Saturday, 13 September 2008

Check out this movie - Time After Time (1979)

I love time travel stories. I think they're playgrounds for a storyteller's imagination. Though I've written a fair few myself (not to mention a series of poems), I'm constantly enthralled by the scope and exciting ideas thrust up by the genre. Wells, of course, is the grandfather of time travel, but I'd also cite The Twilight Zone as a collective source of many of the trends of modern time travel conceits.

Last night I happened upon a terrific little time travel movie called Time After Time, in which H.G. Wells must pursue Jack the Ripper from 1893 to 1979, in order to stop the madman's killing spree. It's chock full of lovely creative flourishes, such as the Ripper actually being one of the distinguished dinner guests invited to Wells' unveiling of his new creation, the time machine. In 1979, the Ripper (played by Brit veteran David Warner) fits in far more easily than poor H.G., whose misplaced theses on a future utopia come crashing down about him. But love, he decides, is the perennial constant that makes the decadence bearable; and in this case, his romance with sweet Amy (Mary Steenburgen) forces him to address his pacifist theories--if he wants to save her life.

Scripted and directed by Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek: Wrath of Khan), it's a witty, inventive and rather elegant film. The Ripper is never a one-dimensional villain--indeed, he's very much the intellectual counterpart of Wells--but Warner knows how to play nasty when required. Malcolm McDowall's performance as Wells is a delight. He's naive and bumbling, yet also resourceful and tries, whenever possible, to underplay what could have easily been a cartoon character. Mary Steenburgen plays a younger, ditzier, more neurotic version of her Clara Clayton character in Back to the Future Part III. She's great as always.

I recommend Time After Time without hesitation. It's one of the better time travel movies I've seen.

Here are a few others:

Back to the Future (1985) & Sequels
The Time Machine (1960 & 2002)
Deja Vu (2005)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Timecop (1995)

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