Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Vincenzo Natali|
|Produced by||Mehra Meh
|Written by||André Bijelic
|Starring||Nicole de Boer
Maurice Dean Wint
|Music by||Mark Korven|
|Editing by||John Sanders|
|Studio||Feature Film Project, The
Ontario Film Development Corporation
Harold Greenberg Fund, The
|Distributed by||Cineplex Odeon Films|
|Release date(s)||September 9, 1997 (Toronto International Film Festival)
September 11, 1998 (United States)
|Running time||90 minutes|
The movie received a cult status for its surreal, Kafkaesque settings; it is set in identical cube-like rooms (hence the name) with each room being a different color (white, blue, green, amber and red), and no background story is revealed for the characters or the reason they were left in the Cube. The film also doesn't demonstrate any clear plot regarding the Cube's background, creation, purpose and its location. The timeframe of the story is also left unknown.
A man named Alderson (Julian Richings) awakens and finds himself in a cube-shaped room with a hatch in each wall and in the floor and ceiling. Opening some of the hatches, he finds passages to rooms that are identical except for their colors. He enters an orange room and, without warning, is sliced to pieces by a wire grill.
In another such room, five people - Quentin, Worth, Holloway, Rennes and Leaven - meet. None know where they are, how they got there, or why. Quentin informs them that some cubes contain traps (almost killed by one); assuming they are triggered by motion detectors, Rennes tests each by throwing his boot in first. Leaven notices numbers inscribed in the passageways between rooms. Quentin, a policeman, recognizes "the Wren" as an escape artist renowned for getting out of jails. After "booting" one room, Rennes enters but is sprayed by acid, which dissolves his face and kills him.
Quentin believes each person has a reason for being there. He is a police officer, Leaven is a mathematics student, Holloway a doctor and conspiracy theorist who thinks the "military industrial complex" is responsible for their predicament, while the surly Worth declines to talk about himself or his past actions. Leaven theorizes that any room marked with a prime number is a trap. They then find a mentally challenged man named Kazan, whom Holloway insists they bring along.
Quentin enters a supposedly safe room and is nearly killed by a razor-wire trap, disproving Leaven's theory. Tensions rise, and Quentin becomes irritated by Holloway's paranoia and liberalism, Kazan's childlike mentality, and Worth's reticence. He baits Worth into revealing himself. Worth admits that he knows about this place: he designed the Cube's outer shell. Worth insists that he knows nothing about the rest of the structure. He believes that it was ordered by a bureaucracy, its purpose lost over time; they are only imprisoned there because not using it would require the organization to admit that the Cube was a mistake, a waste of time and money. His knowledge of the outer shell's size allows Leaven to determine that there are 26 rooms to a side, 17,576 rooms in all. She guesses that the numbers indicate the Cartesian coordinates of the rooms. The group starts moving toward the nearest edge based on her theory.
Arriving near the edge, they find that each neighbouring room is trapped. Rather than backtrack, they decide to make their way silently through a blue colored room whose trap is activated by sound rather than by motion. Nearly everyone makes it through without incident, but Kazan makes a noise during Quentin's transit of the room and Quentin is almost impaled by spikes. Upon reaching safety, he threatens Kazan with violence.
They arrive at an edge room and find a wide, unlit gap between it and the outer shell. Holloway swings out to investigate, using a rope made from their clothes, but nearly falls when the Cube suddenly shakes. She climbs up and grabs Quentin's arm but he drops her to her death, telling the others that she slipped.
As they rest, Quentin tries to persuade Leaven to abandon the others with him. He makes a sexual advance but she rejects him with disgust, and he quickly becomes aggressive. When Worth intervenes, Quentin beats him and then throws him through the floor hatch. Worth laughs hysterically at what he finds — Rennes' corpse. The thought that they have been going around in circles is demoralizing, but then Worth realizes that they are not going in circles, the rooms are moving periodically.
Leaven deduces that traps are not tagged by prime numbers but by powers of prime numbers. Kazan is an autistic savant who can quickly do prime factorizations and thus identify the trapped rooms. Leaven determines that the numbers indicate the positions within the cube where each room rests between moves through the Cube. The room that connects to the "bridge" leading to the only door in the outer shell proves to be the one in which the group first woke up. The alignment they need will come in two moves.
Worth ambushes Quentin and leaves him behind during one move as they hurry to the cube adjoining the bridge. When they open the hatch, they are met by a bright white light (which is the only exit and entrance of the Cube). Worth decides to stay over Leaven's objections, saying there is nothing outside for him but "boundless human stupidity", but Leaven responds, "I can live with that." Bloodied Quentin appears and fatally stabs first Leaven, then Worth with a door handle, before going after Kazan. With the last of his strength, Worth grabs Quentin's leg, holding him long enough for Quentin to be ripped apart in the passageway as the bridge shifts. Worth then dies of his wounds, with a smile on his face. Kazan, now free, slowly walks into the bright light.
Mathematics of the cube 
The cube device in the movie was designed by D. W. Pravica. It consists of an outer cubical shell (the sarcophagus) and the inner cube. One side of the outer shell is 434 feet long. The inner cube consists of 263 = 17576 cubical rooms, each having a sidelength of 15.5 feet. There is a space of 15.5 feet between the cube and the shell. Each room is labeled with three identification numbers, like 517 478 565. These numbers encode the starting coordinates of the room and the x-, y- and z-coordinates are the sums of the digits of the first, second and third number respectively. The numbers also determine the movement of the room and the subsequent positions are obtained by cyclically subtracting the digits from one another. The resulting numbers are then successively added to the starting numbers.
- Maurice Dean Wint as Quentin; a police officer. He is a gruff and aggressive man who takes charge and undertakes most of the dangerous tasks.
- Nicole de Boer as Joan Leaven, a young woman with mathematical skills.
- Nicky Guadagni as Dr. Helen Holloway, a free clinic doctor and a paranoid conspiracy theorist.
- David Hewlett as David Worth, a chronic malcontent and cynic who unwittingly designed the outer shell of the Cube.
- Andrew Miller as Kazan, an autistic man with the ability to rapidly and accurately perform prime number calculations.
- Wayne Robson as Rennes, also known as "the Wren", an escape artist who has gotten out of seven prisons.
- Julian Richings as Alderson, a prisoner and an unknown character. He woke up in another room and never met the rest of the group.
Character names 
All the characters are named after prisons:
- Quentin - San Quentin State Prison, California
- Holloway - Holloway Prison in London
- Kazan - the prison in Kazan, Russia
- Rennes - a prison in Rennes, France
- Alderson - Alderson Federal Prison Camp, Alderson, West Virginia
- Leaven and Worth - United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Leavenworth, Kansas.
After writing Cube, Vincenzo Natali developed and filmed a short entitled Elevated. The short was set in an elevator and was intended to give investors an idea of how Cube would hypothetically look and come across. It eventually got the feature financed. Cube was shot on a Toronto soundstage.
Only one cube, measuring 14 by 14 by 14 feet, was actually built, with only one working door that could actually support the weight of the actors. The colour of the room was changed by sliding panels. Since this task was a time-consuming procedure, the movie was not shot in sequence; all shots taking place in rooms of a specific colour were shot one at a time. It was intended that there would be six different colours of rooms to match the recurring theme of six throughout the movie; five sets of gel panels plus pure white. However, the budget did not stretch to the sixth gel panel and so there are only five different room colours in the movie. Another partial cube was made for shots requiring the point of view of standing in one room looking into another.
Cube polarised critics, with many highly positive reviews to negative, earning an overall approval rating of 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. Movie critics for Electric Sheep magazine, AMC's Filmcritic.com, and Empire Online gave the film positive reviews, while critics for Nitrate Online and the San Francisco Chronicle panned the film. Bloody Disgusting gave the movie a positive review, writing "Shoddy acting and a semi-weak script can't hold this movie back. It's simply too good a premise and too well-directed to let minor hindrances derail its creepy premise." Slant Online panned the film, saying "like lab rats futilely running on their treadmill, Cube eventually winds up going nowhere fast."
After Cube achieved cult status, a sequel was produced, Cube 2: Hypercube, released in 2003. The sequel explains little more about the Cube's background, and the structure of the cube has been changed; instead of an industrial look-and-feel, the rooms are high-tech operational white rooms, and the traps involve illusion and manipulation of time, space and reality.
- Kornits, Dov (8 May 1999). "eFilmCritic – Director, Vincenzo Natali – Cube". efilmcritic.com. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "Cube (1998) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- "The Canadian Film Centre :: Our Projects". cfccreates.com. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- Polster, Burkard; Ross, Marty (2012). "6 Escape from the Cube". Math Goes to the Movies. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 85–96. ISBN 978-1-4214-0484-4.
- "CBC.ca". CBC.ca. 2005-11-15. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Sfgate.com". Sfgate.com. 1998-11-20. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Biography of Vincenzo Natali". IMDb. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
- Cube Electric Sheep Magazine
- Cube Filmcritic.com
- Cube Empire Online
- Cube Nitrate Online
- `Cube's' Cogs Stuck In Its Pure Visuals San Francisco Chronicle
- Cube Bloody Disgusting
- Cube Slant Magazine
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