I first heard about the Toynbee Tiles a few years ago, and it was exactly what I love in this sort of story. A tangible thing: tiles places in busy streets; a cryptic purpose: the words “TOYNBEE IDEA IN MOVIE 2001 RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPITER”; and an enduring mystery: despite these tiles being placed in populated areas for decades, no one had any idea who was doing it or even how. It was something I checked in on every now and then, but didn’t follow up on. Not long ago I heard that there was a documentary on the subject that was supposed to be the best analysis of the mystery and decided to check it out.
Normally I watch these things on my other monitor while I’m working and that’s how I started this one off. But, thirty minutes later, I stopped it because I was pretty sure Becky would want to see it too. I found it absolutely captivating.
It helps that the main person we focus on, Justin Duerr, in an intelligent and personable guy. He starts out going at the mystery like an explorer, hacking away at the leaves and tall grass to see what’s behind them, but it seems as though as they zero in on a suspect, the person behind the tiles becomes less abstract to him, and he wants to hear him out. The idea being proposed is bizarre, and there’s more than enough evidence that the person involved has some mental issues, but Justin can’t help but empathize with the tiler. How must it be, to think you have this great secret, but you can’t get it out, and so you go through an innovative and expansive method of spreading the word. And how must it be if all you want is to get this idea to the public, yet you’re terrified of facing them?
Things get bizarre. They get creepy. They get paranoid. There are twists along the way, but like all great mysteries, the pieces are all there, it just needed someone to put them all together. And although the ending leaves a little bit in the air, it’s quite satisfying.
Resurrect Dead is a great documentary that I highly recommend. Check it out!
Now if someone will make a movie about the May Day Mystery!