The Cube Movies Explanation
The Cube series is highly regarded as a fantastical and complex franchise that bases its films around the intricacies of a mystery cube. The initial cube is a 6-sided room that offers small doors on all sides (leading to other cubes) with lethal booby traps awaiting in some of them. A pattern to “which” rooms had traps was never established, though we know that they were activated with either motion or sound. The films are set up with captives that awake into this new environment challenged with trying to figure a way out.
This article was designed with a focus on the Cube film series and to bring some clarity to the cube enigma. For research this entailed the viewing of all 3 films and whatever filmmaker information I could dig up in regards to uncovering the cube’s purpose. While there are clues that were incorporated “into” the scripts, it should be noted that keeping aspects of the Cube ambiguous was intended and deliberate. This of course becomes a frustration to viewers who seek resolution. This article is not intended to resolve “all”, but to bring clarity on the points made in the films.
My purpose for this article could be extracted from the previous reviews on all 3 films, however I felt it might be better to lay the facts out in a single article that “connects” the 3 movies.
Note: The following provides SPOILERS that should only be referred to “after” viewing the films. The facts are provided to bring clarity to the enigma of the series.
For starters “Cube (1997)”, was the first, “Cube 2:hypercube” was the 2nd entry with “Cube Zero” being the 3rd that actually acts as a prequel leading up to “Cube”. One could start with “Cube Zero”, but that would take all the fun out of it. The preferred viewing is as suggested.
To establish a foundation, it should be noted that each of the 3 films were directed by different directors. Vincenzo Natali was responsible for “Cube (1997)”, but passed when offered to direct the sequels stating that he wasn’t a fan of sequels. This is important as Natali’s initial concept was left as is in the film “Cube (1997)”. The follow-ups were “new” inclusions that were developed from the initial idea (All 3 films are quite different but still share the focal aspect of the Cube).
The character “Worth” was noted as saying in the “Cube (1997)”, that the cube was a “headless blunder,” with at one point, perhaps having a purpose, but the purpose having been long forgotten”. It was also stated as “operating under the illusion of a master plan”. His perspective was further commented by “There is no conspiracy. Nobody is in charge”.
In dialog he suggested “You keep everyone separated so the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”, which referred to the series of contractors who were hired to construct various parts of the whole.
In fact the creators of this cube were never mentioned. It was “assumed” to be a private builder or a government project. This was left unresolved, though clarified with the inductions of the films “Cube 2” and “Cube Zero”
These points “may” have been the intention of first director / writer Vincenzo Natali, if the film was left “as is”. The location, the purpose, and those in charge were left to an ambiguous plotline that was intended to stay unresolved. The 2 sequels that followed were designed to tell more the cube’s story developing it into an elaborate franchise. So in “initial” summary, what we saw was what we got.
So what was the first cube in “Cube (1997)”?
The cube was a three-dimensional puzzle much like a Rubik’s cube. It was made up of 14 foot square rooms enclosed inside an outer shell. Its total dimensions were cited as 434 feet square. An equation was made that if a cube was 26 rooms high by 26 rooms across by 26 rooms deep (leaving 35 feet between the rooms and outer shell to move within), it would total at 17,576 rooms. The rooms were lit with either red, amber, green, blue, or white.
Cube (1997) took on a mathematical tone with its solution resting on prime numbers to help point the way out. We learned in the first film that it required at least 1 mathematical mind held captive to solve the puzzle for the rest.
Cube (1997) was created on a low budget that used one complete cube and one partial (for camera angles). The room was lit differently as they entered a new cube to give the film the illusion of multiples.
The characters of Cube (1997) all held names that were taken from well known prisons. This was assumed to be a metaphor in the script for the idea of being trapped (or imprisoned).
Moving forward with the franchise………….
The 2 films that followed would not arrive immediately. “Cube 2: Hypercube” would debut in 2002 with Cube 3 titled “Cube Zero” arriving 2 years after that. 2 factors should be also noted, the writers were different on all 3 films, with “Cube 2: Hypercube” being directed by Andrzej Sekula and “Cube Zero” being directed by Ernie Barbarash.
It is fair to say that the intention, direction, and purpose would evolve and change by the time we reached the 3rd film. “Cube Zero” as a 3rd entry was created to be a prequel to “Cube 1997” telling the story from an inside perspective. “Cube 2: Hypercube” wasn’t followed by a sequel that picks up where it left off. The ending would prove to be frustrating and incomplete, but I’ve helped o fill in some of the gaps in this article.
If you’ve viewed all 3 films, you will have much more clarity than any single one on its own. Each is a different film with its basis being centered on the same construct. Since time has passed between the film productions, the sets and the technology used have been upgraded to bring in more complex scenarios. For instance in “Cube (1997)” we are confined to a extremely large construct that combines what “seems” like miles of rooms with an interchangeable one that is constantly in motion. The structure of “Cube (1997)” is an all mechanical architecture located in an unknown source. The powers behind it are quite ambiguous and never really revealed. We do gain clues thru discussion about the construction of this massive structure, but like all great companies, its a sum of parts that never connect as a whole (as mentioned prior).
The cube project is has been tested many times for research. In “Cube 2: Hypercube”, we learn that Kate Filmore is one of the only operatives to have survived (with the previous obviously being terminated within the cube’s time-based puzzle).
I do comment a bit on this more in the “Cube 2: Hypercube” review.
So let’s break things down to where we are at:
(This is important as some of the proposed perspectives tend to change by the time you get to “Cube Zero”)
Cube 1 is an elaborate mechanical construct, cube 2 is a quantum experiment that has a tesseract slowing closing in on itself. How the captives were placed inside this device isn’t mentioned (at this time), but we do learn that each captive was drugged and kidnapped from various parts of the world.
They were all chosen as having abilities that “could” collectively figure a solution on how to get out. (aka the fair chance) They were also hinted at all having various roles in the planning, construction, or creation of the cube. But with each, none seems to have fully known how all the parts would fit together. Some of the captives are more versed in the theory realities of it while others were related in simple architectural engineering tasks.
We now learn that:
The cube project was originated by a weapons company called Izon. At some point, it is suggested that it becomes a government owned operation. (which is typical anyways of these weapon testing projects) The keyword to remember is “weapons”, since in “Cube Zero” we learn that the cube environment is used for this, but the cube itself is only a puzzle-prison of sorts.
In “Cube (1997)”, the construct featured “death rooms”, that triggered booby traps. The traps varied and were designed to weed out those worthy of figuring them out.
In “Cube 2: Hypercube”, the death traps were abandoned in place of the complexities of a quantum-based tesseract. So the dangers would revolve around the physics changing and the occasional execution motion-based configuration shape that could shred its victims.
Oh ya…..then there is the threat of dealing with the complexities of time warping. This aspect was demonstrated when captives would later return aged or in an alternate reality starved and deteriorated from old age. The clues for this threat pointed to the idea that the group should never stop moving (or possibly face time acceleration). As when the 2 lovers “engage in intercourse” over a short period, they also wind up aged corpses suggesting that time moved by very quickly for them (or slower for the others depending on the perspective).
How is this possible?
a room with a slow time rate would of course offset the instantaneous difference from those that were faster
Was the series purposely ambiguous? Of course, in fact the original ending of Cube 2, left the ending unanswered which was better resolved (but not entirely) in the included alternate ending (this is explained in the “”Cube 2: Hypercube” review). The contemplation of 2 endings proves that the filmmakers “did” have a clear idea of what and where it was all going, but decided to keep things unresolved to create more tension.
In the alternate ending we hear the words “Phase 2 complete” which gives us an idea of what stage we are at. Though with no follow up film from this point to forward, the “next phase” question goes unanswered.
We also learn from the alternative ending that Izon has been sending in operatives for various testing reasons (which most have not survived). Due to the nature of the cube, and the expression on Kate’s face before being shot, they (Kate) are assuming termination regardless of success.
“Cube 2: Hypercube” is a time based puzzle that closes in on itself (implodes) based on a quantum (parallel) reality. Alex Trusk is the hacker genius who first designed it for Izon thinking it was only to be used for a game and not in reality. The cube’s purpose in this case was to test teleportation. The puzzle ends on the exact time of 6:06:59 of which Kate jumps into. To further play with your mind, we are told that the whole experience lasted only 6 minutes and 59 seconds, which was obviously warped in quantum physics terms.
“Cube Zero”, the 3rd entry into the franchise, BUT centered on a period leading up to the first film works much like a band aid to the series. Even with more reveals at its disposal, it still leaves behind holes, unanswered questions and some leftover enigmas. I tried to collect the facts and information under one article
It’s probably best to layout what new information we learn in a listing of new conclusions:
– the organization gets all its captives with the inclusion of a consent form
(which we assume is doctored under drug injection)
It is also worth noting that we assume some of the prisoners to be “prisoners on death row” who have consented to try their luck in the cube.
– the organization has no intention of letting any of its captives free without execution despite giving them hope and a mathematical challenge.
(this is demonstrated when one does make it to the final cube and is executed (we have to assume that if they answered yes, they probably would die per another fate, hence stating disbelief in God triggers a flamethrower execution. My guess is that if they chose “Yes” that it would end in a light-driven execution)
We could also jump back to the original Cube film, where 1 survivor makes it out (assuming). Though if you remember correctly it was a brightly lit doorway (which is repeated in “Cube Zero”). We find in “Cube Zero”, that this is in fact just another room, hence the final execution room
– a file is kept on every captive, who is also recorded per hidden cameras
– the organization kidnaps those who pose a political threat
– the organization kidnaps those who get too close or are consented in some way
(an ex-employee, ex-contractor…so on)
– The employees are also cautioned and left in the dark on many things. (left hand separated from the right hand concept)
– Those who pry too much are placed in the cube (thus deemed dispensable)
– the location is assumed to be Earth rooted on an island or remote location
– the location of the “cube” is underground
– the cube has been tested, recorded, and analyzed for some time, but is also under future reconstruction
– The soldiers who work for the organization are implanted with a mind control devices, that can be deactivated (per the soldier prisoner who was placed in the cube without “green eyes”)
– those who know “too” much are lobotomized and placed back into the cube
(we can make the connection that “Kazan” from “Cube (1997)” was also an ex-employee who was lobotomized and placed in the cube)
– We don’t know who is leading the organization, but assume the highest in political and military status
(thus a former General was placed inside)
– higher rank employees are re engineered with electronic devices implanted in them
(per an eye or hand device inclusion)
– As per the dialog “I’ve even heard there are other facilities” – suggests other constructs, but not confirmed
(this might explain the difference in appearances)
Well, hopefully this personal study paints a clearer picture between the films and the clues left for us like a bread trail that needed to be followed. Others who read this may find a few “connect the dots” themselves which I encourage you to share. One thing was clear to me. The minds behind all 3 had their work cut out for them keeping a solidarity from one film into the next. Then again, they were also inventing points as they wrote next inclusions taking the original into new realms.
Also make sure and check out the film reviews of all 3 Cube Movies:
The Cube Movies Explained – Analysis and Meaning of the Cube movies franchise