“It’s a crappy night. We sometimes call it schmutz: that’s a local expression.” For astronomer Irve Robbins, “local” is New York. An astronomer at the College of Staten Island, he still likes to head out to Jones Beach, where he can best see the night sky. In the city, he laments, the view is limited by light pollution, and he likes to see more. “When you look at the sky,” he says, “It really is the sum total of everything around you.”
Thus begins Ian Cheney’s The City Dark, a meditation on the night sky and light pollution that premieres on POV on 5 July. The documentary features interviews with experts on all sorts of related phenomena, creating a series of loose, if logical connections between likely causes and effects, structured as a kind of road trip. This means the film sets up expected but not easily reconciled tensions. This as Cheney insists on the most lyrical element in his quest, expresses his desire to understand what it means to be disoriented, and in turn, to be oriented.
See PopMatters’ review of The City Dark here.