A nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Oskar Schell: If the sun were to explode, you wouldn't even know about it for 8 minutes because thats how long it takes for light to travel to us.
Oskar Schell: For eight minutes the world would still be bright and it would still feel warm.
Oskar Schell: It was a year since my dad died and I could feel my eight minutes with him... were running out.
Thomas Schell: If things were easy to find, they wouldn't be worth finding.
Oskar Schell: I had to tell someone. I couldn't keep it a secret anymore.
Oskar Schell: Can I tell you my story?
The Renter: [the renter shows his hand that says 'yes' on it]
Oskar Schell: My father died at 9-11. After he died I wouldn't go into his room for a year because it was too hard and it made me want to cry. But one day, I put on heavy boots and went in his room anyway. I miss doing taekwondo with him because it always made me laugh. When I went into his closet, where his clothes and stuff were, I reached up to get his old camera. It spun around and dropped about a hundred stairs, and I broke a blue vase! Inside was a key in an envelope with black written on it and I knew that dad left something somewhere for me that the key opened and I had to find. So I take it to Walt, the locksmith. I give it to Stan, the doorman, who tells me keys can open anything. He gave me the phone book for all the five boroughs. I count there are 472 people with the last name black. There are 216 addresses. Some of the blacks live together, obviously. I calculated that if I go to 2 every Saturday plus holidays, minus my hamlet school plays, my minerals, coins, and comic convention, it's going to take me 3 years to go through all of them. But that's what I'm going to do! Go to every single person named black and find out what the key fits and see what dad needed me to find. I made the very best possible plan but using the last four digits of each phone number, I divide the people by zones. I had to tell my mother another lie, because she wouldn't understand how I need to go out and find what the key fits and help me make sense of things that don't even make sense like him being killed in the building by people that didn't even know him at all! And I see some people who don't speak English, who are hiding, one black said that she spoke to God. If she spoke to god how come she didn't tell him not to kill her son or not to let people fly planes into buildings and maybe she spoke to a different god than them! And I met a man who was a woman who a man who was a woman all at the same time and he didn't want to get hurt because he/she was scared that she/he was so different. And I still wonder if she/he ever beat up himself, but what does it matter?
Thomas Schell: What would this place be if everyone had the same haircut?
Oskar Schell: And I see Mr. Black who hasn't heard a sound in 24 years which I can understand because I miss dad's voice that much. Like when he would say, "are you up yet?" or...
Thomas Schell: Let's go do something.
Oskar Schell: And I see the twin brothers who paint together and there's a shed that has to be clue, but it's just a shed! Another black drew the same drawing of the same person over and over and over again! Forest black, the doorman, was a school teacher in Russia but now says his brain is dying! Seamus black who has a coin collection, but doesn't have enough money to eat everyday! You see olive black was a gate guard but didn't have the key to it which makes him feel like he's looking at a brick wall. And I feel like I'm looking at a brick wall because I tried the key in 148 different places, but the key didn't fit. And open anything it hasn't that dad needed me to find so I know that without him everything is going to be alright.
Thomas Schell: Let's leave it there then.
Oskar Schell: And I still feel scared every time I go into a strange place. I'm so scared I have to hold myself around my waist or I think I'll just break all apart! But I never forget what I heard him tell mom about the sixth borough. That if things were easy to find...
Thomas Schell: ...they wouldn't be worth finding.
Oskar Schell: And I'm so scared every time I leave home. Every time I hear a door open. And I don't know a single thing that I didn't know when I started! It's these times I miss my dad more than ever even if this whole thing is to stop missing him at all! It hurts too much. Sometimes I'm afraid I'll do something very bad.
[first lines]
Oskar Schell: There are more people alive now than have died in all of human history, but the number of dead people is increasing. One day, there isn't going to be any room to bury anyone anymore. So, what about skyscrapers for dead people, that are built down. They could be underneath the skyscrapers for living people, that are built up. We could bury people 100 floors down. And a whole dead world could be underneath the living one.
Oskar Schell: I found something from every decade.
[Oskar puts a rock on the table]
Thomas Schell: Hahaha! You rock.
Oskar Schell: It's just a box! An empty box!
Linda Schell: I know it's an empty box! I know this. But I did it for me, and I did it for you so we can at least try and say goodbye to him. Because he's gone, Oskar, he's gone and he's not coming back. Never. I don't know why a man flew a plane into a building. I don't know why my husband is dead. But no matter how hard you try, Oskar, it's never gonna make sense because it doesn't. It doesn't... make... sense!
Oskar Schell: Fukozowa you! You don't know anything!
[last lines]
Thomas Schell: Congratulations, Oskar. With unbelievable bravery and wisdom far beyond your years, you have proven both the existence of the sixth borough and your own excellence. Where ever they are now, the people of the sixth borough celebrate you. And so do I. Now, it's time to go home.
Oskar Schell: I wish it were you.
Oskar Schell: I wish it were you in the building instead of him.
Linda Schell: [very softly] So do I.
Oskar Schell: [pause] I didn't really mean that.
Linda Schell: [sadly, in a whisper] Yes you did.
Linda Schell: I miss his voice. I miss his voice telling me he loves me.
Oskar Schell: Me too.
Linda Schell: I went into your room and I tried to think like you did. I wanted to understand.
Oskar Schell: You were snooping on me?
Linda Schell: I was searching for you.
Oskar Schell: Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake!
Linda Schell: Hey! Yeah I've been trying to reach you! I'm on my way home! I'm coming home! Thomas can you hear me?
Thomas Schell: Yes! I can hear you!
Linda Schell: This is unbelievable! Are you watching this?
Thomas Schell: Listen to me! Other people want to use the phone so I don't have to much time!
Linda Schell: Listen to me I'm going to be home in about 20 minutes!
Thomas Schell: No! You listen to me! I'm in the World Trade Center!
Linda Schell: What do you mean you're in the World Trade Center?
Thomas Schell: I had a meeting! But it's going to be okay! They are telling us to stay where we are. We broke a window to let in some air.
Linda Schell: Where are you?
Thomas Schell: I'm on the 105th floor! They are about 50 of us up here.
Linda Schell: You listen to me, you come home right now!
Thomas Schell: It's going to be fine, you're going to be fine. Where is Oscar?
Linda Schell: Oscar is on his way home, but you listen to me! You come home right now!
Thomas Schell: I will call and I will tell him!
Linda Schell: Tell him what?
Thomas Schell: I will tell him what's happening. We were told to wait where we are! Firemen are on their way, and that we are all fine!
Linda Schell: Thomas?
Thomas Schell: That's what we are going to do!
Linda Schell: Thomas?
Thomas Schell: Okay?
Linda Schell: No it's not okay! Thomas you need to listen to me!
Thomas Schell: Yeah!
Linda Schell: You need to find a stairwell! Do you hear me? Find the stairs and you come home!
Thomas Schell: Honey! I got to go! Other people need to use the phone! I'm gonna be fine, you're gonna be fine! You listen to me! You made my life better and I want you to know that absolutely love you. I'm going to call you back in a few minutes.
Linda Schell: No! Stop saying that! Just find the stairs! Don't stop talking to me! Just stay talking to me! Please just stay talking to me!
[Phone call ends]
Oskar Schell: Doesn't anybody know that there isn't anybody in the coffin? We should have filled it with his shoes or something. It's like a pretend funeral, for a goldfish or something.
Oskar's Grandmother: This is just what it is, Oskar.
Oskar Schell: It doesn't make sense.
Linda Schell: Why do you find it so hard to talk to me?
Oskar Schell: In case you haven't noticed, half the time you're asleep.
Oskar Schell: And the other half of the time, you forget the first half. You're what they call in the law "in absentia": an absent parent.
Linda Schell: That was mean.
Oskar Schell: Which part?
Oskar Schell: Why do you want to come in?
Linda Schell: To tell you that I love you.
Oskar Schell: I started with a simple problem... a key with no lock... and I designed a system I thought fit the problem. I broke everything down in the smallest parts... and tried to think of each person as a number... in a gigantic equation.
[next monologue]
Oskar Schell: But it wasn't working... because people aren't like numbers. They're more like letters... and those letters want to become stories... and dad said that stories need to be shared.
[next monologue]
Oskar Schell: I had anticipated a six minute visit with each person named "Black"... but they were never just six minutes. Everyone took more time than I had planned for... to try and comfort me and make me feel better about my dad... and to tell me their stories. But I didn't want to feel better and I didn't want friends... I just wanted the lock. I wasn't getting any closer to my dad... I was losing him.
Oskar Schell: Dad told me, he said: I really love your mother, she's such a good girl.
Oskar Schell: [shouting] What if I die tomorrow?
Linda Schell: You're not going to die tomorrow.
Oskar Schell: Dad didn't think he was gonna die tomorrow either.
Linda Schell: It's not gonna happen to you.
Oskar Schell: How do you know what's going to happen? You don't know anything. You buried an empty box!
Linda Schell: That's not the point! His memory is there!
Oskar Schell: Only humans can cry tears. Did you know that?
Oskar Schell: [voice-over] What if you could ride an elevator down to visit your dead relatives, just like you take the bridge to see your friends in Brooklyn, or the ferry to Staten Island? Dad once told me that New York used to have a Sixth Borough, right next to Manhattan. But you can't visit that anymore, because it floated away and no one knows where it is.
Oskar Schell: I'm sure people tell you this constantly, but if you look under "incredibly beautiful" in the dictionary, there's a picture of you.
Abby Black: You must think this is very odd.
Oskar Schell: Oh, I think a lot of things are odd. People tell me I'm very odd all the time.
Linda Schell: [in bed, roughly roused from sleep by Oskar] Oskar, what's wrong?
Oskar Schell: Do you promise not to bury me... when I die?
Linda Schell: It's the middle of the night, Oskar.
Oskar Schell: [vehemently] Do you promise not to bury me when I die?
Linda Schell: You are not going to die. You are going to live a long, long life.
Oskar Schell: You sure you love me?
Linda Schell: [sighs] Completely sure.
Oskar Schell: Then put me in one of those mausoleum thingies above the ground.
Oskar Schell: [voice-over of letter he is writing] You might want to know, the key wasn't meant for me. It was meant for a Mr. William Black, who maybe needed it even more than I did. I was disappointed... obviously. But I'm honestly glad that it's where it belongs. And I'm even glad to have my disappointment, which is much better than having nothing.
Oskar Schell: [recording a message for new voicemail machine] Hi, you've reached the Schell residence. Today is Tuesday, September 11th. Here's today's fact of the day: It is so cold in Yakutia that breath instantly freezes with a crackling sound they call "the whispering of the stars".
Oskar Schell: Can I kiss you?
Abby Black: You're a sweet boy, but I don't think that would be a good idea.
Oskar Schell: Can I take a picture so that I can remember you?
Oskar Schell: [voice-over] I didn't know what was waiting for me. Although my stomach hurt and my eyes were watering I'd made up my mind that nothing was gonna stop me. Not even me.
Thomas Schell: Well, as with anything, if you want to believe you can find reasons to.
Oskar Schell: Can I tell you something I've never told anyone else before?
Hector Black: HELL NO!

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