Monday, September 30, 2013

The Time Machine

 This weekend was rather fast and furious.  I think I was in a fog for the better part of it.  Not so much fuzzy headed or thinking-wise, just rather indifferent and rudderless.  But that's okay, it was a weekend after all.

On Friday night TCM had their Future Shock SF block night, and I caught most of it.  They kicked things off with The Time Machine, by George Pal.  A movie I own, and is a favorite of mine for all sorts of reasons.  I like the British flavor of it set in the Victorian era. I like how a small group of scholarly men meet in the drawing room of George Wells played by Rod Taylor to discuss all sorts of scientific things. I like how the inside to the house is filled with clocks and all the bric-a-brac of their cozy world.  He tells them he's invented a time machine and they all find that amusing, until he shows them a few things, which they dismiss, except for a close friend played by Alan Young.  I think the first time I saw the Time Machine might have been back in the 70's, when I watched it with a group of  young cadets at a San Marcos Military Academy were I was working as a proctor there for a semester in San Marcos.  I'm not sure why they chose this particular film or the film, Fantastic Planet, that we saw the next week, but I'm glad they did as both films are classics of the genre, and provided great escapism.
I've read the short novella by H. G. Wells, and it follows fairly close to the original movie version, with exceptions here and there, for example, the opening mentioned above.  H.G. Wells just referred to the main character as the traveler, not giving him a name per se, if memory serves.  However, that sort of framing device worked for me, and is also similar to the way they framed the recent John Carter movie, by including E.R. Burroughs within it to some degree.
For the time period of the 60's to even today's standards,  The Time Machine still holds up rather well.  The special effects I would think would still charm a younger audience and hold their attention, and the story is complex enough to keep adults engaged.  It wasn't until later on when  I read further about Wells's intent about the story and the parable that it contains that gave me pause.  Not so much to form anything negative about either the film, book, or author, but merely to understand them a bit more and the idea behind it.  The parallels between the troglodyte-like Morlocks as the working class part of Victorian society, and the beautiful, pampered, and thoughtless Eloi as the upper class removed from each other.  The Time Traveler becomes the romantic hero, rousing the Eloi to battle against their devourers and oppressors. 

Odd how time changes things and gives one newer perspectives.  Now I find it a bit strange that the working class were portrayed in that rather negative light, and the upper class as the enlightened nobles.  But there again one has to take such matters in the time frame they're written.  Mostly I just find The Time Machine as an interesting escapism, and classic film.  More later.


At 7:54 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

I haven't seen this film in years, but it was one of my favorites as a kid. I remember the very colorful visual effects and the Morlocks were pretty creepy looking.

I read the novel a few years back and I enjoyed it quite a bit. But the Eloi in the novel are even more delicate and fragile, not really even remotely human at all, and more pathetic than anything else.

Need to check this one out again.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Roman, yes, the original is certainly worth re-watching. I've seen the remake, and didn't enjoy it as well, but if you've never seen it you might enjoy it too. The effects are sort of cool, but something was missing for me--probably the George Pal atmosphere.


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