cylinders and cubes, oh my

It’s like something out of that twilighty show about that zone!

homer simpson

I used my Independence Day to learn about a region both simultaneously American and foreign – the Twilight Zone. And I learned that a movie I thoroughly enjoyed, “Cube,” was based on an episode of the Twilight Zone. The episode is known as “Five Characters in Search of An Exit,” and it first aired in 1961. That may not be the most poignant of titles, but it should already let those familiar with “Cube” know how similar the two premises are. In the show, a clown, hobo, ballerina, bagpiper, and Army Major all awaken in a giant cylinder with no knowledge of who they were or how they got there. This odd menagerie of characters is a bit more entertaining than the group assembled in “Cube,” but the character development isn’t nearly as deep (which should not be surprising given the 30-minute nature of the show). people spend some time discussing how they might have gotten there, and they try to find a way out, to no avail. Unlike the movie, there is only one cylinder and they cannot move from one room to another. Periodically, there’s a giant bell ringing. Eventually, the prisoners form a giant human chain/ladder (this is used in the movie as well) to try to reach the top of the cylinder. They also create a rope from clothes, and the soldier uses it as a grappling hook.

Spoilers: the ending provides much more closure than the movie does. When the soldier reaches the top of the cylinder, he falls over the edge and into snow, going lifeless. The camera pans out and the big twist is revealed: that the people were all dolls in a bin during a toy drive for Christmas. They remain inanimate at that point. Say what you will, but that was a pretty good explanation. Still, there’s something more to like about the different twists employed by the film, and the fact that its ending leaves much more to the imagination. The deadly traps in various cubes don’t hurt its appeal either.

I suppose the take-home point is that all art begins with a good idea, and that it’s far easier to base that idea off of something you’ve seen or read or heard before, rather than creating it from scratch. Both the original and the derivative may both be worthwhile, as long as they’re just different enough to provoke distinct thoughts or emotions.

2 thoughts on “cylinders and cubes, oh my

  1. I was privy to the Twilight episode in Mr. Phelps 8th grade Living Law class years before I was even aware of Cube. Not as a purist but as a person who enjoys movies: Cube and its series sucks all kind of nuts. If I wanted to be mentally raped by a bear and a moose, I would gladly lie myself prone before the great Satan himself and ask him to go double on my eyes. Other than that, Cube is fine as the movie of choice for a Gaying-Out Festival.

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