Time-travel: A big DRAMATIC ball of timey wimey stuff (#SFWApro)

One reason, I think, that a lot of time-travel movies ride roughshod over logic is that they’re more concerned with squeezing out the maximum drama.

Take, for example, Back to the Future. The visual symbol for Marty’s future disappearing is that the photo of his siblings is slowly fading, oldest child first. Now this makes no sense: either the timeline’s changed and they don’t exist, or it hasn’t changed yet and they’re fine. But from a dramatic point of view it does provide a convenient image.

Or the movie Il Mare (which I’ll review this weekend), the Korean original of the Sandra Bullock/Keanu Reaves Lake House (ditto). The female lead learns the reason her two-years-in-the-past boyfriend never made their big date in the present is that he died. She manages to save him, so he shows up in the present at the last minute. But wouldn’t it have made more sense to show up at their big date now that he’s alive? But the drama of having them finally meet for the first time at the end does make it understandable (much less so in Lake House where they’ve already met and made out by the finish).

Or the classic problem that if someone goes back in time and kills you twelve hours after she arrives, you then have 12 hours in the present before anything changes. The change would actually be instantaneous so you’d already be screwed. This happens in Star Trek: First Contact—this weekend again—when the Borg go back in time and Earth in the present is instantly part of the collective. Points to the writers.

The Korean series Nine Time Travels, which I’m slowly working through, pulls off drama and logic too. The hero goes back in time and encourages a little girl to call her sick mom’s boyfriend (the hero’s hoping to reunite them). We intercut scenes of the girl trying to reach the guy in the past with the hero talking with his new bride, who mentions that her mother was so superstitious, she made her change her name a couple of times … yep, she’s the kid he was just talking to. And the moment the boyfriend picks up the phone, the bride is gone because her history’s been changed (I’ll get into details when I finish the run). It’s logical, but it does provide some suspense (the series has also acknowledged there’s a big time paradox in play—I’m curious to see how they deal with it).
Of course, the more successful the movie is at pulling off the drama, the less I’ll be bothered by the time glitches. Not that I won’t notice them, but they won’t turn me off unless the movie stinks anyway.


Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel, TV

2 responses to “Time-travel: A big DRAMATIC ball of timey wimey stuff (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Remake vs. original: Four time-travel films (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Grandfather paradoxes (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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