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Flatland: The Movie

Martin Sheen , Kristen Bell , Dano Johnson , Jeffrey Travis  |  G |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

List Price: $42.00
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Product Details

  • Actors: Martin Sheen, Kristen Bell, Michael York, Tony Hale
  • Directors: Dano Johnson, Jeffrey Travis
  • Writers: Seth Caplan
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Greek
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Flat World Productions, LLC
  • Run Time: 34 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 1604615370
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,408 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Flatland: The Movie" on IMDb

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Flatland: The Movie is an exciting half-hour animated film based on Edwin Abbott's classic novel. Flatland is an entirely two-dimensional world where different shapes live, work, and play--all under the rule of the evil Circles who are determined to keep the third dimension a secret, at any cost. The story follows Arthur Square (Martin Sheen) and his curious granddaughter Hex (Kristen Bell). When the mysterious visitor Spherius (Michael York) arrives from Spaceland, Arthur and Hex face grave danger as they begin to come to terms with the truth of the third dimension. Combining action, drama, geometry, and sociopolitical commentary, this moving story challenges audiences to grasp the limitations of their assumptions about reality and to think about the possibility of higher and previously inconceivable dimensions (both literal and metaphorical).

DVD features:

  • 4-D short feature: Brown University mathematician Thomas Banchoff discusses Flatland and the fourth dimension
  • Interviews with cast members Martin Sheen, Kristen Bell, Michael York, Tony Hale, and Joe Estevez
  • English and Spanish subtitles
  • Full text of the novel that inspired the movie

Review

Winner of the 2008 Berlin Special Jury Award, MathFilm Festival

"The animation of Flatland stays close to the original in spirit, reinterpreting the tale for today's audiences. . . . I can imagine young people being intrigued by the ideas. . . . The main objective is to have fun playing around with the dimensional analogy, and I'd say the animation does that very well indeed."--Ian Stewart, Notices of the American Mathematical Society

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
228 of 240 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two reviews in one April 8, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This review covers both versions of "Flatland" released in 2007, one by Ladd Ehlinger, Jr. with a mostly unknown voice cast, and the other by Jeffrey Travis with some Hollywood big names providing the voices.

The source material for both is the 1884 novella by Edwin A. Abbott, but the approaches of the two films differ radically. The book is a staple of science fiction, and one of the few to address mathematical issues at its core. Being a product of its time, the book is technically naive, and politically incorrect based on current sensibilities.

The Travis film is visually slicker, but significantly shorter, and tackles philosophical issues relative to the passage of time from initial publication. As such, it tampers with the plot to mixed effect. Unlike some others, I have no problem with some of the revisions to the underlying plot since they do help bring some of the book's major issues into somewhat sharper focus. On the other hand, they also add a "feel good" and politically correct sensibility that seems out of place.

The Ehlinger film is much truer to its source material, which is both a strength and a weakness. Given a current perspective, its 19th century depiction of the political and social subjugation of women is a distraction that the Travis film avoids. It's also a longer film and could have been more effective with some of the same plot and editing license employed in the Travis film. Where it does tamper with the plot, some of the decisions are questionable as other reviewers have pointed out.

So which is better? In my opinion, the short answer is the Ehlinger film.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps overcome two dimensional thinking August 21, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"The book of nature is written in mathematics."

-- Galileo

From Euclid forward, mathematicians have kind of served as reality's accountants alterting us to mathematical truths and their impact on the lives we live.

That's why when a lifelong mathematician like Edwin Abbott Abbott takes the time to sit down and write book in parable form about a basic mathematical truth...well...it's probably worth our time to sit down and read it.

In Abbott's 1884 classic masterpiece Flatlands, Abbott told the story of A Square...a resident of Flatland who comes to discover the existence of the third dimension. For those who haven't yet read the book, I would recommend Ian Stewart's brilliant Flatland Annotated in which Stewart (himself a lifelong mathematician) verbatim goes through Abbott's book annotating it along the way with helpful explanatory tidbits and information. In some cases, Stewart's annotations explain Abbott's points in terms of the basic mathematics or history. In other cases, Stewart provides information about the development of mathematical theory since Flatlands was written.

In one line of developments, for example, Euclid's fifth postulate is overturned and in another the idea that any one mathematical system can find all mathematical truth is iself overturned...both significant findings. For more on these developments or other interesting math issues, you can turn to Stewart's follow up Flatterland, the Dover publications treatment on Mathematical Fallacies and Paradoxes or even the highly readable Choas, Coincidence and All that Math Jazz.

But for those not interested in reading but simple and quick exposition on the issues raised by Flatland, I would suggest this movie.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar animation and cast October 27, 2007
Format:DVD
As an elementary teacher, I was impressed at how the filmmakers tell this story in a way that it is visually appealing and engaging for children, while at the same time thought provoking for adults.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for teachers! January 10, 2010
Format:DVD
I'm a high school math teacher, and for the past couple years I have shown my students this movie whether they were in a lower-level or Honors-level class. Regardless of age or skill, they have absolutely loved it. Watching and discussing the movie is consistently among their favorite memories of our class. More importantly, their curiosity about tesseracts (fourth-dimensional analogs of a cube) and string theory (which hypothesizes eleven dimensions) extends well beyond the classroom.

When I began teaching, the only popular movie about math was Donald in Mathmagic Land, a Disney film from 1959 featuring Donald Duck. As enduring as that movie has been, I can say from experience it doesn't connect as well with modern students.

Flatland: The Movie doesn't have that problem.

There are a few notable differences from the book, which should be expected when trying to condense all the original material into a half-hour production aimed at children. Women are no longer the lesser of the sexes (they are polygons just like the men; one woman even serves as a boss), and the main character, now named Arthur Square, is given a granddaughter (appropriately named "Hex").

The differences here, though, don't hurt the movie. If anything, students who enjoyed the movie were enthusiastic about reading the book.

This should be required viewing for any twenty-first century math teacher.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good
Published 1 month ago by eunyoung Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Great DVD. My 5th-7th grade math classes love it
Great DVD. My 5th-7th grade math classes love it. Leads to great, deep discussion on the nature of reality and metaphysics.
Published 2 months ago by JWH
3.0 out of 5 stars Educators Beware: personal edition, not classroom edition!
In terms of content, this video deserves a 5 because ...
- The video is engaging and full of subtle mathematical humor. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AMR
4.0 out of 5 stars My stepson liked this movie
It was a gift for my stepson and I didn't see it myself so I can't commemt on its quality.
Published 4 months ago by Robert S Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classroom aid
Used at the end of the year on days when students were taking End of Course tests. Only 37 minutes long! High school students found it interesting and entertaining. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Robert
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Movie for Math Club
We showed this at our weekly math club meeting and it generated lots of conversation about extending the concept into the 4th dimension. Lots of fun!
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent visual representation of the classical novel
This video is an excellent visual display of the classical novel flat land. It is almost as you might imagine reading it.
I rated it at a 4 and I really meant 3. Read more
Published 4 months ago by M Al-Shaer
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and educational movie
Fun movie that I remember the book from 30 years ago...my students enjoyed it and would recommend to any math teacher.
Published 12 months ago by jt
5.0 out of 5 stars Great modernized interpretation of the book for students and...
I've read reviews where mathematicians and other "professional" math types complained that the video was not exactly a recreation of the book. Read more
Published 15 months ago by The Randster
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see!
This doesn't follow directly from the book, but I see that as a good thing. I love the subject, but the book wasn't all that well written. Read more
Published 18 months ago by J. Clark
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Topic From this Discussion
Movie or book???????
There IS a DVD version (which you can also purchase securely at www.flatlandthemovie.com) but in early 2008 Princeton Press will release a new hardback edition of the book with artwork from the movie and the screenplay. Somehow the details of both products got mangled... hopefully temporarily.
Nov 16, 2007 by Dano |  See all 2 posts
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