Why Documentary Calls LEGO the World's 'Most Important Toy'
There’s a reason why Barbie, G.I. Joe or Mr. Potato Head weren’t on acclaimed directors Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson radar for their latest documentary, "Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary."
“Not to disparage those brands, but they don’t give you the same kind of experience that LEGO does,” Junge tells Made in Hollywood. “It’s about creativity, engineering—it’s about thinking outside the box. Those are the reasons that LEGO has had the lasting effect that it has. It’s arguably the most important and biggest toy in the world right now.”
Truly a worldwide phenomenon, LEGO is sold in more than 140 countries, and last year, the toymakers reached 760 billion pieces since launching in 1934 in Denmark.
Tackling the subject of the iconic toymaker, was anything but child's play for Junge, who was honored with the 2012 Best Documentary (Short Subject) Oscar for "Saving Face" and Richardson, who earned a 2013 Oscar nomination for "Open Heart."
The directors say they originated the documentary as an inside look at LEGO fan conventions, but when they discovered the scope of the community—the LEGO Club has 5 million members around the world—they knew they had to create a more cursory survey of the brand and its following.
“We knew this community existed out there but we didn’t know to what extent,” Junge explains. “It wasn’t until we were shooting our first convention that we realized the enormity of this community around a so-called toy.”
What they discovered was that LEGO is being used for very serious applications, including therapy, engineering and city planning. It's not just for living room clutter.
LEGO, named by founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen from the first two letters of the Danish words “LEG GODT,” meaning, “play well,” fulfills its promise. Along with chronicling the journeys of super fans hoping to win prizes for their creations entered at a LEGO convention competition, the “Brickumentary” explores how the toy has helped children with autism to communicate and socialize.
“There aren’t many toys that you can look at and say, this is really changing people’s lives for the better,” Richardson says. “It’s very difficult for autistic kids to focus and that’s one thing that LEGO does for them. You can’t say that about any toy—that it will give you passion for engineering or math.”
"Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary" receives its nationwide theatrical release on Friday. Watch the trailer below.