Resurrect Dead : The Mystery of the Toynbee tiles is an unusually compelling documentary about a young artist who becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of odd handmade tiles that began appearing randomly on streets and highways across America in the early 1980s. The tiles are mostly identical, expressing incoherent ideas about life after death on the planet Jupiter.
The artist, Justin Duerr, seeking the identity of the strange tile-maker, is himself a rare bird who left school at 16 rather than conform to his art teacher’s dream for his success. Justin’s burning desire to unravel the mystery brings him into contact with two other like-minded young internet geeks. Their methodical detective work and camaraderie are merely one aspect of this film that raises one’s hope for humanity.
The tiles and their seemingly desperate message are an arresting subject. The approach taken by filmmaker John Foy shapes a haunting story of curiosity and idealism, guerrilla art and political paranoia, and a trail of clues that lead to a well-protected secret. The yearning to understand comes smack against the yearning to be left alone.
A poignant film with a suitably dark score, it is the perfect execution of its whimsical, intensely philosophical subject matter. You feel the wonder of art itself, and the joy of pursuing a project with absolute commitment.