They Were 11
Review by David Bingham:
This film is available either Subtitled or Dubbed. I'm reviewing the Dubbed version.
This movie is set in the far future where mankind has spread to the stars, not only establishing its own colonies but meeting a several other races. In order to deal with the vast need for leadership, the Cosmo Acadamy was established to train the leaders of the future. The Acadamy is enormously selective, only accepting one in every 10,000 applicants, and graduation virtually guarentees a successful career of the candidates choice.
The main character is Tadatos Lane, a young man from a small agricultural colony who applied at the advice of this mentor, the Elder of his village. After passing all the initial tests (we can assume these exaustively cover academic and possibly even physical accomplishments) he is ushered into the final enterance exam.
The exam is basically a test of their real life survival abilities. Ten students are placed on an old ship orbiting an unknown planet and told that they must survive for 53 days. They can opt out of the test at any time, but other than that they have no contact with the outside world and must rely on their skills and the materials at hand. The proctors repeat several times that they pass or fail as a group, not individuals. No sooner do they enter the airlock than they discover that there are 11 people in their group, and no one can tell who the extra person is. Even Tadatos's minor telepathic ability cannot determine who is number eleven.
The exam is rigorous. Within minutes upon entering the ship, bombs begin exploding. After defusing the bombs, other problems crop up: an accident during repairs critically injures one of the crew, requiring emergency surgery. Further, the bombs have caused the orbit of the craft to swing dangerously close to the sun, and the increased heat brings not just discomfort but the "Del Red Spotted Fever," a deadly virus. Ultimately, the greatest test is seeing if the crew can overcome its mutual suspicion long enough to save themselves before tension turns to violence. Tados must try to decipher the conflicting personalities of the crew, the many layers of peril facing them all, his mysterious connection to the ship, and a truly bizarre romantic interest.
I'm deliberately not reporting on much of the plot or the characters. This is in many ways a classic "who dunnit," and most of the pleasure of this movie is in discovering everyone's secrets, most especially the identity of the mysterious "number 11." The movie is quite involved with a complex, but not overly confusing, plot and surprisingly well developed characters. The pace is well chosen, frenetic when necessary and yet quite thoughful when appropriate. My only concern was a few blatant translation errors. Two characters are refered to as "Hermaphodites" because they have not become either sex yet. The proper term is "Androgonite." Similarly, one of the characters calls himself a "cyborg," despite having no metal parts whatsoever. Other than that, "They Were 11" is a very solid film with consistantly clean and fluid animation. Even the voices are well chosen for the parts, and the dubbing is very high quality.
A facinating subject worth discussing is the very Japanese idea that the school you attend directly affects the success of your career. In the beginning Tadatos makes it very clear that graduating from the Cosmo Acadamy guarentees the graduate a position of importance in society. This is an accepted philosophy in Japan, but is very different than our American ideas.
Parent's Guide Rating:
yellow (parental guidance advised)
Profanity: If there was any, I missed it. I doubt there is.
Sex/Nudity: No sex at all. The nudity is limited to one full shot from behind in the shower, and bare breasts on a carving. Also, one of the characters (Frol) claims to be male, despite looking quite female. When several other crewmembers spot her/him in the shower, they go into shock, noticing that whatever Frol is, it's not male. While no mention is made of precisely what they *didn't* see, this may raise questions in some perceptive kids.
Violence: Very limited. One or two explosions, and few fistfights, and some gunfire, but no blood at all. I suppose some people would consider the food fight violence, but that's their problem.
Follow-up by Marianne G Petrino-Schaad:
I just finished watching a subbed version of this movie, They Were 11. It is a great flick for teens, but in the subbed version Frol curses like a stormtrooper. Be aware that subs and dubs can differ in this respect.
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