Flatland the Film

Actors: Simon G. Hammond, Greg Trent, Chris Carter, Linda Meigs, Ashley Blackwell
Ladd Ehlinger Jr
NTSC, Full length, Collector's Edition, Animated, Widescreen, Limited Edition
All Regions
Run Time:
100 minutes



The flatland of the title of this very clever and well-made Independent animated movie refers to a plane of existence which consists of only two dimensions. There is no depth - everything is literally flat.

This flatland is inhabited by, well, very flat sentient creatures similar to ourselves. Their world also resembles ours in that their attitudes are governed by religious dogma, sexism and their society is divided into very clear social classes and castes.

Some of their society's rules seem senseless: the rectangular and round creatures that inhabit this world can change their colors at will, but for some reason it is seen as a heresy to do so and punishable by death. (How these strictly two-dimensional manage to see each other and navigate their way around their world is of course one of the movie's many jokish asides.)

One day everything in this flatland is thrown into disarray when a three-dimensional creature appears, a perfect sphere, who informs the flatlanders that there is indeed a higher plane of existence beyond their own two-dimensional world, namely a world with depth in which three-dimensional objects and living creatures exist.

This appearance is akin to the impact of, let's say, having God Himself appear on the 11 o'clock news. Monumental and earth shattering to say the least. Of course this shake-up in the metaphysical conception of their own universe leads one flatlander to speculate that there might be an even higher plane of existence than the third dimension, a fourth dimension.

Needless to say this sort of speculation leaves the third dimensional inhabitants uneasy. After all, like the two-dimensional creatures, they believe that they had their whole universe pretty much sussed out . . .

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this 2007 straight-to-DVD production is the fact that it is based on a thin little novel which was published in 1880. Yup, that's no typo: Flatland - A Romance of Many Dimensions was written by a British mathematician Edwin A. Abbott in 1880.

Abbott not only wanted the book to serve as an easy illustration of some mathematical concepts and ideas to his students, but also to serve as a satire of Victorian England, in particular its rigid class system and attitude towards women.

However before you start believing that Flatland the DVD is a dull mathematical treatise written by a stodgy Victorian, the movie infuses its literary source material with a very modern and irreverent attitude. Why Flatland works is because its fast pace, its witty and clever pace - without dumbing down things. While some of the metaphysical and mathematical discussions in the movie will make your head hurt, especially if you're of a non-mathematical bend such as myself, the film is breezily accessible.

Sure, hard sci-fi types and math boffins will get the most out Flatland; however, the movie is still recommended for the rest of us.

Wholly original and clever, Flatland is what independent film-making is all about, namely tackling the sort of offbeat subject matter that commercial Hollywood wouldn't dream of touching in a gazillion years. For this alone Flatland is to be commended because in an era in which many independent film-makers merely try to emulate Hollywood it is like, well, witnessing the arrival of a three-dimensional creature in a two-dimensional world.




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