Monday, January 25, 2010


9 is an animated film, not to be confused with the musical. It's based on an animated short that was nominated for an Oscar.

It's a very strange film, much closer to an experimental film than a traditional narrative. Very little happens in the film. It's also very dark, taking place in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is gone but machines have taken on a life of their own. The main character appears to be the 9th in a series of puppet-like robots that are sentient. 9 is born in the opening of the movie. He has no idea what is going on and learns about this dark world through his experiences.

In many ways, 9 is the audience. We are exactly the same as he is, thrown into this universe in medias res, and we try to grasp at tiny clues to establish the logic of this bizarre world. I like this. It assumes the audience is an active participant in the movie's storytelling, and does not insult the audience the way certain other mainstream movies do.

There's a lot to like in this movie. The animation, and the whole visual style, are amazing. The voice casting is magnificent. It was not distracting stunt-casting, but every voice fit perfectly. The sound design was great. There was a lot of use of quiet in the film, yet there were also great action sequences. Each character was unique, even though they all looked like the same type of puppet. The score was very good.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly a mainstream movie. There are almost no humans in the movie. There's very little plot or action. Even after it's over, there's a lot to discuss about what happened in the film. It's an intelligent film, for adults, but it's animated. All of this is pretty much box office death, yet it is one of the most original films I've seen in a while. If you haven't seen this, please rent it, and support filmmakers who try to do something different. I think you'll find yourself rewarded.

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