The Time Machine

The Time Machine is a great story for the ideas it introduces, more than the plot. Here, Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce), deeply effected by the death of his girlfriend, invents a time machine to change the past. After realising the futility of changing the past, he travels into the future (stopping after having travelled 800,000 years) seeking answers.

The primary theme in the film has to do with the circularity of time travel, as well as the future of humanity. In this regard, the film provokes some interesting thoughts: can a person invent a time machine and go back in time and affect the reason that caused them to invent the time machine? Will humanity ever over-specialise to a point where different tasks are done by different sets or "castes" of people?

The first question is a pseudoscientific and -philosophical one. The answer may be that it is indeed a paradox. Alternately, the Many Worlds interpretation of Everett's Relative-State Formulation of Quantum Mechanics would say that it is possible to have a time line where Alexander's wife dies and one where she doesn't, thanks to his intervention (this would only result in a pre-existing time machine).

The second question tells something about the state of society today. People are compartmentalised and there are definite economic "castes". I don't see the trends getting better and only see them taking a turn for the worse. Still, if a catastrophic event that threatened the humans on this planet accord, I doubt that our evolutionary successors would move towards compartmentalisation.

This is because our current system (of specialisation), and the system depicted in the The Time Machine, is highly inefficient. In nature, such systems eventually lead to stagnation since it creates bottlenecks--consider what happens in the film when our protagonist kills off the "mind" portion of the humanoid species. So I think our long term future is either our destruction or some sort of an individualist collective (like the bacterial population on this planet).

The Time Machine is a great movie to watch also for its spectacular visuals and imaginative use of special effects, including morphing scenes of humanity's progress and destruction. The actors all present solid performances. There are many plot holes in the story but nonetheless the film is worth watching on the big screen.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||