Since British author H.G. Wells, one of the fathers of science fiction literature, published his classic "The Time Machine" (twice adapted for film in 1960 and 2002), many works of fiction have used a similar premise. We go over some of the most memorable films that deal, from very different points of view, the fascinating theme of time travel.
In 2029 machines rule the world and the leader of the human rebellion is John Connor, a man born in the 80s. The machines send a Terminator back in time, whose mission is to eliminate Connor's mother Sarah so that he's never born. There have so far been three sequels to James Cameron's 'The Terminator' and a fourth is in production.
'Back to the Future'
In 'Back to the Future', Marty McFly is a restless teenager who befriends mad scientist Doc Brown, inventor of a time machine inside a Delorean car. Marty accidentally travels thirty years into the past, before his future parents had ever met. After preventing their first meeting, Marty has to fix the error and get them to fall in love, to ensure his own future existence. It's a hilarious start to the Robert Zemeckis trilogy that exudes imagination, pace and humour. The film is one of the biggest blockbusters of the 1980s and a firm favourite of millions.
In 'The Visitors', medieval knight and his page are mysteriously transported to the 1990s. Their anachronistic and quirky ways cause much confusion around them, as they try desperately to return to their own time. One of the biggest commercial successes of French cinema, the film spawned a sequel and saw recognition for the comic talents of actor Jean Reno. The film received nine nominations at the Cesar awards.
In 'Twelve Monkeys', a deadly virus in 2035 triggers an epidemic that kills millions of people, with the survivors taking refuge in underground communities. Prisoner James Cole volunteers to travel back in time and get a sample of the virus that would allow the production of an antidote. Loosely inspired by 'La Jetée ' by Chris Marker, this Terry Gilliam fantasy is as crazy as it is fascinating. The film saw a Golden Globe win and first Oscar nomination for Brad Pitt.
In 'Frequency', John is a thirty-something obsessed with the death of his father: a firefighter who was killed at work 30 years earlier. During an aurora borealis, John contacts him through an old radio that communicates with the past and informs his father of the mistakes he'll make in the fire. But saving his life unleashes a 'butterfly effect' of tragic effects in the present day. A highly entertaining fantasy thriller which saw a return to form for Dennis Quaid.
'The Butterfly Effect'
In 'The Butterfly Effect', Evan is a young man unable to overcome a traumatic childhood memory. One day he finds a technique that allows him to travel back in time into himself as a child to alter the course of his life. He soon finds that every little change in the past greatly alters your future. Ashton Kutcher triumphs in this interesting comedy thriller that the audience liked more than the critics.
'Midnight in Paris'
In 'Midnight in Paris', an American writer who suffers writer's block comes to Paris with his fiancée. While roaming the streets of the Latin Quarter, he falls under a spell that allows him to travel to the 'Roaring Twenties' every night at midnight when the bells chime. It gives him chance to meet celebrities from the art world and sees him enter into a surprising relationship. It's Woody Allen's most commercially successful film to date and also wowed the critics after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2072 Mob murder targets are sent through a time machine to the past, where a group of hired murderers (called Loopers), are responsible for removing and disposing of victims. Joe, one of the Loopers, is shocked to find himself coming face-to-face with his older self and an order to kill. 'Looper' is a great mix of neo-noir and science fiction, which was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 and made director Rian Johnson "one to watch".
In 'About Time', Tim is a twenty-something who discovers that all the men in his family have the ability to travel through time, to get to a certain point in their lives and put something right that previously went wrong. Tim decides to go back to the past to try to win the girl of his dreams. It's a tender double love story (romantic and father/son) from Richard Curtis, with a fantastic premise remarkably well executed. The film was a bigger hit in Europe than he United States.