Sunday, September 18, 2016

Theories on 1 - Part Two

> This Article Contains SPOILERS. <

1 Wears a Nazi Flag and a Death Mask

Clothes make the man, and in 1's case, this is probably a bad thing. Because of his lofty status at the start of the film, he wears a very king-like hat and cape in his first few scenes. He's presumably worn this outfit for most of his time as the group's leader, so it's fitting that he loses this attire piece by piece as his leadership fails over the course of the plot. There's symbolism to be found in his garments, and since 1 is quite the poetic type, he may have subconsciously chosen to wear them because of that symbolism.

Let's start with 1's cape. Its tattered edges imply that it was scavenged from the ruins rather than made for him, and it has a very distinct red color. The only other pieces of cloth that color in the film are the red flags with black and white symbols that we see strewn across the city where it takes place. These flags are later shown to have been the banners of a fascist dictator called the Chancellor, the man who first ordered the Scientist to create the Fabrication Machine and then corrupted it. In short, 1 might just be wearing what amounts to a Nazi flag.

It's been suggested in foreign dubs of the film that the Scientist modeled each stitchpunk after someone that he knew in lifewith 1 being modeled after the Chancellor. Why he would model one of his creations after the man who caused the machines to turn against humanity is unclear, but since bringing the stitchpunks to life involved transferring a piece of his own soul into their bodies, the Scientist may have inadvertently given his memories of the Chancellor to 1. It's possible that 1 then "recalled" these memories, liked some of the Chancellor's ideas, and decided to govern his own people in a similar fashion.

Wearing a piece of the Chancellor's flag, a symbol of power, could be 1's way of embracing his newfound ideology and giving himself the confidence that he needs to rule his group singlehandedly. It's easy to imagine how this could corrupt his noble intentions over the years. This could also explain why he's so reluctant to remove his cape when one of the machines tries to snare him by it. He isn't just letting go of an accessory or a status symbol, he's letting go of the assurance that his way of managing things still works.

Next, there's 1 hat. This garment's most notable feature is the copper one-cent coin that he has fastened to it. The first thought is that 1 wears this coin on his head because it happens to have his name embossed on one side of it. This may be true, but later in the film, that same coin is used to cover the face of a dead stitchpunk during a funeral. This suggests that the stitchpunks have some sort of belief about the afterlife and that they associate coins with death. Whether or not 1 shares these views, he could be wearing one of those death symbols as a way to intimidate the other characters into following his rule. He's reminding them without words that death is always nearby and that he alone has control over it.

Much like his cape though, this decoration seems to delude the leader in a very unfortunate way. By wearing a symbol of death on his hat, 1 literally has death hanging over his head all the time. That's not a good position for someone as insecure as 1 to be in. It may have fed his fear of the machines to the point that he became paranoid, which then pushed him to more drastic methods of keeping the stitchpunks in line. Other factors played larger roles in this of course, such as three of the stitchpunks deserting the cathedral and another one becoming more and more curious about the outside world, but that lingering dread in the back of 1's mind from his coin could have sent him on a subtle but steady decline over the years.

The fact that he doesn't start to find his courage until after the coin falls from his hat further supports that the copper piece represents death. By losing that symbol, his fear of death probably becomes more abstract and somewhat easier to live with. Again, other factors play larger roles in 1's transformation after this point, but the loss of his morbid token and its false sense of power could have forced him to finally stand tall on his own.

I think what makes 1 so interesting to 9 fans is that we know he's one of the good guys. No matter how objectionable his behavior is, he's still acting in what he believes to be the group's best interest. The challenge then is to figure out his logic from the clues around us, which is very fitting in a movie about searching for the truth. We want to understand and like 1 because at the end of the day, we all know that the calloused cermudgeon has a soul inside.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Theories on 1 - Part One

> This Article Contains SPOILERS. <

Directed by Shane Acker, the movie 9 is an animated film about nine rag dolls trying to live in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by machines that have wiped out humanity. These rag dolls, known as stitchpunks, come to learn that they and the machines were both created by a man called the Scientist, and that their purpose is to defeat the machines and restore the Earth. The film has developed a cult following since its release in 2009, largely because it lends itself to a lot of discussion and fan theories. Today, in honor of 9's recent seventh birthday, I want to offer two fan theories about the character named "1."

All nine stitchpunks are named after the numerical order of their creation. The newcomer and protagonist is named 9 while the oldest stitchpunk who leads the group is named 1. 1 is by far the most complex character in the story, being both an arrogant coward and a tragic, failing protector. You can spend days analyzing him and come up with dozens of theories about his backstory and motivations. With that said, let's explore the first of today's two.

1 Has a Soft Spot for 6

1's main goal throughout the movie is to keep the stitchpunks safely hidden away from the machines that roam the outside world. The character 6's main goal is to direct the stitchpunks out into that world to find "the Source," their place of origin that holds the secrets of their creation. Because of this, it stands to reason that 1 would see 6 as a nuisance and resent him. However, there's actually evidence to suggest that deep beneath his cold, crabby exterior, 1 may have a hint of compassion for the eccentric little visionary.

For starters, 1 never seems to get angry at 6 for telling the others to go find the Source. He only ever gets angry at the others for taking 6's advice. This is likely because the others usually don't know what 6 is talking about when he refers to "the Source," which makes his urgings a less direct threat to their safety. It's also likely that 1 knows better than to blame the striped stitchpunk, as 6 is very childlike and detached from his surroundings. Still, scaring him into "better" behavior wouldn't be impossible. We see 6 recoil in fear from 1's brutish bodyguard 8 on one occasion, and he knows to run away from all of the machines that attack the group. He's clearly aware enough of others to be reprimanded, yet 1 doesn't resort to that. The film hints that 1 knows the Scientist used alchemy to create the machines and that he's trying to keep it a secret from the other stitchpunks so they don't dabble in "dark science" as well. Maybe he understands what a burden it is to know something that the rest of the group doesn't and sympathizes with 6's reclusiveness.

We also see that 6's room is right next to 1's throne room in the cathedral where the stitchpunks live. This is odd since 1 appears to prefer living apart from the rest of the group and is much tidier than 6. It could be that the leader is keeping him away from the others so 6 can't give them ideas to go exploring outside, but if that's the case, it appears to be all that 1's doing. 6 spends most of his time in his room drawing pictures of the Source to show to people; 1 knows this and knows how problematic it could be, but he never does anything to prevent it. Why not take away all of 6's ink and paper so he can't draw anymore? Perhaps 1 realizes that drawing is 6's favorite pastime and he doesn't want to deprive the artist of that. He almost even seems to encourage it, as we see that he has a large drawing of 6's displayed on the wall of his throne room. It's also possible that he keeps 6 close to him so the impressionable youngster doesn't get any bad ideas in turn from the other stitchpunks.

Most telling of all, it's right after 6's death that 1 finally takes charge in destroying the movie's main villain, the Fabrication Machine. Up until this point, we either saw 1 running and hiding or following someone else's lead in fighting the machinesand often being a detriment because of his cowardice. When the Fabrication Machine kills 6 though, the elder decides for himself that action must be taken against the metal monster.

Granted, he's dismissing the artist's dying plea not to destroy the Fabrication Machine even though 6 claims that the souls of the dead stitchpunks are inside of it and need to be released. It can also be argued that 1 wants to destroy the machine more to save himself than to avenge 6, but compare his reaction to the youngster's death with his reaction to the character 5's death right before it. The Fabrication Machine kills 5 at a time when 1 is reeling with shame over his failure as a leader, and when he's given a chance to help the others destroy the villain afterwards by making a bridge collapse under it, he does nothing. 6 is then lost while intervening, and 1 responds by forming his own plan to destroy the machine. 5's death didn't push him to become braver, but 6's did.

As for ignoring 6's plea to spare the Fabrication Machine and release the souls from it, 1 might think that 6 is just following instructions left by the Scientist. 1 despises the Scientist for using dark science to create the machines, and he probably blames the man for 6's obsession with the Source. When that obsession leads 6 to his death, it's possible that 1 rejects this plan involving the Scientist's agenda as a way to get revenge on his creator as well as on the Fabrication Machine.

PART TWO coming soon