmmaker Marc Singer, and has won a number of ‘best documentary’ awards in the year of its release.
Singer’s documentary is essentially a film version of the above mentioned books. The Mole People is a flawed work of journalism, The Tunnel is primarily a book of black and white photos, and Dark Days is a step further than the two, providing a deep investigation into the lives of the people who live under the NYC streets that validates aspects of Toth’s scrutinized text (although not the most outlandish aspects, such as stories of an underground citadel beneath grand central station), and with its black-and-white aesthetic, provides the dimension of time to Morton’s photographic work. All this is set to a musical score composed by DJ Shadow.
What’s notable about Singer’s film is the sense of society, in tension with a sense of individual isolation, in that, while it shows the men living in solitude under conditions of 24-hour darkness, the film also displays a number of friendships between these people. The film also partially displays an economy of scavenging and the sale of found objects, an essentially social activity.
The film is also important for showing the resourcefulness of the tunnel-dwellers and their ability to find novel ways to fulfill the necessities of life.