|Revolutionary Road: Created to save humanity, a hero emerges . . . from the toy box.|
The “Toy Story” franchise is, of course, a natural for doll devotees, and I’ve given high praise to that Pixar confection over the past year. Another, less well-known film has come to my attention, and I highly recommend it for anyone who likes science-fiction, apocalypse adventure, self-sacrificing bravery, and a band of survivors who learn to fight the unknown and defeat the enemy at the gates. Oh, by the way, the heroes are rag dolls.
The computer-animated movie is called “9,” not to be confused with “Nine,” the musical about a self-centered, ego-driven Italian director (though that sounds like a possibility for post-family viewing). No, “9” is executive produced by art-circle favorite Tim Burton, and directed by Shane Acker, who is rightly called a “visionary.” It revolves around the creation of six “stitchpunk” rag dolls by a scientist who realizes that his machinery will ultimately spell the destruction of mankind.
Not willing to see all that defined humanity fall to the wayside, he incorporates bits of his soul into these nine tiny totems. They are left alone to carry on and persevere against the legacy of destruction.
Yes, I know this premise sounds like anything but a barrel of laughs, but the film has a dignity to it and a sense of pure escapism. The nine dolls—each containing a portion of their maker’s soul—key into the Ancient Egyptian notion of the nine components of humanity. These nine characters, which are simply known by their numerical names, represent heroism/humanity, healing, warrior instincts, artistic leanings, historical reverence, intimidation, control, tradition, and ingenuity.
They learn to trust one another, solve a riddle that will ultimately spell out life or death for them, and unite to stand burlap toe to cotton toe against steel talons. It’s fascinating.
My children, who are early elementary-school age, were captivated. I watched them as they reacted to the early encounters of semi-man against metal beast. They were caught up in whether or not the ragtag group of rag dolls would make it until the final credits rolled. Mirroring the realities of revolution and war, not all do. The dolls are forced to use their brains and their brawn, often discovering that their wits are their best weapons. Along the way, they are forced to decide whether to flee or to feud: decisions of “fight or flight” rest around every corner. The movie is like “Logan’s Run” meets “Mad Max.”
Strung throughout this fiery, burning landscape are frames of intense beauty and heartfelt inspiration. One scene in particular features the backdrop’s hue turned sepia toned, and the tiny stitched figures roll out old 33 vinyl albums and 78 recordings to listen to, to find respite in the music and to forget their daily battling and warfare. As they place an old disc on a Victrola and crank it up, two of the dolls dance upon the turntable as Judy Garland’s voice plaintively pines for “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The sight, the sounds, the emotion, they are all bewitching. If you are in search of family fare that is thought provoking and thrilling, please check this out. If you are an adult who wants to enjoy state-of-the-art animation that manages to be simultaneously New Wave and Old School, rent this as well.
The movie was released on 9/09/09—I have no idea what I was doing on that day, but I missed the ad campaign two years ago—I am so glad I caught up with it today. The film stars the voices of Elijah Wood (of course, the “Frodo” actor plays the reluctant hero, 9), Christopher Plummer (a traditionalist who sets himself up as a proxy pope), Jennifer Connelly (the restless warrior), John C. Reilly (the nurturing healer), and Martin Landau (a creative inventor), among others. In a brilliant casting move, Alan Oppenheimer provides the voice of the scientist who unwittingly started us on the path of destruction. Oppenheimer is the cousin of the real-life J. Robert Oppenheimer, the World War II scientist who is often termed “the father of the atomic bomb.”
The ending to the movie is far happier than what one might expect when watching a post-mankind treatise. However, even amid the conventional happiness, there is a tinge of regret and . . . well, humanity.
I loved the film “Wally,” and “9” has that same vibe concerning the earth being inherited not by the meek but by the mechanical.
Here, in “9,” hardware has run amuck; mankind has self-destructed; and the last vestiges of our personhood are found in our dolls.For us doll aficionados, it’s a self-evident truth, and one worth pursuing.
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The Jones Publishing Lifetime Achievement Award is bestowed upon one recipient per year. This award was created in 2002 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the teddy bear, with the first recipient being Steiff, a German-based plush toy company known for its high quality and prices.
The Lifetime Achievement recipient must be or have been involved in some aspect of the doll and/or teddy bear field for a minimum of 25 years. The recipient may be an individual, partnership, corporation, company, author, artist, marketer, historian or any other industry professional. Lifetime Achievement Award nominations may be made by previous recipients or members of the LAA committee.
To qualify as a nominee, entrants must meet the following criteria:
The Lifetime Achievement Award has been presented to the following individuals and companies since its inception:
2003 Hildegard Gunzel
2004 Alexander Doll Company
2005 R. John Wright
2006 Wendy Lawton
2007 Virginia Turner
2008 Toy Shoppe
2009 no award presented
2010 Helen Kish
2011 no award presented
2012 Maggie Iacono
2013 Heidi Plusczok
2014 Jack Johnston
August 8, 2014 - Blackall Associates Inc. is proud to announce the winner of its Summer Heat Photo Contest. The contest drew entries from around the world. Masterpiece Doll collectors sent in a special photo showing how their Masterpiece Dolls were enjoying the summer heat.
You haven’t seen a toy show until you’ve seen this one. Six buildings! Over six hundred exhibitors! Exclusively toys and dolls and children’s playthings on display everywhere! This is the show everyone always says they intend to visit, and now is the time to do just that. Collectors say the Chicago Toy Show really is the largest in the entire world. They are correct. Collectors say they find toys at this show that are never seen anywhere else. Correct again.
19 April 2014 – 5 October 2014
A special exhibition will take place at the Toy Worlds Museum Basle to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japanese-Swiss diplomacy and friendship.