Lego Documentary Reveals The Company And Community Behind The World's Favorite Toy
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LEGO is a platform for creativity that meets the sculptural needs of young and old worldwide. This new documentary making the film festival circuit explains how the community is far more crucial to the modern company than is commonly realized.
Factoid: LEGO is the most profitable toy company in the world.
Lego is having a major cultural moment right now. It recently became the most profitable toy company in the world, the blockbuster The Lego Movie was released this winter, and it seems as though the bricks and minifigures are popping up everywhere: movie posters and album covers are being rendered in bricks by fans; the infamous Ellen Oscars selfie received not one but two Lego treatments; and block versions of nearly every relevant entertainment property exist, including, most recently, The Simpsons. That’s to say nothing of this travelogue of a tiny minifig photographer, which just might be one of the most endearing and artful fan tributes we’ve seen.
Beyond the Brick: A Lego Brickumentary, from award-winning documentarians Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson with narration by Jason Bateman, is the first company-endorsed film looking at the origins and the larger ecosystem that exists around the interlocking world of Lego.
The community saved LEGO:
“It seems like every time we chanced upon the ultimate expression of what this so-called toy is being used for we’d find something else,” adds Junge. “In many ways our challenge with this film was to know when to stop.”
It’s this broader context of the Lego universe that the film equates with the company’s recent dominance. With the construction toy experiencing such a high profile, it’s hard to recall that Lego was in ableak place in the late ’90s and early 2000s. “There’s a portion of the film that talks about how the community ultimately changed the Lego corporation,” says Davidson, citing Mindstorms--the company’s robotics initiative with MIT that was launched in 1999, which was improved by the community--as a pivotal moment for Lego.
“It took Lego a while to figure it out and embrace this community and the ideas coming from them,” adds Junge. “They readily admit part of what caused them to nearly hit dire straits was their own arrogance. It was interesting to see how it took them a while to realize that maybe they’re not the smartest people in the room.”
LEGOS nurture the basic human desire to build:
“What’s Lego has done for a lot of people is tap into something that’s been dormant for a while,” says Davidson, whose voice over the phone competes with the sound of the two directors rifling through bricks as they're building while they talk. “As humans we the desire to build but you get distracted by everyday things in life. I know a lot of parents that discovered this tool later in life. It’s not something that went away, it’s just something we haven’t made the time for. I think it’s fascinating that an adult could come back to a toy like this.”