Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles Movie Review: An Intriguing Documentary about a Decades-Long Mystery

I love documentaries! Or should I say I love good documentaries. However, the more I watch, I feel like the harder they have become to find. Often times, I will start one and end up stopping it a little way in because of things like terrible pacing or poor organization. So last week when I was looking around Netflix I happened upon Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. After reading the summary, the hubby and I decided to give it a try and we are both so glad we did.

Jon Foy directs this documentary that is beautifully put together and engaging from the start. It begins with the story of Toynbee enthusiast Justin Duerr, an artist and musician living in Pennsylvania. Justin began seeing the Toynbee Tiles in the early ’90s. The message on each tile was essentially the same:





Each tile looked the same and was made out of the same material. The only difference was that some tiles said “Movie 2001” and others read “Kubrick’s 2001” and each tile usually had a rambling side text next to the main message. These tiles were found in busy streets in Philadelphia, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Missouri, and a few in South America.

Duerr became fascinated by the tiles and began to document them to try and solve the mystery of the origin of the tiles. As we meet him in this doc, his involvement is already over a decade old. It is the thing that consumes him and eventually leads him to Toynbee enthusiasts Colin Smith and Steve Weinik. The three begin to pool their resources and clues that take them on the journey to discover more than they ever thought possible about the tiles.

Foy uses beautiful artwork throughout the film and well-placed music to draw you in and keep you watching until the very end. And it’s not only the mystery of the Toynbee tiles that keeps you engaged; it is also the parallels of the tiler and Justin Duerr that also helps make this story.

And after watching Resurrect Dead, I’m fascinated by these tiles! I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for them the next time I’m on the East Coast.

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Darcy Staniforth

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