City of EmberDVD - 2009
From the critics
Age SuitabilityAdd Age Suitability
blue_dolphin_4400 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over
blue_butterfly_922 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over
Frightening or Intense Scenes: A ginormous mole chases people and ends up locked in a room with one person. I'll leave the rest for you to figure out (don't worry - we don't see anything :)
QuotesAdd a Quote
Doon Harrow: My dad made this.
Lina Mayfleet: It doesn't look very safe.
Doon Harrow: That's my dad.
Doon! The guards are here! You trader! Their coming to get you!
SummaryAdd a Summary
In the midst of a nuclear war, the Builders of the underground "City of Ember" place secret instructions to future generations in a small box, timed to open in 200 years. The box is entrusted the mayor of the underground complex. Each mayor, in turn, passes the box onto his or her successor. When the box has 47 more years left on the time-lock, the mayor holding the box dies suddenly. The significance of the box had not been explained to anyone else, and the mayor's family places it in a junk-filled closet. When 200 years have passed, the time-lock clicks the box open, but the event goes unnoticed.
For generations, the people of Ember have lived in a huge underground complex built as a refuge for humanity. It is built into a vast cavern so high that it is filled with regular-sized buildings. Far above the tops of the buildings are banks of floodlights that light the city during the day and provide light for the greenhouses. The lights are powered by a massive generator. Now it is year 247 and Ember threatens to fall into darkness as the generator begins to fail. Blackouts are occurring with increasing frequency and last longer each time. The reserves of canned goods and light bulbs are becoming depleted. Much of the knowledge about how to utilize and repair the systems necessary for the city's survival has also slowly been lost over succeeding generations.
At a rite of passage for all graduating students called Assignment Day, the mayor (Bill Murray) stands before the graduating students as they choose, by lottery, what their occupations will be. Lina (Saoirse Ronan), a young girl dreaming to be a messenger, is assigned to be a "Pipeworks Laborer" and Doon (Harry Treadaway) is assigned "Messenger". The two swap occupations despite the fact that is it prohibited. Lina goes home to find her grandmother searching for something in the closet, which turns out to be the lost metal box. Unable to piece the torn papers inside the box together, Lina nevertheless resolves to decipher their meaning and enlists Doon's help. As blackouts become more frequent, Lina and Doon realize that the information inside the box could lead to the salvation of Ember. Racing against time, the two follow the clues, and eventually come into conflict with the mayor and other corrupt politicians.
During their flight, it turns out that their parents had once joined in an attempt to make their way beyond Ember - an attempt which ended when Lina's father drowned after their tunneler hit an underground river. The pair realizes the document is a set of instructions on how to escape the city, and they search for the hidden exit. They also discover that the mayor has been hoarding canned food in a secret room. When they report the theft, they are declared traitors. Now on the run from the mayor's police, the pair puts their escape plan into action. They fetch Poppy, Lina's younger sister, and follow the instructions, which leads them to the surface where they see and feel the natural air and sky for the first time. At first, they despair, because it is dark and they assume that they have not escaped, but they do not realize it is night time. In the morning, as the sun rises, they gaze in amazement at the glowing sun and blue sky. They then tie a message of their discovery to a rock and drop it back down to the city, where it is found by Doon's father (Tim Robbins).