The movie, produced by Tim Burton (who saw the original short and loved it), released on 9th September 2009. Note, however, that Acker designed, directed and co-wrote both films with Burton providing the financing. You can see the trailer here.
The main characters are sackdolls, or ragdolls depending on who you ask, though two are made from garden gloves. The creator, Shane Acker, has officially dubbed them "stitchpunks". This has generally become the term for them in fandom.In both cases, the plot follows a stuffed sackdoll, simply known by the number 9 painted onto his back, as he attempts to survive in an Alternate Universe where humanity has been wiped out.The short was released first, and chronicles 9's attempts to defeat an unnamed mechanical creature, who killed 5, his one-eyed mentor, and the other dolls, and retrieve the machine's soul-stealing device. The film, while ambiguous about the setting, was praised for its storyline and plot.The movie expands on the short considerably; Nine awakens alone in a burned out house in the ruins of a city, with no clue to his origins except a mysterious talisman. He begins to explore the wasteland and quickly encounters both the Cat-Beast and his own numbered compatriots (each of whom is more fully flushed out as a character). Soon, they are drawn into an exploration both humanity's destruction and their own origins as a terrible enemy hunts them down to consume their souls.
Stitchpunk: A subgenre of Steampunk. "Fiction influenced by the DIY and crafts element of Steampunk, with a prime example being Shane Acker's 9, in which cute Frankenstein doll-creatures stitched together from bits of burlap sack try to save the world. In a wider context, Stitchpunk emphasizes the role of weavers, tinkers, and darners in Steampunk." Termed by Acker and outlined as such officially in The Steampunk Bible (page 55). More details and examples may be found here.
Apocalypse How: At least a Class 3a extinction but possibly ranging up from a Class 4 extinction event to a Class 5 as the planet appears to be devoid of any life whatsoever besides the dolls and the machines. However, whether the entire planet is like this or just the small portion where the movie takes place is unknown. The ending seems to suggest heavily Class 5. What with all of the dolls except 9, 7, 3, & 4 gone, and as the dead ones ascend into the sky, it starts raining, showing a close-up of some sort of microorganisms in said raindrop.
Cats Are Mean: The Cat Beast in both incarnations, with its movie version's savagery being upped to eleven.
Mechanical Lifeforms: The dolls seem to be small sentient robots made out of scrap, possess some form of "soul" and look like they could, say, repair themselves with anything to hand. The machines that hunt them incorporate non-standard building materials, like animal skulls.
the method of their creation seems to point towards their being some manner of primitive Hommunculi.
Right Behind Me: In abundance in the film, but prominently featured in the original short: as 5 is looking around for the Machine, the camera shifts to show his front and the Machine behind him readying its claws with Audible Sharpness. 5's eye gets wide and he assumes an expression we all know.
Adaptation Expansion: The original short, which has a single mechanical beast collecting the souls for who-knows-what with a talisman and the silent 5 and 9 out to avenge their friends, is expanded to a voiced feature in which that beast is but a minion planning to use that talisman to revive something much worse, and all nine stitchpunks dealing with it.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Fabrication Machine. Justified: The Fabrication Machine's AI was made to be as human-like as possible, so when the Chanceller forced it to work too hard for too long, it did what any human would have done, it snapped.
Big Damn Heroes: 9 and others are cornered by a beast twice with no apparent way out, when 7 suddenly appears out of nowhere to save the day. (although the second time this was attempted 7 ended up with a harpoon in her leg.)
"Let me try that again."
Big "NO!": It's got Elijah Wood. What do you think?
Bittersweet Ending: The machine is defeated, but the world is still no better than before and 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8 have all passed on. 9's narration says that he has no idea what is left...except that the world now belongs to the few sackdolls that remain. Except for the somethings seen dividing in the raindrops hitting the camera at the end...implying that they've restored life to the world. Or something.
The freed souls of the dead sackdolls mixed with primordial ooze in the atmosphere and created new organic life.
And apparently it's up to 9, 7, 3 and 4 to oversee this new life.
Bodyguard Crush: To some extent, 8 for 1. (But of course, much of this is fan-related.)
Break the Cutie: 5. In his blog, The Scientist talks about how pure and trusting 5 is... then he loses an eye in an explosion, his best friend gets kidnapped, said friend dies before his eyes minutes after getting rescued due to idiocy on the part of the hero, and when he finally learns to stand up for himself and enjoy life, he dies. He's happy at the end of the movie, but, still...
Cain and Abel: 1 felt very threatened by 2's curiosity and feared that he might be overthrown, which is why he sent 2 out into the Emptiness to die. (It may not be as violent, but it gets the job done). 1 and 2 are also widely considered as brothers in the fandom.
Did you forget about the little box under the scientist's hand with the "9" tag on it? And 9's half of the talisman?
And also the big puddle of oil/petrol that 5 and 9 hop across when in the factory.
In a deleted scene, the key around 6's neck was used to open the box at the end.
The propeller of the aeroplane that's lodged in the church roof.
Cloudcuckoolander: 6, when not drawing out his visions or being chased, seems to be off in his own little world or acting silly. The twins, 3 and 4, may also count. 6 is also an example of The Cuckoolander Was Right.
5 from the short film had his role split between 2 and 5 in the Burton-produced film.
A second inversion: All the characters are technically the same person.
Conflict Ball: 1 starts out opposing everything 9 suggests. Then everyone else starts opposing 9's ideas as well near the end, when they try to destroy the Machine but he doesn't want to. 1 even refuses at first to take of his cape to save his life, for no adequately explained reason.
The last one can be sort of explained...1 never actually refused, or said "no," he said "I can't." He probably was afraid he'd fall if he freed one hand, but he still isn't flat-out opposing 9.
The fact that 1 didn't want to remove his cape could have been symbolic. The cape could symbolize to 1 his authority over the stichpunks, and losing it would mean losing the very thing that defined him (besides his dogged stubbornness). It could also foreshadow his eventual Heroic Sacrifice later in the movie. First, a lost cape, next, Soul Theft.
OR he could have just not wanted to loosen his desperate grip so as to free a hand for taking the cape off.
Demoted to Extra: The Cat Beast was the main villain in the short and was implied to have hunted and killed every single stichpunk, save 9, who defeats the creature. In the film it only shows up for two sequences before being swiftly killed by 7 and doesn't cause the deaths of anyone.
Dieselpunk: Despite the (somewhat unjustifiable) association with Steampunk, a good amount of the world pre-Machine War can count pretty well. It was the 1940s, metal and electricity were the norm, the Fabrication Machine was created by an eccentric scientist and it was all happening in a country greatly resembling Germany.
Died Happily Ever After: All the stitchpunks who died return for one final farewell to the survivors before dissipating.
Dies Wide Open: Any doll who dies in the movie dies with their eyes and mouths wide open. Wide open.
Dirty Coward: 1. In his defense, there's a reason this film has a Nightmare Fuel entry. "Sometimes fear is the appropriate response," indeed.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: Sometime pre-storyline, the unidentified country of setting was ruled by a dark-haired, stony-faced Evil Chancellor who plasters cities with flags displaying his red, black & white symbol, promises "the dawn of a NEW ERA! " seems to have a decent amount of Mooks in his employ, and is ultimately responsible for many, many horrific deaths.
Also, the scene where 8... ahem, pleasures himself by magnetizing his eyes right before the new 2 appears... no less, this took place in a courtyard of giant female statues!
8's "magnet abuse" could also be interpreted as a Fantastic Drug. Using a mundane object, like a magnet, while sitting in a park bears strong similarities to sniffing glue. Could also explain 8's below average intelligence.
Esoteric Motifs: The pseudo-alchemical glyphs of the Talisman crop up repeatedly throughout the film, largely thanks to 6 and his obsessive drawing. The Paracelsus text that briefly appears tells the observant viewer that the three main ones apparently represent 'Spiritus' (spirit), 'Animus' (mind) and 'Corpus' (body).
Eye Scream: Though it's not a human eye, and therefore less creepy, the scene of 5 losing his eye is still pretty cringe-worthy. There were frayed wires and sparks coming from his empty socket, fer crissakes! The fact that the souls get sucked out through the eyes and mouth, which shatters the glass in the optics (Or, in 5's case, burns a hole through his patch) counts too.
7 smashes one of the Cat Beast's eyes before finishing it off.
An original design shows that the scientist and the chancellor fought to the death, and the chancellor has a quill stuck through his eye socket. Not kidding.◊
Also applies to when (5 shoots The Seamstress in the eye with his crossbow when it restrains 7)
9 is also commonly referred to as 9Noob. For obvious reasons...
Fantastic Drug: While on guard duty, 8 pulls out a horseshoe magnet and holds it over his head. He starts guffawing like an idiot and bubbling can be heard. (By the way, the movie rating got marked up for drug use.)
Fingore: Like with 5's eye, it isn't as bad since it's not a human hand, but 1's hand gets mangled in an explosion near the end.
Foreshadowing: See Ironic Echo. There was a little bit of foreshadowing for 9's disastrous curiosity, too: 2 has to stop him messing around with a bullet while he fixes his voicebox. See here.
"Sometimes, 1 must be sacrificed..."
8's design has several vertical lines over his mouth, which look like, say, stitches... Later on 8 has his mouth stitched shut.
The Forties: In an alternate universe, at least, given the date on the newspaper clippings (1930) and the old-fashioned record player playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow (recorded in 1939). Not that it's really important, though, since most human concepts of time have probably been eliminated.
A Mark I tank (1916) can be seen sticking out of the ground at one point, but it's a blink-and-you'll miss it scene, so the 40s have much more evidence going for them.
Freeze Frame Bonus: Sort of. It's on screen for a few seconds, but is almost unnoticeable unless its been pointed out. A deleted scene has the characters open the music box/projector with 6's key, and we see there's a word inscribed inside. While the finished product didn't focus too much on this, the word is still there. The word is "hope". Pandora's box reference?
In the beginning after 9 awakens, he passes a body. This body stands out because it is the only dead human body where the face is shown. This body has been confirmed to be the chancellor, having the same face and uniform.
Another little thing: In the background while 8's investigating outside the library, there's a sign which reads "Every evil and every good is a shadow which we cast", which is a bit hard to make out due to the light.
Freudian Excuse: Watch the Fabrication Machine in the flashback where the scientist creates it. It appears to flail around when the scientist is dragged away from it, almost as if it's trying to reach out to him. After that is when it starts throttling Mooks.
From Bad to Worse: All the time. After 7 kills the Beast, 9 awakens the Fabrication Machine. After they kill the Winged Beast, Mr. Fab sends the Seamstress. When they kill the Seamstress, Mr. Fab sends his spider robot mook things. When they blow the factory up, Mr. Fab pulls a Disney Death, kills 5 and 6, and then kills 1 before they finally kill it. The poor sackdolls just can't catch a break.
Gadgeteer Genius: 2 and The Scientist who created the sackdolls. The Fabrication Machine has this in its job description, and can create Killer Robots from pretty much anything that's lying around. This is because it has the Scientist's intelligence.
9, when he uses the remains of 2's hat after The Beast kidnaps him. 5 even mentions it by saying, "2 would be impressed." to make the lightbulb staff. He later uses it as a decoy in a plan to kill The Seamstress and succeeds.
Gainax Ending: The end is left absolutely open to interpretation as to the future of the world.
Guile Hero: 9. No, really. Fair enough, he does make a pretty big mistake, but he does have a manipulative streak as well (as shown when speaking to 5 in the watch tower, and acknowledged in the DVD commentary) and makes good use of his wits when he actually gets into the action (case in point, killing the Seamstress). Not bad for a little guy.
Hard Head: 2 gets smacked in the head by 9 with a monkey wrench. Despite how old he seems, he walks around with little trouble after 9 helps him stand. If you listen, you can hear glass break when 9 swings the wrench. This suggests that 2 had the eyeglass-lens visor of his hat down in front of his face when he got ambushed; it's broken after the attack.
He is wearing it. You have to pay close attention, since the scene goes by so fast, but it's possible to briefly see 2's face, complete with visor, just before he's hit.
Hearing Voices: Though it is only slightly hinted at in the viral sites (and almost not in the movie) many fans believe that 6 hears voices in his head. However, in a deleted scene, it is heavily implied as 6 appears to talk back.
"Huh? 2?...2 is...coming?"
Helicopter Blender: The bird-machine's harpoon-cord is tangled in the prop of a crashed airplane, which 5 manages to activate and chop it to fragments.
Heroic BSOD: 9 visibly goes through a miniature one following 5's death and has to be dragged away by 1.
Heroic Sacrifice: 1. 9 attempted it right before that too. 1: "Sometimes one must be sacrificed for the good of many" This is also a case of Foreshadowing, because when 1 originally said it, he was talking about how he sent 2 off.
Idiot Ball: At first, the Talisman seems to be a physical manifestation of this at times. First of all, when 2 has it, he makes 9 hide from the Beast, but makes no attempt to do the same. And then when 9 has it... see Too Dumb to Live.
7's skullmet is pretty nice, though it may fall under Mask Power as well.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The first chance he gets, 9 sticks the talisman into an outlet without thinking about it at all. This not only kills 2 but wakes up the Fabrication Machine. As 1 points out, and not inaccurately, "Ever since you got here, things have been unraveling!"
Keep in mind that he tried to smash a cased bullet early on; think of what would have happened had 2 not stopped him. He just seems dangerously curious.
However he is Younger Than He Looks. 9 has only been 'alive' for about an hour when he meets 2. By this assumption, he's only a toddler, and what do toddlers do? they try to put the round peg in the round hole, he's only emulating someone of his age. To compare him to the others, they have been 'alive' long enough for 7,3 and 4 to go searching for answers to why the world is dead, and the others seem to have been activated for a while and none of them outright blame him for starting the Fabrication machine.
Red Herring: The key that 6 carries. 9's box has a keyhole.Does This Remind You of Anything? might be more appropriate. Confirmed by an alternate ending/scrabbed sub-plot from the DVD extras where 6's key opens a second chamber in the box, which contains a mirror and the enscription "Hope" - which goes with a piece of paper in 9's zipper-pouch that reads "The Last."
Rule of Symbolism: When we first see 1, the leader of the group, he has a cape with a jewel on it, a staff, and a Nice Hat. Over the course of the film, he loses them one by one, as 9 starts taking more charge than him and the others listen to 9 instead. The icing on the cake, the last part of his outfit that needs removing, he removes himself.
The above makes this deleted scene pretty interesting...the last part of 1's outfit to be removed falls off after he speaks with and finally accepts 9.
Sacrificial Lamb: 2, who shows up, gives 9 a voice, is attacked and kidnapped by a cat-monster, and then kicks it minutes after his rescue due to some phenomenal stupidity on 9's part.
Scavenged Punk: The film takes it to new and beautiful extremes. Almost everything, including the characters, is built out of human materials left over. The amount of beautiful background detail makes Scavenged Punk into truly amazing Scenery Porn. Specific cool examples include character made out of gloves, a staff with a lightbulb head, and a candle hat.
Schizo Tech: The newspapers from "before" list dates in the 1930s, but Over The Rainbow was not released until '39, and the B.R.A.I.N and other machines make it even more confusing. Being in an alternate reality though, it can easily be hand waved.
DVD extras also have people pointing out how the lightbulb staff is made from a battery that looks like it came from a watch made in '75
Science Is Bad: Subverted. Although "Science has turned against us!" is a prominent line, the guy who says it is actually the totalitarian dictator who's really to blame for the whole mess. When 9 finds the Scientist's video message, he learns the Fabrication Machine is simply a neutral technology that was easily corruptible. That said, every other word out of 1's mouth is some condemnation of human science. And regardless of what set it off, the villain is still technological progress. There is also another subversion in that the stitchpunks themselves were created thanks to science.
The machines are based off mythological beasts. Makes it a lot easier to describe the Seamstress as a Medusa than all the bits and pieces that make it up.
When 7 kills the Cat Beast, she jumps on its back and rides it rodeo-style, before catapulting into the air and decapitating it as she falls down. This is exactly how Alice killed the Jabberwocky in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.
Or, um, how about Clotho?
A note about the voice actor of the scientist: yes, his name is Alan Oppenheimer, and it looks like an amazing coincidence from the way it is worded in the text there. But guess who his third cousin was?
Shrinking Violet: 5 seems to have certain characteristics of this at the beginning of the movie. Which of course only adds to his status as The Woobie.
Slouch of Villainy: 1 isn't an outright villain, but he does one of these at the end of his introduction.
The Smurfette Principle: 7 is the only female sackdoll of the group. And that's only obvious because she sounds female— sackdolls have no naughty bits. Justified; they all seem to stem from the Scientist's soul, so odds of his soul containing a lot of feminine qualities are very low.
Might be justified even without that. It's considered a pretty solid theory that everybody (or at least almost everybody), has psychological qualities of the opposite gender, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the individual.
Although it could be interpreted as forshadowing, because despite the 'happy' tone of the song, the lyrics talk about failed dreams and disappointing events. And they were disappointed
In fact, even the happy tone of the song is unintentional. It was meant to be a thoroughly sad song, but the actress sang it too convincingly, bursting into tears in the original takes, so it had to be changed.
Spared by the Adaptation: Everyone except 9 died in the original short. In the full-length movie, he, 7, 3 & 4 all make it out alive.
The Speechless: 3 and 4 never speak, using lights and film to communicate with each other and others respectively. Also, 9 at the beginning.
It's worth noting that 9 can't speak until about ten minutes into the movie. The original short, which had no dialogue at all, was also ten minutes long.
Stab the Salad: 9 first meets 5 when the latter lunges at him with a pair of scissors... to trim the thread he used to sew up 9's injured shoulder, but 9 didn't know that.
In one of the scenes, they communicate between themselves by flashing their broadcast-camera-eyes directly at each other.
Viral Marketing: Little bit. One of the most interesting ones was a random online-clip that showed Elijah Wood getting his soul sucked out while in the theater.
Waif Prophet: 6 gives off a general impression of being childlike, and is the shortest stitchpunk according to the heights in the scientist's facebook posts; he also doesn't seem to be entirely sane, given the obsessive talisman-drawing and the way he blurts out what his powers tell him without any attempt to explain what he's talking about.
Wall Full Of Crazy: 6 fills up a wall of the church attic with scribblings of the talisman. This is ostensibly his purpose, as all his fingers are fountain pen nibs.
World War One: The trailer seems to hint that the film takes place after the War. Whereas some of the technology seen in flashbacks during the movie proper (four-engined bombers, Molotov cocktails, 1930's-40's styled helmets) seems evocative of World War II. This can be explained by the fact that the film definitely depicts an Alternate History. If you look at the newspapers, you'll notice they were dated sometime in the 1930s. Of course, the setting and general aesthetic is consistent with this as well. The Nazi-like government. The old-style vinyl record phonograph and accompanying music collection. The walkers equipped with Vickers-like machine guns.
Keep in mind, the short film of 9 was released 4 years beforeLittle Big Planet. In fact, there are several curious similarities, like the enemies, the clothes, the zipper... In fact, Media Molecule started developing LBP a month after 9 was nominated at the Academy Awards.
You Fool!: Said by 1 to 9, after 9 accidentally awakens the Fabrication Machine.
He also says it to 5, when the latter is trying to stop him from setting fire to the factory before 9 and 7 can escape.