Alphabetical Movie – Looper
Time travel is probably one of the most tricky conceits for any movie. The moment you decide your movie will involve time travel, you are immediately faced with the unavoidable fact that you can’t write such a story without creating a paradox.
How can the Terminator possibly succeed at killing John Connor since he already hasn’t?
If you are going to tell a good story about time travel, you have to embrace the paradox. You have to just accept that it doesn’t all make sense but if time travel were really possible, it wouldn’t all make sense.
If they can go back to the exact point in time they want to get some whales, why couldn’t they come back five days earlier so they wouldn’t be crippled by the probe?
Time travel is a conceit that allows us to bring one character from one time into another era, which can give us cool results or it can give us Kate and Leopold. Often it is used precisely because of the problems it creates.
Looper was, cleverly enough, all about the problem of Time Travel. Time Travel exists. We know it is a really bad idea. People do it anyway. It turns out it was a really bad idea.
I’m simplifying just a bit.
Abraham Lincoln is a pretty clever guy. When Bill and Ted bring him to the future, don’t you think he’ll figure out that he might want to skip the play?
Dr. Who just embraces the paradox by saying, in essence, that paradoxes happen when you start traveling through time and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. It’s sort of a “let the buyer beware” philosophy.
What do you meant the same matter can’t occupy the same space? Twenty years apart, not a single piece of matter that comes in contact would be the same! Besides, wouldn’t they only occupy the same space if they could somehow merge with each other rather than bump into each other? Science!
In fact, I think it is the mess of time travel that makes it so compelling. The main reason most time travel movies revel in the paradoxes is because the paradoxes are the most fun. If the Borg can’t travel back in time to change history because they didn’t, you don’t have much of a story, do you?
Hey, that’s pretty cool! It was Earth the whole time! Hang on…how did they travel in time to begin with?
You can avoid the entire thing by making your Time Travel movie a comedy. If your movie is called Hot Tub Time Machine, not too many people are going to complain about any paradoxes created (unless you’re me). It’s about a hot tub that’s a time machine. Get over it!
But if Marty manages to erase his own birth by ensuring his parents never go out, he’d never have been born so he couldn’t have prevented his parents from going out!
I like Time Travel and I like it when it’s done well. I think that Looper is a fantastic film because it establishes rules and sticks to them. On the other hand, how can Joe both kill and not kill himself?
Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey indeed!