On the eve of Earth’s destruction, No. 9, a six-inch rag doll voiced by Elijah Wood, awakens in the ruins of a home with dead humans at his feet. In a desecrated city, he sets out to discover what was and has become of a new world of darkness.
In the digitally animated movie 9, which comes out tonight, a group of nine dolls set out to discover who and what they are, and how to survive against the machines that roam the earth.
As the movie develops, No. 9 must develop his own courage and thinking to lead his comrades into the battle against the mechanical monsters, which desire nothing more than to rid the planet of all life.
In a conference call, creator and director of the film Shane Acker revealed his wish is to hint at the “inundation of technology,” while also encouraging people not to lose sight of what’s really important in life.
The film’s scientist, voiced by Alan Oppenheimer, is designed to resemble the father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Acker said. In the movie, the scientist creates an orb that gives life to the dolls and machines.
“Why don’t we think of what we sacrifice at the advancement of science?” Acker said.
According to Acker, the machines in the film were supposed to be a parallel to the nuclear bomb project spearheaded by Oppenheimer during World War II.
The message is conveyed when the scientist creates the orb, which is something the world is proud of. However, the orb ends up in the wrong hands and the world suffers because of an otherwise miracle of science.
Acker brought Wood onboard the project not only because of their work together during the making of the film The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, where Acker worked on visual effects as an animator, but also because of Wood’s ability to convey the archetype personality of Frodo Baggins and No. 9.
Acker wanted to have a hero that was only average but still overly capable of the physical feats needed – an everyday personality who refuses to accept limitation.
9 is the offspring of Acker’s award-winning short film also titled 9. It’s filled with dark imagery, alluding to how the world could plummet by neglecting the spirit of humanity while feeding its greed for science.
Unfortunately, the film may not hit home with many because of its spiritual elements revealed in the final scenes, depicting man’s soul versus machine.
Critics seem to think 9 lacks story depth, but on the contrary, the message the film promotes is dynamic. It doesn’t proclaim nostalgia for earlier technology but asks about the soul.
Though the ending, which shouldn’t be given away, becomes a bit fairy-tale, it is still a triumph for the individuality that is this indie short film.