Since The LEGO Movie re-built popular media interest in the legendary construction toy earlier this year, the notoriously Hollywood-shy Danish toy manufacturer has become a little more open to the approaches of filmmakers. Apart from partnering with The Simpsons for their 550th episode, Variety reports that The LEGO Group have officially backed a documentary – Beyond The Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary – narrated by Jason Bateman.
The film is co-directed by Academy-Award winner Daniel Junge (Saving Face) and Academy-Award nominee Kief Davidson (Open Heart). It aims to take an in-depth look at the cultural impact of the LEGO brick by exploring themes such as its use in art installations, its use in therapy, and the world of ‘AFOLs’ (Adult Fans Of LEGO). There is certainly plenty of material for them to draw upon from around the world, as LEGO recently announced that – since their launch in 1949 – over 560 billion LEGO parts have been produced. It can only be estimated how many of those pieces have been responsible for midnight injuries to bare feet, however.
This project is intriguing because of the involvement of The LEGO Group themselves. As a globally dominant corporation that famously keeps tight control of its image, we would expect any ‘officially approved’ documentary to be of the ‘glorified puff-piece’ variety. However, the filmmakers here are not known for approaching their subjects light-heartedly. Junge’s Saving Face investigates the prevalence and consequences of acid attacks in Pakistan, while Davidson’s Open Heart follows eight Rwandan children to Sudan for life-saving open-heart surgery.
Indeed, far from sounding like a feature-length advertisement, this project sounds like a fascinating insight into the wide variety of ways in which these little interlocking plastic bricks have quietly permeated society, becoming the foundation of imaginative play for generations of people worldwide. Having the high-profile Jason Bateman in the narrator’s seat also serves to open up this documentary to a wider audience – in much the same way that his involvement alongside Will Arnett in the 2012 Morgan Spurlock documentary Mansome did.
While chances are slim that Beyond The Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary will find an audience comparable in size to that of The Lego Movie, it is certainly an intriguing enough prospect to look out for, once it has premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 20 2014.