Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekly Whine: Time Travel Paradox

I like movies about time travel. In general.

But what bugs me is how time travel movies are rarely consistent. Like, I feel like a time travel movie can have one of two theories behind it:

1) Things you do when you time travel to the past change the future

2) Things you do when you time travel to the past explain the future

Either one is okay. But more likely, movies mix both. Which is just wrong.

To give a classic example everyone knows: Back to the Future. I love this movie, but it definitely mixes the two theories of time travel.

Obviously, things Marty does in the past end up changing the future: when he returns to 1985, his parents are completely different. And he has a really cool car.

But at the same time, things Marty does in the past explain the future, such as the etiology of his first name, inspiring Goldie Wilson to run for mayor, and inspiring Chuck Berry to write Johnny B Goode.

So which is it? Do Marty's actions in 1955 change the future or do they explain it?

Occasionally, a movie comes close to getting it right, or at least it's confusing enough that you're not sure. I think 12 Monkeys may have gotten it right. Ditto with The Time Travelers Wife (the book, not the movie). Also, I think Futurama did it well, if not perfect.

13 comments:

  1. The problem is how most people think of time as a linear progression of events... when, in reality, it's more a great big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff.


    (hope that's not too obscure a reference here!)

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    1. It started well, that sentence...


      (and thank you!! was hoping someone would post this, seeing how this is a site about doctors and all..)

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    2. That sentence kind of got away from you there didn't it?

      Love it! Was going to say the same thing

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    3. I wonder what Fizzy thinks about the show.

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    4. I don't watch Doctor Who.

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  2. I don't think Time Traveler's Wife really fit either time travel theme. It kind of just was.

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    1. Well, I wasn't bothered by the progression of events. It made my head hurt a little, but I feel there was a circular consistency of sorts.

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    2. Yes I agree. I liked the book. For some reason I remember you not liking it, but maybe I'm confused.

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    3. No, I liked it. I didn't like Water for Elephants.

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  3. Obligatory picture: http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/5795881_700b_v1.jpg

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  4. So that's what futurama is about...

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  5. What were your opinions of Primer and Donnie Darko?

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    1. Primer and Donnie Darko were two WTF movies. I like Donnie Darko a lot, although it's a little confusing what actually happened in that movie, so it's hard to say what the consistency is.

      As for Primer... that is one of the two or three movies in my lifetime I have walked out of having no freaking clue what just happened. I remember going to the ladies room after, and everyone in there was asking, "Did you understand that movie?" My husband and I looked up explanations on the internet after and we still couldn't figure it out. So I have no idea if it was consistent.

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