“Wait a minute. Wait a minute Doc, are you telling me you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?”
My love for time travel began the night I first watched Back to the Future. I was at my uncle and aunt’s house. Somehow a VHS copy of Back to the Future was dusted off and inserted into the VCR. I don’t remember much about that night, but the film had a profound impact on my future.
Truth be told, I think my biggest takeaway from the 1985 science-fiction classic was how good of an actor Michael J. Fox was. I immediately sought out for of his films, absorbing everything from Teen Wolf and Family Ties to Spin City and Greedy. Finding a new Fox film on DVD was the highlight of the week.
Yet, Back to the Future remained at the front of my mind. It was easily the first movie to make me really appreciate the art of cinema. I didn’t watch the two sequels until my fifteenth birthday a few years later. The trilogy was now complete, and I was hooked on the time travel juice. The Terminator, Minutemen, Looper, these were all films I vividly remember watching. And for a long time, they were really the only time travel films I watched.
Fast forward a decade, and I’m gearing up to write the 50 Greatest Time Travel Movies of All Time list with fellow SAW writer Jacob Holmes. I’ve been diving deep into the history of time travel films to prepare. 12 Monkeys, About Time, Run Lola Run, Midnight in Paris, The Time Machine, Time After Time, almost every day has led to a new discovery, and a new way to look at time travel.
I think that is what makes time travel such an exciting sub-genre of science-fiction to watch. There’s no concrete scientific evidence on how time travel works which allows each filmmaker to write their own rules. Does time loop? Is the future set in stone? Can you change the past? Time travel allows the question of “What if I did this instead of that?” to no longer matter. The answer is within reach so long as you have a TARDIS, time-travelling DeLorean, or other time machine on your hands.
With each new time travel I watch, my appreciation for the sub-genre grows. Sometimes its the protagonists that make the movie enjoyable, and other times it’s the inventive use of time travel the filmmakers employ. The possibilities are endless, and it is often the craziest premises that form the best time travel narratives.
November 2020 is time travel month at ScreenAge Wasteland. We’ll be taking a look at the various movies that have left an impact on the sub-genre, and what they mean to us.
It’s time to buckle your seat belts and get up to 88MPH because this is going to be a fun month.
What do you think of time travel films? What are some of your favorites in movies, television, and beyond?