CUBE

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CUBE. Vincenzo Natali, dir. Canada: The Feature Film Project, Viacom Canada, et al. (prod.) / Cineplex-Odeon and Trimark Pictures (dist., Canada and USA respectively), 1997. Natali, Andre Bijelic, Graeme Manson, script. Jasna Stefanovic, prod. design. Diana Magnus, art dir. 90 min.

Art film SF, rather like an old Twilight Zone episode, except longer and bloodier; compared by amateur reviewers on IMDb to Jean-Paul Sartre's No Exit, H. Ellison's "I Have No Mouth . . .", and G. Lucas's THX 1138. Note also moving rooms in, and math involved with, "the Great Wheel of Kharnabhar" in B. Aldiss's Helliconia trilogy; see Helliconia Winter 151 (ch. 9), and ch. 15, "Inside the Wheel," esp. 246-52, 257, and ch. 16, "A Fatal Innocence," 268-69. In this film, people come to consciousness and find themselves in the Cube. They could get out by understanding that the rooms of the Cube move in a cycle that returns the room they were initially put into to the one exit. To know to stay where they are, though, they must understand the Cube, and to understand the Cube, most North Americans would need to move through it. But many of the rooms are booby-trapped and moving into the wrong room brings a more or less horrible death. The Cube comes to image the human condition, esp. in terms of politics. Should one keep one's eyes to the ground and do whatever is at hand, or should one try to understand and get the "Big Picture" before acting? Was the Cube made on the orders of one psychopath, or a government—or is it just the product of a headless, mindless bureaucracy, pushing forward a project that has no purpose and no meaning? We can't be sure of the answer, but the Bureaucracy theory is stated by the one person we see who actually worked on the Cube, and, although his ignorance of the meaning of the Cube cannot prove much, his theory goes well with what Dunn, Erlich, and others have seen as a primary referent for human-containing giant machines (see Dunn and Erlich, "A Vision of Dystopia: Beehives and Mechanization" and Erlich, "Trapped in the Bureaucratic Pinball Machine"). (RDE, 05/06/99, 20/06/99)