Flatland the Film
Actors: Simon G. Hammond, Greg Trent, Chris Carter, Linda Meigs,
Directors: Ladd Ehlinger Jr
Format: NTSC, Full length, Collector's Edition, Animated, Widescreen,
Region: 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
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
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
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
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.