Tuesday, June 01, 2010

"9" ~ Animated Apocalypse by Numbers

At the weekend we treated ourselves to some DVD rentals, one of which was the animated movie "9". Wikipedia has full detail of the film's originator, Shane Acker, and the movie's voice actors. In spite of seeing Tim Burton's name on the jacket (a reason for choosing the DVD), he had little to do with making the movie, other than being a co-producer. That didn't matter though, this little film of 80 minutes was quite a treat, and provided much for me to ponder on afterwards. It's not a film for the wee ones though, not funny and quite dark.

The plot, featuring a post-apocalyptic world, isn't new, in fact it has been overdone of late: humanity hoist by its own petard - technology and inventions. The twist in this film is that the last scientist, he who first invented the means of humanity's downfall, before he expired invented the means of transferring human life force to a manufactured object. He then made 9 small (8 inch tall) dolls, replicas of humans, each one carrying a single part of the human spirit, his own life force, or soul. The little beings were roughly constructed from everyday materials, burlap, zips, buttons, lenses, straps, etc. sewn together.

The movie is visually beautiful, with subtle colour, arty steam-punky style and backdrops with some really amazing animation. We noted, with a cold shiver, watching the movie as oil is gushing uncontrolled into the environment from a hole in the seabed somewhere well south of us, scenes of giant oil wells still pumping in spite of the devastation around them. A message from the movie maker that here is one massive contributor to the desolation.

Now, in several reviews and articles about "9" I've read since seeing the movie, not one mentioned something I found especially fascinating. Probably none of those reviewers has the least interest in astrology, archetypes or mythology. The last scientist was putting into action something very similar to the philosophers of ancient civilizations, when they invested the planets with human traits: Mercury - the communicating messenger, Mars - the warror, Venus - love and beauty, Saturn - the old, the restrictor, and regimentor, Jupiter the king and benign expander. Modern astrology entered the scene, and with the discovery of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, more was added. The zodiac signs, of course also translate as human characteristics. The last scientist was doing something similar, using his little burlap dolls.

It's fascinating to see how Shane Acker sorted human lifeforce into 9 factors. I see links to astrology, but suspect some links to numerology too. What follows is an extract from a Facebook page (LINK) which presents information about each little being, supposedly written by the last scientist. Note for astrology buffs: there are twins (Gemini?) who are quick and curious; and the 7th little being provides balance (Libra, the scales, is astrology's 7th sign).

Number 1
His first acts were those of defiance, writhing free of my grasp. He’s a stubborn one. That stubbornness will prove invaluable in this world. His face carries a pride and sense of knowledge that surprises me. 1 is a leader, that much is certain. Only time will tell if he is a good one. (Note from me: Number 1 is dressed in the style of a church leader - Pope, Bishop, and as the storyline develops emerges as a controlling coward. Ahem.)

Number 2
He, like 1, leapt from my hand the moment I removed him from the Transfer Device. But whereas 1 didn’t look back, 2 showed a level of concern for me almost immediately. He carefully made his way across the floor, touching everything in the room as if to better physically acquaint himself with this new world. And then he did something none of my creations have ever done. He smiled. He tinkered endlessly with the tools in my laboratory. He spent a whole day tinkering with lenses, crafting an impressive little telescope. It is such a peculiar feeling; to see so much of yourself in another living being.

Numbers 3 and 4. (Twins)
So much energy! So much unbridled childlike curiosity. They carry the same inquisitive nature as 2, but with unparalleled passion. It’s like history and knowledge provide sustenance to their speedy little bodies. And I mean SPEEDY. These guys are like little puppies, but instead of running around and chewing on furniture, 3 and 4 open books and tear through them with their eyes. Then they carefully return the book to its place and move on to the next.

Number 5
I expected he would spring from my hand like the others, but he didn’t. He looked back at me, trusting, and waited for me to gently place him among the equipment in my lab. Whereas they all initially showed such a primal need to explore the environment alone, 5 waited for me to show him the way. He trusts me. He is my purest creation to date.

Number 6
6 is, shall I say, peculiar..... He does not fit in naturally. Which is not necessarily a negative observation. He is amazingly expressive through his art, these strange little sketches that capture what he’s thinking better than any words. I think he just sees the world differently than the others, and in this sense, he is alone. But he seems to like it that way. Sometimes it is easier to be by yourself.

Number 7

No matter how hard it may be to find, balance exists everywhere in our chaotic universe. Within nature, love, religion, and science, there exists a counterpoint to balance out the rules of our world. It’s a lesson I learn over and over again. # 1 is a born leader, but has a hard time with trust. 5 is a natural counterpoint, full of innocent trust. This is not to imply that either is better or worse than the other, merely that they display strengths and weaknesses. It is a beautiful thing. They were all unbalanced, until this afternoon. 7 - She is beautiful, brave, and fiercely independent. She displays an agile ferocity unseen in the others, something else I never could have predicted. Her sharp eye will prove invaluable on their mission. 7 is going to whip the rest into shape.

Number 8

Those who protect us are sometimes the least appreciated. It should not be this way. Even I, a grown man, am a bit intimidated by 8. He is gargantuan when compared to the others… a thick clump of power. All muscle, none too bright. The others will need someone to guard them in this new world, and 8 is definitely a formidable protector. If I didn’t have someone watching over me, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.

Number 9 - Hero of the movie, after whose production the last scientist dies. 9 is a little naive and impulsive, good-hearted, thoughtful, and sincere. He will always question authority (the opposite nature of Number 1) and would easily risk his own life to save others.



Lots more information at http://www.9experiment.com/ Click on everything you see there!


anyjazz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anyjazz said...

I just knew there was a lot going on in that movie. There were a lot of things that seemingly were left to the imagination to sort out. Instead, it appears there is a huge background story. But the movie works fine even not knowing all those details. I’d watch it again.

It's not a comedy. And it certainly does point fingers.

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ Yes, we watched it "cold" and discovered some background and detail later. I wouldn't mind watching it again.
It seems that before the theater release on 9.9.09 there was quite a bit of info published on-line, so fans were well-informed before they saw the movie. We came in a bit late!

Wisewebwoman said...

Sounds interesting T but I have a hard time with the fact there was only one female in the bunch? Hardly representative of the human species and I would imagine a far better movie with the 'mars'(=martial) element which has gotten us into so much trouble being made into the minority here...
Just my thoughts, you may have more insight - having seen the movie, LOL.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I agree, but then I think there really wasn't a clear gender to any, apart from female "7" - and "8" who seemed definitely like the male side of Mars. The rest, though referred to as "he", could really represent traits of either gender.

We are what we are, though, WWW. We do have to deal with that Mars side of ourselves. In the storyline of the movie it's used only as a means of obtaining freedom from the nasty machines left over from the old world, not to fight among one another.
I think I'll have to watch it again before returning the DVD to Blockbuster.

Candela said...

I've heard lot of good things about this mobie, but haven't had a chance to see it. Would be interesting, since see I'm living with a 9. I'm a 7 myself. I'm not as much into numerology as I am to astrology, but I studied some of it as a teenager. According to a book I got back then, this would be a good match.

Twilight said...

Candela ~~~ Hi there!
I know hardly anything about numerology so can't say much on that score. Do look out for the DVD though, I think you'll enjoy. From Google Image I got the idea that it has been dubbed in several different languages, so will be available outside the USA for sure. The dialogue is sparse anyway, probably to make it easier for subbing. :-)

Twilight said...

I meant "dubbing" ;-)