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#160: “Time Travel”

We all would like to travel into the past. Perhaps we want to fix a problem with the world, or we just want to go back and prevent ourselves from making stupid mistakes. Whatever the reason, we have a desire to relive the past. Similarly, we are obsessed with the future because we can then predict the present. We can also take advantage of advances in technology if we manage to travel to the future. Even though we all dream of time travel, the fact of the matter is that it is impossible. But what if there was a way to travel through time without physically doing so? What if we could see the future? What if we could influence the past? While there is no way to physically travel through time, some theoretical physics could allow for some actions that might resemble time travel. This week’s two films examine time travel without actually travelling through time.

Donnie DarkoDonnie Darko
Year: 2001
Rating: R
Length: 113 minutes / 1.88 hours

The idea of a “Reset Button” has been covered in this blog before. While the desire to go back and correct our mistakes can be controllable, like in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), it can also act outside of our control until we learn a deeper lesson about ourselves, like in Groundhog Day (1993). However, occasionally something that should have happened doesn’t. When this deviation from a destined path is created, the world will put its full force toward “fixing the glitch”. In the 2011 film, The Adjustment Bureau, these fixes were performed in real-time in order to direct the paths of individuals back to their destiny. But what if the new destiny is irreversible? In these instances, the world will rewind and restore itself through the successful execution of the event in question, even if it results in a disaster.

The disaster that begins Donnie Darko is that of a jet engine crashing into the bedroom of the titular character. Fortunately for Donnie (Jake Gyllenhaal), he was sleepwalking away from his house when the incident happened. Unfortunately, during his walk, he came across a grotesque rabbit by the name of “Frank” who told him that the world will end in 28 days. As Donnie returns to his life as a High School student, Frank tells him to commit various crimes that end up revealing the darker side of many other individuals. At the same time, he has befriended Roberta Sparrow (Patience Cleveland), who wrote the book “The Philosophy of Time Travel”. This philosophy refers to an unstable “Tangent Universe”, which can only last a few weeks. Donnie’s current universe is a Tangent Universe, which corrects itself with a vortex that consumes a jet engine and places it in Donnie’s bedroom, except with him now in it.

PaycheckPaycheck
Year: 2003
Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 minutes / 1.98 hours

Considering how much money is spent on “fortune telling”, we all desire to know what the future holds. From palm reading, to horoscopes, to crystal balls, all these methods do is give you generalities that could happen to anyone. But what if you could actually see through time? What if a machine was built that could bend time so that the future could be observed? This predictive machine could easily be used to prevent tragedies; but, if it were to fall into the wrong hands, could actually be used to create the very tragedies it was meant to prevent. Physics can be an interesting beast sometimes, especially in its theoretical constructs. Black holes and travelling at the speed of light are both ways that physics says we could potentially look into the future. However, as it now stands, the only place where this could happen is in the realm of film.

Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) works as a reverse engineer, but in order to keep from revealing the secrets he learns during his jobs, he receives a memory wipe at the successful completion of the project. For his time and skills, and the erasure of his memories, Michael receives a large paycheck from the company. However, a new project has emerged that will require a different type of memory wipe, since the project is supposed to last over many years. Once completed, Michael goes to pick up his paycheck, only to receive an envelope with a random assortment of useless items. Feeling like he was robbed, Michael sets forth to figure out where his money is and what he reverse engineered during the last three years. In doing so, he finds the useless items are links to his past and his future and must be used to solve the mystery hidden in his missing memories.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 trippy travels through time

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4 responses to “#160: “Time Travel”

  1. Pingback: End of Act Four | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: #221. Jake Gyllenhaal | Cinema Connections

  3. Pingback: #222. Adjusted Timelines | Cinema Connections

  4. Pingback: #248. Erased Memories | Cinema Connections

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