Flatland Movies and Films

Several movies have been inspired by the book, Flatland. The plot of the book is largely philosophic and mathematical, much of the writing is taken up in description. It is difficult to form it into a narrative that engages for an extended period of time. However, there are basic fundamental conflicts depicted that lend themselves to story-telling in the movie format. First there is the social struggle among the different classes. There is also the notion of other dimensions and their influence on Flatland. Finally, there is the idea of an underlying truth, a "gospel" that must be spread and the resistance within the society to the truth.

Thus the plots of the films made of Flatland take these themes and run with them. The titles of the two works are differentiated by their subtitles, "The Movie" and "The Film". In both, liberties have been taken with the plot.

Flatland: The Movie was directed by Dano Johnson and Jeffrey Travis. It stars the voices of such notable actors as Martin Sheen and Michael York. The animation is smooth and slick. There are some major divergences between the book and the movie. First, the females are also polygons. In the book all the females are lines and part of the biting satire of the book had to do with this fact. Political correctness has dulled most of the sharp edges of the book. Even so, most reviewers indicate that it is both entertaining and educational. This movie runs to about one half-hour long and most teachers would be comfortable showing it in classes to do with physics, mathematics, or sociology.

Flatland: The Film retains more of the original work by Edwin A. Abbot. The animation is less advanced than the "Movie". Its director, Ladd Ehlinger had a smaller budget, but managed to create an interesting production 98 minutes long. It deviates from the book as the sphere takes Square into the three dimensional world. Part of the idea is that there is an imbalance in the universe with Square out of his natural environment. In the book, Square left the two dimensional plane briefly, but it did not have cosmic consequences. The sphere is somewhat of a caricature as are many of the other characters. The film dates itself by perhaps including too many current references, a mistake that Abbott did not make in the book. The movie is worth a look.

Both Flatland: The Movie, and Flatland: The Film are available on our Resources page.

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