Time Travel In the Movies

Discussion in 'Movies' started by David Oliver, Oct 31, 2003.

  1. David Oliver

    David Oliver Second Unit

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    I've always thought that 12 Monkeys was pretty internally logical and consistent movie with respect to it's time travel.

    I was going to include Slaughterhouse Five, but upon reflection it doesn't seem to me to involve time travel so much as someone living their life out of order.
     
  2. MichaelPe

    MichaelPe Screenwriter

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    I don't know if the science in the film is different than in the book, but Timeline had a pretty logical approach to time travel (though I should admit that my knowledge of quantum physics is poor).

    Terminator should be mentioned here for its logically-inconsistent paradox, but that's a whole other debate. [​IMG]
     
  3. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    The Back to the Future series also had inconsistent and nonsensical internal logic, but did a fairly good job glossing over this.

    I'd agree the 12 Monkeys makes more sense logically than pretty much any other time travel movie.
     
  4. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    I think Back to the Future has the most scientific explaination for time travel, even though the movies are comedies. They explain everything. Why you can't meet yourself, why it's bad to know too much about your future. But they screwed up at the last 2 minutes of the movie when Jennifer asks about the piece of paper that says Marty got fired is now erased and Doc responds by saying something along the lines of the future is not set and its whatever you want it to be.

    So they threw out all the destiny stuff in favour of a nice happy ending.

    I also liked how they did time travel in Donnie Darko, although explaining it will spoil the movie big time for those who want to see it.
     
  5. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    There are a number of films that had pretty solid approaches to time travel.

    Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home had a good approach to time travel with Kirk and company sling-shotting around the sun to go into time warp, a throwback to a couple of episodes of the original series. The only thing I wonder is, wouldn't there be two Birds-of-Prey heading to Earth, one with George and Gracie and one without?

    Star Trek: First Contact did a pretty solid job of presenting the time travel issue with the Enterprise-E and the Borg sphere heading back in time, and that was resolved pretty nicely, IMHO.

    Another good film that handled time travel effectively is Nicholas Meyer's Time After Time. That one was brilliant.

    And let's not forget Somewhere in Time, although the time travel theory seemed to be a bit stretched. The original Richard Matheson novel seemed to be a bit clearer in presenting the notion that Richard Collier had been dying of a brain tumor and may have dreamed about the entire time travel experience during his last days.
    That entire subplot was scrapped from the final film.
     
  6. Geoffrey_A

    Geoffrey_A Second Unit

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    Sadly, it has to be a really great movie for me to take a time travel story. Not because I dislike time travel stories mind you, but because of what I know about the practicalities of time travel. Especially in the Star Trek universe, which often cites Quantum Physics.

    Here's the thing. If we believe the multiple dimension theory, where there are an infinite number of universes where every probablity is played out, then time travel is completely useless. Take the favourite time travel paradox for instance, you go back and kill your parents, but then you won't exist so how can you go back? Answer: Doesn't matter. You left a universe in which you were born, as soon as you appear in the past you now occupy a different universe. Therefore, if you kill your parents, nothing happens to you, because you come from a parrallel universe where you didn't. Your universe carries on without you, the universe your in now does the same, excpet in this one you'll never exist. And the kicker? You can never go back to your universe. You now occupy a universe where you will never exist, go forward in time from that point and you end up in the future of that universe. Try to stop yourself and you will exist in yet another universe where you showed up to stop yourself, and so on and so on. Confusing, isn't it [​IMG]

    The problem inherent in this view of time travel is that it makes time travel completely useless. You could go back and kill Hitler, and it might very well make that universe a lot better, won't change anything for your world. In your universe Hitler still did horrible horrible things. Same thing with going to the future, you will arrive in a universe where you disappeared at some point in the past, and if you go back to where you left, you change the future you just visited. Time travel is a fun idea, but doesn't take a lot of scrutiny, because once you look into it a little deeper, it all falls apart.

    Dammit, I wish I'd never gotten so keen on studying time travel, damn you star trek!
     
  7. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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  8. Nick T Robot

    Nick T Robot Supporting Actor

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  9. Bill Williams

    Bill Williams Screenwriter

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    If we are to assume that, based on the first third of the film, the people at Starfleet witness the crash of the Bird of Prey in San Francisco Bay, based on their point of view, then it doesn't have George and Gracie and Dr. Taylor with them. However, in the revised timeline, we see the Bird of Prey heading for the bay with their 20th century additions on board. So it's possible that there could be two Birds of Prey that land in the SF Bay.

    Then again, it's equally feasible that in the original timeline, Earth is destroyed by the probe, which would then get rid of everything Trek after that (ST V and VI, TNG, DS9, and VOY). Therefore, the revised timeline occurs when the Bird of Prey returns to Earth, so Earth is saved.
     
  10. Joseph Howard

    Joseph Howard Stunt Coordinator

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    There is time travel in every movie. Every one ever made.
    You see, time travel does happen. We all travel time.

    Wanna see me time travel? Here I go.
    1
    2
    3
    Here I am 3 seconds later. I time traveled.


    ***********************

    Additionally, we can recieve electromagetic signals from
    the past. (Thus, messages recieved in the present from
    the past....)

    Look at the sun outside your window. A signal from the
    past as the sun was 8 minutes ago.

    Heck, books travel into the future but bring ideas from
    the past. Time travel happens every moment. (If time
    is continuous and not quantized - which it would be
    if there is a beginning of time and an end of time - quantized into one big gigayear quanta)

    Time travel and getting messages from the past is real
    science.

    Now, dislocation in time coordinates is a whole
    other matter.

    Clearly, I've had too much Dr. Pepper today.

    Dr. Joe
     
  11. Blaine Skerry

    Blaine Skerry Second Unit

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    I love the idea of Vonnegut's SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE. Billy Pilgrim becomes "unstuck" in time but he can only travel within his own life events. He can effect no changes but learns to concentrate on the good events in his life.
     
  12. Jamie corrns

    Jamie corrns Extra

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    Anybody see or read Stephen King's The Langoliers? That was an interesting take on time travel.
     
  13. Nick T Robot

    Nick T Robot Supporting Actor

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  14. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    Thought I'd dredge up this thread to say I just watched "Primer" last night. A pretty good film... has a real "indie" feel to the whole thing.

    But, it deals with the concept of time travel quite realistically... and how quickly things can get complicated and how it's impossible to know all of the consequences of your actions.

    Towards the end of the film I was like "WTF is going on?!?"
     
  15. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    This line from Primer got a lot of laughs;

    I haven't eaten since later this afternoon.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Colton

    Colton Supporting Actor

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    Here's the problem I have with time travel in movies - in The Time Machine he sees night and day cycles as he speeds back in time, but shouldn't the Earth begin to move away from him as well? The way I picture it, when you travel through time - everything will rapidly move backward (or forward) except you. So, the planets (including the Earth) will continue to rotate and move around the Sun. What should have happened in The Time Machine was his machine slowly drifting away from the Earth. He would have to calculate when the Earth would return at the EXACT SAME SPOT to determine his destination. If he were to miscalculate, he would be drifting into space forever.

    Just my theroy.

    - Colton
     
  17. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    My favorite time travel movie... Chris Marker's "La Jetee". Most interesting one seen recently... "Primer".
     
  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Mock me if you must, but my favorite time-travel movie is Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

    I enjoyed the novel Time Line (haven't seen the movie), but I'm frustrated by its internal system being called time travel. It's not. It's hopping parallel universes which line up at different temporal locations.
     
  19. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Producer

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    Time travel stories can be very interesting or they can just fall apart (Timeline). The Twilight Zone episode (The Last Flight) handled the topic very well, showing the reverberations from time travel (and had its plot lifted by the ST:TNG episode Yesterday's Enterprise, which was also very good).

    Here's my theory: Assuming it is possible to travel through time, you can go back in time and see yourself. You cannot, however, go forward and see yourself, because you have taken yourself out of the timeline to time travel, so the world you left behind will think that you vanished one day. Even if you plan on going back to the present, your future self will not exist in the period you traveled forward to visit. It's logically impossible to see your future self. (So Marty McFly in BTTF II could not have seen his future self.)
     
  20. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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