Self Contained locations

I’ve been playing Thief 1/2 lately, as well as recently watching the movie Metropolis(1926) and noticed that among other things, both stories have the fact in common that both seem to be self contained. By that, I mean that there seems to be no world outside the city and it’s immediate environs. There is no mention of anything existing outside of Metropolis and in the first thief game, there is a sense that the city seems to be all there is in the world(even though Clagscleft is outside the city, it’s like it’s on the edge of the known world). The 2nd game mentions trade and smuggling but no other cities.

Are there any other games/movies/books that work off this concept, that feel isolated, like they are all that exists in the world? Where the place exists in a vaccuum. Feel free to carry this down to a smaller scale, but the requsite is that is feels isolated, not just a derth of outside locations.

Dark City works very well with this concept, and it’s actually part of the plot.

**Duck Soup ** perhaps, because there is no indication that there are any other countries on the planet other then Freedonia/Sylvania.

There’s the first ¾ or so of Pleasantville.

The movie Cemetary Man takes this idea to an extreme.

Although speaking for myself, I never got that impression from any of the Thief games.

The movie Cube springs to mind, and I think the title of the movie was Closetland, anyway it’s stars Donald Sutherland as a interrogator for a police state who is trying to get a writer of children’s fiction to confess that her book Closetland is subversive literature. Orson Wells version of The Trial certainly has a similar feel, as does Eraserhead.


Huh? There was tons of discussion of outside contract work, various cities the characters were from, various mentions of the US government and the movie ends with an escape from the cube. That movie was entirely un-self-contained.

But you never see anything other than the inside of the cube. Even the escape at the end doesn’t show the characters returning to society, only walking out of the cube. In Dark City references are made to locations which are outside of the city, they even show home movies at one point which take place in locations outside of the city. So if Dark City meets the OP’s definition, I’d say Cube does as well, since you never see anything but the inside of the cube in that movie.

Except for the last scene, THX 1138.

The Starlost (original concept) was in a totally self-contained environment.

Black Moon tells nothing of the world outside the farm where most of it takes place. There appears to be a war, but nothing is said about it. Nothing is revealed about the characters’ backgrounds, either.

There are references to other city-states in the Thief games (Blackbrook, for example), but it does seem as if the City is the biggest, most prominent community around. Also, the fact that no one ever calls it anything other than “The City” implies that it’s in a class by itself.

The Thirteenth Floor describes computer-simulated environments, some of whichcontain computer-simulated environments of their own.

And I assume the Matrix counts.


System Shock 2, the game.

“Brazil” does not reference anything outside the over-bureaucratized city. In fact, there is no point of reference within the movie to suggest that it is even Brazil!

Corn nuggets!
As soon as I hit “submit”, I thought of another example.

The ultra, ultra, ultra, ultra, ultra low-budget SF flick “Dark Star” (John Carpenter’s first movie) takes place entirely on a starship way off in space - except for the last minute or so.

I had forgotten about that…and it’s one of my favorite films.

Well, Thief fits this far better then Thief 2. Thief 2 has the trading companies and smugglers and the docks(Though I haven’t heard anyone mention blackbrook yet, but I’m still working my way through it), and of course, numerous mentions of pagans living in the woods.

But Thief acts like there is nothing outside the city at all(other then say, cragscleft). Almost everything is in refence to the city(even the Map at the end of “The Haunted Cathedral” ), unless there’s something I’m forgetting.

Okay, Bafford is out of town when garret robs his place, and Constatine is a new face in the city, but those are exceptions.