Review of Flatland: The Movie

For all of you who are also math fans, I wrote a review of Flatland: The Movie and it’s now up at the website for Skeptical Inquirer.

As in the book, there are subtle questions in this movie that any skeptic would appreciate: Why are the priests (those with hundreds or thousands of sides) trying to repress any information about the third dimension? Can mathematical/scientific truth trump accepted dogma? Is the truth accessible only to the elite, or can it be grasped by anyone?

If you haven’t read the book, there’s something very wrong with you. Because it’s brilliant.

If you haven’t seen the movie in question, here’s the trailer:



  • indyfreethinker

    Meh… I’m waiting for the 3D version on blu-sphere.

  • echoecho

    I thought the book was fascinating in a number of different ways, but also terribly sexist. “Male” shapes could have any number of sides – “female” shapes, however, were only lines. It rendered females so vastly different from males, as an integral part of the world, that they weren’t even comparable.

  • Eliza

    My mathematically-inclined son was the one who discovered Flatland (the book) – we’ve read it a number of times (also the quasi-sequel, Sphereland, by Dionys Burger).

    Edwin Abbott Abbott, author of Flatland, was a clergyman. Presumably he was thinking of God as existing in higher dimensions & us as being the ones limited in our thinking about the greater possibilities.

    I hadn’t realized movies had been made of Flatland. Agreed, the book is horribly sexist. In this trailer clip, though, it looks like the girl-children at least were allowed to be something other than needle-shaped – there’s a hexagon with a hairbow that’s either a little girl or a cross-dressing little boy.

  • jacob

    Looks interesting, but a little heavy handed.

  • Claudia

    Looks very interesting, though I doubt it’ll make it to Spain. Hopefully on DVD:

    I thought the book was fascinating in a number of different ways, but also terribly sexist. “Male” shapes could have any number of sides – “female” shapes, however, were only lines. It rendered females so vastly different from males, as an integral part of the world, that they weren’t even comparable.

    I haven’t read the book, but I’ll take your word for it. Judging by the trailer though, they’ve eliminated that detail, probably related to the fact it was written in 1884, out. I saw at least two visibly female two-dimensional individuals in the trailer.

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com arkonbey

    I bought and read Flatland only because of Dr. Carl Sagan’s mentioning of it in Cosmos.

    I’ll probably miss the film, though…

  • mrcranky

    Pedantic comment: The flats’ internal structures should be visible all the time. In the video, their lips cover their teeth and their eyes blink on the side, which in their 2D world would be impossible. We should be able to see their recently consumed breakfasts and so forth.

    I’m sure in a classroom setting, the obnoxious smart kids will point that out immediately.

    Loved that book by the way. I should get my kids to read it.

  • echoecho

    Claudia and Eliza, thank you! I was commenting while tired, and didn’t watch the clip. I really enjoyed reading Flatland, but every time Abbott went into gender stuff I wished I could invent a time machine, transport myself back to him, and kick him in the shin.

    Clearly some of my frustration has lingered. I’m glad to see they got rid of that, and kept the stuff that makes the book worthwhile.

  • Rob

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve never heard of this before (damn). I’ll definitly be on the lookout for the DVD. I think my kids would like it too.

  • Alec

    I first heard of the idea of Flatland about a year ago while reading Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace (great book). Definitely going to get the DVD.

  • http://smorgzone.blogspot.com Smorg

    Love the book, tho cautious about the potential metaphysical (mis)use of its concepts.

    @MrCranky: But then the ‘truth’ of the story is that the reality is in 3D but the Flatland folks could only perceive 2D of it, isn’t it? We the audience are surely not seeing in 2D like the characters that are stuck on the plane do… we’re sort of looking in from ‘above’, utilizing the 3rd dimension.

  • Rob

    Two hits on the same day?!?!

    Watching “Big Bang Theory” tonight and Sheldon does a long bit about Flatland. Crazy. Then they have Danica McKellar (Winnie Cooper the Math Wiz) on as a guest star.

    Great show. Definitely going to look for DVD now.

  • stoat100

    The sexism of the original is fixed in the sequel starring (the 1D) Victoria Line ;)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatterland

  • Greg

    I loved that episode. My Dad gave me a copy of the book back in the 60s. Have you seen the feature length, computer animated film at http://www.flatlandthefilm.com/ It’s been modernized to reflect the current times. It’s brilliant.


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