City of Ember opened on Friday, a beautifully visualized adaption of the book of (almost) the same name. The eponymous city is actually the ultimate bunker, a settlement located in a vast underground cavern and designed to sustain a community for 200 years following the apocalypse. Unfortunately, more than 200 years have passed and the systems that sustain the city are beginning to break down, most notably the giant generator that is the sole source of electricity. This is a particular problem as the inhabitants are sealed in, with no memory of any existence beyond the boundaries of the city. The exit instructions eventually fall into the hands of two youngsters who must battle social inertia and a corrupt mayor to escape the coming darkness.
The ignorance of the population is actually the result of a deliberate decision by the city’s builders. In order to keep the population tucked safely away for 200 years, the builders decided to remove the temptation of the surface world by excluding any record of its existence–and to make sure curious inhabitants stay within the cavern, technologies such as batteries and candles are excluded as well, literally tethering would-be explorers to a power outlet.