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I Bet You Didn't See... 9

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Directed by: Shane Acker

Screenplay by: Pamela Pettler

Based on: “9” Short Film by Shane Acker

Starring: Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover

Released: September 9th, 2009

My Rating: 9/10

Contains Spoilers!!!

I absolutely love this film. It’s not the most popular film, or most well-known, but I think it’s a got a charm about it that eases through as the film goes on.

1 to Protect Us..

The film revolves around ‘9’, a mechanical doll/puppet (known as Stitchpunks in reviews) that we see waking as his creator dies after putting a small device in 9 (Elijah Wood). The creator is a scientist, possibly one of the last humans from a devastating apocalyptic war with machines and creator of all the Stitchpunks. 9 wakes and ventures into a destroyed city to discover he is not alone.

2 to Inspire Us...

2 (Martin Landau) finds him but is soon attacked by a cat-like machine. 9 goes on to befriend other Stitchpunks, gets brought into their group and is dragged into the remnants of the war. Unfortunately for 9, self-appointed leader 1 (Christopher Plummer) doesn’t really like him because 9 is curious and that can cause problems, while 1 is more focused on keeping the group alive and refuses to take risks. Throughout the film, a symbol appears a lot and 6 (Crispin Glover), along with the mute twins 3 and 4, work out what this symbol means. They go on to work out the use for the small device in 9.

3 to Define Us... 4 to Teach Us...

Hunting the Stitchpunks are a series of machines that an artificial intelligence creates. The AI machine, known as The Fabrication Machine, or B.R.A.I.N (Binary Reactive Artificially Intelligent Neurocircuit… rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?), was created to help the country in which this film is set but takes over. The other machines are created by using fabrics, machinery, and human and animal bones, and all have different uses. One of the big fight scenes is when 9 and 7 (Jennifer Connelly, and the only apparent female in the group) team up to fight a Winged Beast, much like a Pterodactyl, using a series of clever traps they have set up.

5 to Guide Us...

What I love about this film is that the 9 Stitchpunks all represent different aspects of the human spirit or psyche if you don’t want say ‘soul’. 1 is the leader, commanding and rude and doesn’t have time for those who go against him, seeming unsympathetic when 2 is attacked when out on his own. 2 is the inventor and creative genius of the group, much like the Scientist. He gives 9 the ability to speak. 3 and 4 cannot speak, and only communicate with flickering lights from their eyes, but they are energetic, highly intelligent and the group historians, telling 9 (and we, the viewers) the history we need to know. They are sweet and charming with their loyalty to each other, and I found them entertaining and fun.

6 to Lead Us...

5 (John C. Reilly) is the group’s medical expert, helping fix the group when they return broken. He appears to be the conscientious objector of the group but is pushed around and bullied by 1. 6 can foresee things and does the groups writing. He is the one that brings the importance of the symbol to the attention of 9. He looks a bit mad with his huge eyes, which is a great touch to make him stand out. 7 is the fighter of the group and the only apparent female. She is willing to put herself at risk to save the others, particularly 3 and 4. The stark contrast to 1, her love to 3 and 4 breaks the surrealness of the film by reminding us that you need to work together and look out for each other in times of hardship. 8 (Fred Tatasciore) is 1’s bodyguard, fearless and loyal to him throughout the film.

7 to Defend Us...

I won’t discuss the film’s ending because you really should watch it, but what I will reveal is that Shane Acker, the film’s director, made ‘9’ as a 10-minute short in 2005 as a University Project that was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, and won a Student Academy Award for Best Animation with the film in the same year. Tim Burton, who brought us such gems like ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘Corpse Bride’, saw the short and offered Acker the chance to make it into a feature film. The film was released as a 79-minute feature on September 9th, 2009 (9/9/09). I have attached a link to the original short here, as I cannot place it on this blog.

8 to Guard Us...

Just a warning, the feature is very close to the original, giving more detail to the backstory and introducing the other Stitchpunks, so the original short will give away the ending, although I think the feature ending is worth waiting for.

I love this film. I think it a cleverly made and written piece, and I love the animation. 3 and 4 are definitely my favourite Stitchpunks, and I love that they are called Stitchpunks!

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