The Religion of the Lego Movie

Lego minifigure Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman) in the 3D computer animated adventure “The Lego Movie,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Lego System A/S. (Photo courtesy of © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Lego minifigure Vitruvius (voiced by Morgan Freeman) in the 3D computer animated adventure “The Lego Movie,” from Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Lego System A/S. (Photo courtesy of © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)

Legos got religion? Who knew?

“The Lego Movie,” well-reviewed and making money by the brickyard, builds its story upon religious and moral themes. They don’t all snap together securely, but that’s in keeping with the rest of the film.

Spoiler alert: I’ll give away nothing that you wouldn’t get from the reviews. There’s a late plot twist, however, that affects everything we thought we understood about the story. Anybody who reveals that twist, at least in the first few weeks, deserves to be extruded in molten plastic. I’ll tip as little as possible.

Right off the bat: It’s as good as the reviews say. The story takes elements from “The Matrix,” “Harry Potter,” “Kung Fu Panda,” “Lord of the Rings,” the good “Star Wars” movies, “Toy Story 2″ and other recent cultural touchstones and blends them into plot slurry. Which is not all that surprising for a modern kids’ movie.

But references to Aristophanes? Ibsen? Orwell? To an architect who died more than 2,000 years ago? I guarantee you did not see that coming.

You’ve likely read a summary of the story: An utterly unremarkable construction worker figure in a Lego city literally falls into a tale where he discovers the “Piece of Resistance,” a plastic doodad that is the only way to stop a dastardly villain (modeled on 1984′s “Big Brother”) from destroying the world. Our hero, who has never ever deviated from the “official instructions” for anything, has to discover what it means to be “the Special” and lead the battle.

In his quest, he gains allies: A warrior-woman named Wyldstyle; her boyfriend, Batman (yes, that Batman); a half-unicorn/half kitty mash-up named, duh, UniKitty; and others, including a wizard named Vitruvius.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio was an engineer and architect who wrote a 10-volume encyclopedia on architecture in the first century B.C. His work was so influential that Leonardo da Vinci used it 500 years later to help design his famous drawing of a man inside a circle, the Vitruvian Man.

This Vitruvius is one of the film’s “master builders,” figures able to effortlessly construct anything out of the Lego materials. “Master builder” may be a nod to Ibsen’s play “Master Builder,” about an architect who dies when he falls from one of his buildings. (Yeah, that’s dark.)

Go deeper? The hero of the tale, the anonymous construction guy, is named Emmet, or “truth” in Hebrew. I asked Lego director Philip Lord if this was coincidence.

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SOURCE:  
Religion News Service


  

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