Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Synopsis: Strangeness is afoot. Most people don't notice the hundreds of cryptic tiled messages about resurrecting the dead that have been appearing in city streets over the past three decades. But Justin Duerr does. For years, finding an answer to this long-standing urban mystery has been his obsession. He has been collecting clues that the tiler has embedded in the streets of major cities across the U.S. and South America. But as Justin starts piecing together key events of the past he finds a story that is more surreal than he imagined, and one that hits disturbingly close to home.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Jon Foy
Production: Argot Pictures
  1 win & 1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
86 min

They are mysterious markers

with bizarre messages.

Artists or pranksters

have been sticking these

plaques on roadways

and other places around

the globe for years now.

"Toynbee Idea

in Kubrick's 2001..."

... Resurrect Dead on

Planet Jupiter. "

I have no idea

what it means.

Maybe it's

a message from space.

The plaques were first

sighted in the early 1980s.

There are 130 known

plaques, most in the US.

Philadelphia, Baltimore...

New York, Washington D.C.,

Chicago, Saint Louis...

Plus, they have been

spotted in South America.

City officials we contacted

were not aware of

their existence.

It's anybody's guess what

the meaning really is,

or who's behind it.

So who is placing these

tiles all over Philadelphia,

and all over the world,

for that matter?

It's like a scene from

"The Twilight Zone."

I've never seen one.

Well, I have all these...

Toynbee tile photographs

and artifacts.

Here's one that

was in New York

on Fifth Avenue and West 34th

in front of

the Empire State Building.

This is from December of 1998.

Here's one from Maryland

and Meridian in Indianapolis.

Here's that D.C. one.

We don't have this one on

the website and it's in reverse.

It's in mirror writing.

These old New York ones

were so incredible.

You know, I always

had this idea, like,

someday maybe there could be

a museum

and I could get

each one of these photos

in a little frame or something.

The first time I noticed

a Toynbee Idea tile

in the street

was on South Street.

It was this tile,

like a floor tile or whatever,

embedded in the asphalt

in the crosswalk

that bears this message on it.

"Toynbee Idea

In Movie 2001

Resurrect Dead

on Planet Jupiter."

I started really thinking,

that's weird,

what's that all about?

Why was it there?

What did it mean,

who made it?

Me and some of my

friends lived in this squat

on Fifth and Bainbridge

at the time.

It was a chaotic squat

full of 17-year-old runaways

and, you know, people like that.

It just caught

my eye one day.

I started thinking about it

'cause I guess we were sitting

on that corner

and we were

looking at that tile.

And I said, "Hey, Vern,

isn't that weird?

"That there's

that thing in the street

that says, 'Resurrect the Dead

on Planet Jupiter'?"

A couple years later, I got

this job as a foot courier

for this company,

Kangaroo Couriers.

I began to notice more of these

cryptic street messages

all over the place...

you know, from

walking around the city

and looking down all the time,

delivering packages.

I would walk over the tiles

over and over

and over and over again.

So I'd think about them

every single day.

And, you know, I would

just constantly think,

like, "I wonder how

long they've been there?

I wonder what they mean?"

So I started following them when

I'd see them around downtown.

I would make sure

to take note of them

and I started to write down

where they were all at.

I had a little notebook

I would take around.

Around 1996, 97,

it became possible to go to

the Philadelphia Public Library

and get on the Internet.

So I thought,

"I can't wait.

"I'm gonna do an Internet

word search

on this Toynbee message."

So I actually

took off work the next day.

I called in sick to work

so that I could go to the

library as soon as it opened.

And I went to the library

as soon as it opened

and I ran up the steps.

"Toynbee Idea"

was the first thing

I ever typed into an Internet

search engine.

"Your search

returned zero results."

You've got to be kidding me,

there's nothing?

This term has

never been mentioned

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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