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 dates||September 9, 1997 (Toronto International Film Festival)
September 11, 1998 (United States)
|Running time||90 minutes|
Cube is a 1997 Canadian science fiction psychological horror film, directed and co-written by Vincenzo Natali. The film was a successful product of the Canadian Film Centre's First Feature Project.
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, having almost been killed by one, informs them that some cubes contain traps. 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. They realize that there are different kinds of detectors, and Quentin deduces that this detector was triggered by heat.
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.
Using Leaven's calculations, 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 provokes Worth about getting a way out, to which Worth shouts that there is no way out of here. 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 each 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, which makes the room possible to enter and pass it. 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. Kazan cries and urinates in the room.
They arrive at an edge room and find a wide, unlit gap between it and the outer shell, which is not visible. Holloway swings out to investigate, using a fashioned 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, showing that Quentin is in a state of anger and paranoia.
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 completely demoralizing, but then Worth realizes that they are not going in circles, the rooms are moving periodically.
Leaven suddenly has an hunch, deduces that traps are not tagged by prime numbers but by powers of prime numbers, and they notice Kazan's repeat of several numbers. Quentin realizes that 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, seeing that Quentin will eventually kill them, 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 Dr. David W. Pravica, a mathematician. 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 (minus an unknown amount of rooms to allow for movement, as shown in the film), 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, for example, 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.
History of The Cube
According to the timeline of the series, this is actually the second Cube built. Cube Zero was an prequel to the original and the story happened some time before the original. It was mentioned that the Cube was probably planned by a bureaucracy. The timeline, place and purpose of the Cube is completely unknown and never mentioned during the film; the secrecy of the Cube and no possible explanation of it was given, acquiring a cult status. Even though there was no explanation of the Cube, the characters placed in the cube (except Anderson, who died at the very beginning) all had a unique skill to help them out of the Cube; Quentin's cleverness, Worth's knowledge about the Cube, Leaven's mathematical skills, Kazan's savancy, Holloway's temper, and Rennes's artist skills. The timeline is one of the key elements; all of the traps are industrial based (acid sprays, flamethrowers, impaling spikes), different kinds of motion detectors that react on different things, but in the movie, only notable detectors were those for motion, sound and heat.
- Maurice Dean Wint as Quentin; claims to be a police officer. He is a gruff and aggressive man who takes charge and undertakes most of the dangerous tasks. He is said to be in his 40-s.
- Nicole de Boer as Joan Leaven, a young student with mathematical skills. She is said to be in her early 20-s.
- Nicky Guadagni as Dr. Helen Holloway, a free clinic doctor and a paranoid conspiracy theorist. She is said to be in her early 50-s.
- David Hewlett as David Worth, a chronic malcontent and cynic who unwittingly designed the outer shell of the Cube. He is said to be in late 20-s to early 30-s.
- Andrew Miller as Kazan, an autistic man with the ability to rapidly and accurately perform prime number calculations. He is said to be in his 20-s.
- Wayne Robson as Rennes, also known as "the Wren", an escape artist who has gotten out of seven prisons. He is said to be in his early 60-s.
- Julian Richings as Alderson, a prisoner and an unknown character. He woke up in another room and never met the rest of the group.
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 color 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 68% 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 Magazine panned the film, saying "like lab rats futilely running on their treadmill, Cube eventually winds up going nowhere fast."
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- "Cube (1998) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
- Gates, Anita (September 11, 1998). "Cube (1997) FILM REVIEW; No Maps, Compasses Or Faith". The New York Times.
- "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. Archived from the original on 2006-02-11. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- "Sfgate.com". Sfgate.com. 1998-11-20. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Emmer, Michele; Manaresi, Mirella (2003). Mathematics, Art, Technology, and Cinema. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag. pp. 172–180. ISBN 3-540-00601-X.
- 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
- "Cube 2: Hypercube". The New York Times.
- "Cube Zero". The New York Times.
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