The Cube (film)
|Directed by||Jim Henson|
|Written by||Jim Henson
|Running time||54 minutes|
The Cube is an hour-long teleplay that aired on NBC's weekly anthology television show NBC Experiment in Television in 1969. The production was produced and directed by puppeteer and filmmaker Jim Henson, and was one of several experiments with the live-action film medium which he conducted in the 1960s, before focusing entirely on The Muppets and other puppet works. The screenplay was co-written by long-time Muppet writer Jerry Juhl.
The teleplay only aired twice: first on February 23 of 1969, with a rerun in 1970.
An unnamed man, simply called "The Man" (Richard Schaal), is trapped in a cubical white room where anyone else can enter and leave, but which he himself apparently cannot leave. A stool is brought in covered in strawberry jam. The furniture changes throughout the play. The main character is subjected to an increasingly puzzling and frustrating series of encounters as a variety of people come through various hidden doors including two people in Gorilla Suits wearing ballerina costumes. But, as many remind him, he can only leave through his own door. So he must find it to leave.
He receives various contradictory information and his character is often mocked or made to appear foolish through trickery. A monk (Jerry Nelson) gives him an orb which is supposed to hold the meaning of life but only makes a grinding noise. The man smashes it to find that, inexplicably, it is made of strawberry jam inside. Eventually, a gun is left in the room and the man attempts to shoot himself and ink squirts onto his face. All the people he had encountered enter and laugh at him. Enraged, he tells them he's had enough and that no matter what happens he knows he is real.
The man then leaves the room and is escorted into an office where he reflects on the revelation of his own realness. He accidentally cuts himself with a knife while demonstrating and is asked to taste his blood. He does so and discovers his blood is strawberry jam. The office fades away to reveal the man is still trapped in the cube. After wandering around the room one last time, he sits down on the floor apparently resigned to his fate.
- Richard Schaal - The Man
- Hugh Webster - Arnie
- Rex Sevenoaks - Manager
- Jack Van Evera - Prisoner
- John Granic - Straight Man, Sergeant
- Guy Sanvido - Comic, Fritz
- Eliza Creighton - Seductress
- Don Crawford - Black Militant
- Jerry Nelson - Monk
- Sandra Scott - Decorator
- Claude Rae - Dr. Connors
- Don McGill - Professor
- Ralph Endersby - Guitarist
- Trudy Young - Liza 1
- Ruth Springford - Liza 2
- Moe Margolese - Dr. Bingham, Father-In-Law
- Alice Hill - Mother-In-Law, Mrs. Stratton
- Lolo Farell - Margaret
- Eric Clavering - Dr. Bradowski, Old Man
- Jean Christopher - Nurse
The central plot point is strikingly similar to The Squirrel Cage, a short story by Thomas M. Disch that was published in 1967. Both stories are about a man who is imprisoned in a big white cube. The man doesn't know why he's there and never finds out. He never gets out of the cube. Disch's story also appeared in his collection Fun With Your New Head (Doubleday, 1968).
At one point Henson comments on his own teleplay through a Professor who wanders in from yet another door:
- PROFESSOR: Well, as I interpret what you’re doing here, this is all a very complex discussion of reality versus Illusion. The perfect subject for the television medium!
- MAN: What do you mean, television?
- PROFESSOR: Well, this is a television play.
- MAN: What?
- PROFESSOR: Oh, you don’t believe that?
- MAN: Of course not!
- PROFESSOR: I should have thought you’d want to. After all, there's only one other possible explanation.
- MAN: Which is?
- PROFESSOR: Hallucination. That you are altogether insane.
In 2012, Tale of Sand, a graphic novel co-written by Henson and Juhl, was released utilizing similar set pieces and sight gags. Although released long after The Cube, the script for Tale of Sand actually predates it by several years.
- The Cube at the Internet Movie Database
- The Cube (1969) Review
- one Christian interpretation of The Cube concept