Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Moment in "9"

Since this blog is primarily dedicated to artful moments in cinema, I can't resist writing about a beautiful (and probably also cliched) moment in the recently released to DVD film "9".

Humanity, along with the rest of life on earth, has come to a nefarious end, save for a few little mechanical creatures brought to life from the transference of a single human soul, who battle for survival against an intelligent super machine slightly reminiscent of a Jurassic Park predator.

The film as a whole is a nearly non-stop, teeth-gritting, thrill ride as the numbered creatures (1 is the elder "leader", 8 the cronie, 2 the wise intellectual, 9 the hero, and so forth) attempt to destroy the machine before it destroys them. One such attempt is the point at which the moment in question occurs:

Amid the desolate, brown hued, dust ball landscape piled high with the demolished human record, a fire ball rages where once stood the laire of the enemy machine. The surviving numbered creatures relax in the tranquility of knowing the predator is destroyed. In a surreal choice, marked mainly by the emotionally jarring "uncanny juxtaposition" over this disturbing visual landscape of death and destruction, floats the defiantly innocent voice of Judy Garland singing her most famous number, The Wizard of Oz "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Perhaps the metaphor is too obvious, as literally moments later the machine drags its crushed limbs from the inferno and begins once more its death dealing pursuit. Its not as though we the audience have never seen this type of musical juxtaposition; however, due to the quick-fire pace of "9"'s action sequences, this moment of pause is especially effective. Before the viewer is made aware of the approaching machine, Judy's voice gleams a reflexive sorrow. We, along with the our numbered friends inside the diagetic world, grieve. As long as there is someone to fight against, the bitter reality of an extinguished planet Earth can be temporarily avoided. But here, in this aftermath of a seemingly successful last battle, the calm is bitter-sweet. Nothing survives, and beyond the rusty vinyl sounds of Garland song, is the most terrifying silence imaginable. While 9 and his tribe feel at ease for the first time in the film, we feel disquieted and anxious, a feeling then justified by the appearance of the machine. A metaphor, within a metaphor, within a metaphor. This is but one rich moment in a fantastic film.


  1. Fascinating. Haven't caught this movie yet but I'm DYING to. Especially now. Beautifully written as always. Thanks for the insight.

  2. Lydia...this is a terrible movie! The pacing was awful, the characters severely underdeveloped (along with the plot) and the ending was completely thrown together ad hoc and made little sense compared to the story leading up to it! I'm sorry but I found this to be a sad excuse for something that could have posed huge questions to the nature of what it means to be human and the concept of whether or not our existence is particularly relevant. Also, while the the mise en scene is stunning in many respects overall, the animation didn't rise to the level necessary to render it immune from its gravely obvious thematic and writing flaws. Love you!

  3. We shall agree to disagree. I thought the film went as far as it could without affecting a "forced upon" tone. Adult animated films dont make any money and going further would have made it too dark. It was scary in the same way Wall-E was scary, if you know what I mean.

  4. I contend it was already way too dark to be a kid's movie so they might as well have gone the extra mile. Also, it should have relied more on the story than on the visuals and that would have made it less "scary" and more meaningful. After re-reading your original post I will concede that the score in that one part of the movie DID in fact stand out to me (I remember now talking about that with Raf)and I liked that...however its convention has been used many times before by way of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" juxtaposed with violent scenes of war and carnage in various indie films (And Moore's "Bowling for Columbine") SO, while effective yes, not terribly innovative. And hey, keep writing, I need you to keep me on my toes!!!!!