So… Time traveling… What an irregular stuff. It brings us great stories and awful ones. I am fascinated by cultural shocks, like when two different cultures find each other and somebody tries to survive/strive in a completely different society with different rules. That’s part of what makes time travels interesting to me. How would people look at each other if they came from completely different eras? However, time traveling can take you to much more than these cultural shocks if you go a bit beneath the surface – some examples below. I believe I was 13 when I wrote my first and only time-traveling story. The closest I got to it afterwards was writing THE ALEX 9 SAGA about a commando from the 22th Century finding a planet in Space where society was still in the Middle Ages. Sounds cheesy, doesn’t it? But it’s not, it’s one of my best works, I promise.
So today I decided to talk about 5 movies/books that have time-traveling at their core. These are not necessarily the best ones, but they are a few that I really like and that make time-traveling interesting to me. They are not in a particular order – and feel free to comment on my choices and suggest other ones.
What an interesting take on time-traveling! In the future, when the mob wants to get rid of someone without a trace, they send people to the past where a hitman is waiting to dispose of them. How cool is that!? And what if you get sent to the past to be killed by… yourself in the past!! Wow! This concept really rocks. Add a brilliant Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a young Bruce Willis and the amazing Emily Blunt and you have a real gem. Plus, of course, the twist at the end, which is very powerful. Actually the whole movie is filled with twists and turns that make your head spin. This is a film that I was very skeptical about until I watched it and loved it. I think the twists and turns account for most of the bad reviews it got, but that comes with the territory. I, for one, loved it. Of course, as with many time-traveling stories, it ignores the obvious paradox, but don’t let logic get in the way of a good story.
- THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE
Both this movie and this book bring an original and ground-breaking take to time-traveling. THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE starts with a man meeting a stranger in a library and she recognizes him as the man who has been visiting her since she was a little girl and with which she is in love. Many times we believe that people from the future would know more than we would know ourselves, but in this story things are not that simple: the time-traveler has a gene that sends him almost randomly into the past, so sometimes he meets the woman he loves when she is an adolescent, and sometimes when she is a grown woman. They eventually marry and his condition makes for a very curious and interesting love affair. I love romantic movies and this one is a good example. Again, another movie that went by without much notice, but I definitely recommend it.
The TERMINATOR series is quintessential time-traveling fiction. There’s something about Arnold, of course, but this idea of a robot assassin coming to the past to kill the man who will save the world is absolutely brilliant. I, for one, though, think the second installment is the best of the lot. If Arnold is a good bad guy in the first movie, he becomes a really badass good guy in the second and his relationship with Edward Furlong’s John Connor is both moving and incredibly rich. I also love Sarah’s prison escape sequence: it’s the one I always crave to watch. Linda Hamilton plays Sarah to perfection and the way Sarah, John, Arnold and T-1000 meet is very powerful (including the comic relief of the gun getting stuck in the bars).
- THE EDGE OF TOMORROW
I hesitated in considering GROUNDHOG DAY a time travel movie, but, in fact, Bill Murray’s character does travel to the past every day, always at the same moment. And GROUNDHOG DAY is a great movie and an absolute classic. However, I feel THE EDGE OF TOMORROW fits better in this list. The concept is very similar, but more violent: a US Army officer fighting an alien race wakes up always on the same day every time he gets killed. THE EDGE OF TOMORROW is a movie that grows on me every time I watch it (yes, I can see the irony). I think Emily Blunt is sexy as hell in this and Tom Cruise is indeed a good actor (despite the annoying smile). The movie is thought provoking and stimulating even though that ‘centralized intelligence’/’kill the queen’ thing is a bit old already. The movie is based on the manga series ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. One of these days I will tell you why I believe the Japanese (manga included) have some of the best character development around – for now take my word for it and watch this movie.
- BACK TO THE FUTURE
Even though I thought of other movies to put in here (like 12 MONKEYS), no time-traveling movie list would be complete without BACK TO THE FUTURE. I like the first one the most. Robert Zemeckis is a very strong director, even though I feel sometimes he shies away from some deeper moments. In BACK TO THE FUTURE he’s flawless. The construction of the narrative is very good, even though we stumble into the grandfather’s paradox once more. You know the one? If you went back in time and killed your grandfather before you were born how could you have gone back in time to kill your grandfather? But as I said before, don’t let logic get in the way of a good story. It’s always a treat to watch Michael J. Fox as Marty running around putting his parents ‘back’ together. It touches our fundamental fear of our parents separating or not succeeding and that’s a solid ground for a story. It’s also a cultural shock that is at least very funny. And of course Christopher Lloyd is amazing as Emmett Brown. This is one of those that we’ll see once and again on Christmas time for decades.
How did you like my list? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Tell me.
See you next week.