FLATLAND – Kazimir Boyle

Original Review by Alan Rogers

Flatland: The Movie is a short animated film (not to be confused with the feature-length animated film Flatland: The Film that was released the same year) and is loosely based on the satirical novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions. Written in 1884 by English schoolteacher Edwin A. Abbott, the original story was a commentary on the social hierarchy of Victorian Britain. In the 2007 film, Flatland is a world that only has two dimensions and is populated by various polygon-shaped characters. A mysterious visitor from Spaceland sets off a series of events where the main characters must come to terms with a third dimension and must also face opposition from the ruling Circles who have held sway in Flatland for numerous years. American-born composer Kazimir (Kaz) Boyle, who has composed additional music for films such as Spanglsh, The Mars Underground and The Tudors and collaborated with many fellow composers such as Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard and Trevor Morris, uses his experience in electronic music production to compose an expressive synth-based score for this 35-minute film.

Boyle composes several themes that represents the various factions of the film that crop up repeatedly throughout the score. The first theme, first heard in the “Main Titles” as a delicate phrase with child-like qualities, appears to represent the film’s hero, the inquisitive child Hex. It reappears in various forms whenever she has an important role to play. For example, a dramatic version is heard in “Race To The Rescue” when Hex enters the mysterious Area 33H. There’s also a light, airy and whimsical theme full of pizzicato and staccato figures that represents the day-to-day bustle of Flatland itself (“Morning In Flatland”). And, for the evil authority figures of the ruling Circles there’s a slow and lumbering march-like theme that’s frequently played on low register instruments (brass, strings, etc). Each theme adds to these (literally) two-dimensional characters. 

What’s particularly interesting about Boyle’s score is how he uses the music to suggest the various dimensions in the story. The music featured in the early cues sounds quite “linear”: that’s not a negative statement but is highlighting that there is melody but there isn’t much in the way of swelling crescendos, decrescendos or tecnhiques such as glissandi. It’s all very level sounding. This is even the case when Hex’s grandfather is snatched away by the mysterious visitor from Spaceland who takes him to various worlds such as Pointland and Lineland (“Other Worlds”): the music is suggestive of a limited dimensionality. It’s not until they arrive in Spaceland that the music suddenly expands. “Spaceland” features layered female voices that have a quality that soars – get it, three dimensions! As the cue progresses, strings appear and the music rises in pitch. Female voices are briefly heard in an earlier cue when Hex’s grandfather gives her a geometry lesson where he explains how arithmetic powers can be translated to geometric dimensions. As Hex speculates on a third dimension we hear a solo female voice for a moment, hinting at this third dimension (“A Math Lesson”). And as the film ends and we see that there is, in fact, a forth dimension the score reaches it’s greatest crescendo (“The Trial / The 4th Dimension”).

Flatland is an enjoyable score, though the synth origins of the music can be a bit distracting from a complete enjoyment of the score (this is more a reflection of my own preferences rather than any failing in the music). And as I have mentioned, what’s particularly interesting is how Boyle reflects the multi-dimensional aspects of the story in the score. Kazimir Boyle’s magical score for Flatland is available as both a CD and as a digital download from a variety of online stores.

Audio samples can be found HERE and then click on arrow next to running time for samples of entire album or individual tracks.

Rating: **½

  1. Main Titles (1:36)
  2. Morning In Flatland (2:45)
  3. Squaricles (1:18)
  4. Pantocyclus (1:54)
  5. A Math Lesson (2:36)
  6. A Gift For Hex (1:05)
  7. Other Worlds (3:14)
  8. Spherius (2:03)
  9. Spaceland (3:13)
  10. Rumor and Myth (1:20)
  11. Circle Council (0:46)
  12. Area 33-H (0:34)
  13. Race To The Rescue (2:46)
  14. Hex Learns The Truth (2:04)
  15. The Trial / The 4th Dimension (4:56)
  16. End Titles (2:10)

Running Time: 34:27

Flash Music (2007)


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