Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Posted on July 17, 2013


If you are not familiar (and I understand that most people don’t collect weird bits of urban folklore the way I do), the Toynbee tiles have been appearing on city streets in the US and South America for about thirty years. They are made of linoleum and asphalt crack-filling compound. You can read more about them here.

This movie is a documentary about a group of obsessed men who search for the creator of the tiles, their meaning, and how they are placed.



Initially compelling, and then it loses its way.


When the documentary is explaining what the tiles are, who the searchers are, and why they are so interested, it is gripping viewing.

Filmmaker John Foy does not flinch away from the foibles of the characters, or the cost of their obsession.

Resurrect Dead The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles (2011) LiMiTED DVDRip 350MB

The challenge (and it is one) is how to present a mystery that has no resolution.

There are multiple possibilities for who the creator of the tiles might be.

There seems to be a pretty good explanation for how the tiles get placed without anyone noticing (a hole cut in a car floor, and a tar paper covering that passing cars eventually wear away). There is no confirmation.

There is not, yet, an explanation for what the messages mean.

So, as it must, the movie slows down, wanders a bit, and then peters out.


I am sure that there are some documentary filmmakers who have figured out ways around the fact that reality seldom has a 3-act rollercoaster structure with a solid resolution. Resurrect Dead is not a bad documentary because John Foy hasn’t. You should manage your expectations, though.

I enjoyed learning more about the mystery and the hunt for answers.

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Posted in: Movies