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Film / Life Times Nine

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Life Times Nine is a 1973 short film (15 minutes) directed by...take a deep breath...Paul Shapiro, Melissa Franklin, Robi Blumenstein, Jordon Hale, Ricky Clark, Celia Merkur, Kimmie Jensen, Andy File, and Marilyn Becker.

A group called Insight Productions developed a project in cooperation with a Toronto high school. Nine kids, ages 11 to 16, were chosen to be directors of micro-short film segments, each having to do with the theme of life. The idea was that each film would be done in the style of a commercial advertising "life" as a product. Each child wrote their own script and exercised creative control, although they were helped in the actual production of the film by grownups. The result is a collection of very different micro-shorts: a boy makes a drawing of a dove which becomes a real dove, a fake commercial has a man trying to sell a tank, a dead guy who rises out of his grave tries to talk his cemetery buddy into rising from the dead with him, and more.


One of the kids, Paul Shapiro, went on to a long career as a director in television.


  • Anthology Film: One of the shortest ever, as a bunch of kids made nine different micro-short films about the beauty of life.
  • Art Initiates Life: The first micro-short has a boy drawing a dove on a sheet of paper. The dove promptly comes to life and flies away after the boy chucks it out the window.
  • Art Shift: Most of the shorts are live-action but one is a cartoon with chess pieces on a chess board.
  • Back from the Dead: A dead guy comes back to life in a cemetery and tries to get his buddy to rise from the grave as well. The second dead guy resists various temptations (eating a fine meal, playing golf, dancing) but when the first guy suggests hanging out with two pretty girls they know, the second guy happily rises.
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  • Blood Brothers: The segment of still pictures includes what appears to be a "blood brothers" ritual. There's a picture of two index fingers, each with a drop of blood, followed by a picture of the two fingertips touching.
  • Chess Motif: The animated segment has the white pieces in a chess game talking about how life is boring and predictable. But when they're taken off the board, they talk wistfully about how much they miss playing in the game. The parallel with death is made more obvious in the end when all the pieces are put away in a coffin-shaped box.
  • Cock-a-Doodle Dawn: One segment is a series of children's drawings about life, while kids in voiceover talk about life's meaning. It ends with a drawing of a rising sun accompanied by a crowing rooster.
  • Filthy Fun: One segment has some kids splashing around in mud puddles, flinging mud at each other, getting filthy and having fun. Both a policeman and a nun who pass by this scene express disapproval, only to wind up getting dirty in the mud and having fun themselves.
  • Happily Married: One short consists of an elderly couple, walking together arm in arm, and sitting together on a park bench, apparently enjoying themselves.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: One segment is a series of stills of kids and young people playing and having fun. The camera sometimes pans around photos Ken Burns-style.
  • Limited Animation: As might be expected with a very low-budget production, the animated sequence with the chess pieces consists mostly of the pieces' mouths moving.
  • Parody Commercial: A fake commercial has a guy selling an army tank like a car, bragging about its gas mileage and armaments.
  • Stock Footage: The fake commercial with the guy trying to sell the tank is interspersed with stock footage showing the horrors of war—bombs going off, ships sinking, panicked civilians in flight.

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