Monday, 22 July 2013

The Time Machine (1960)

Are you telling me you made a time machine...out of a sleigh?!

Probably one of the most well known and best loved sci-fi stories ever written alongside 'War of the Worlds', both of which came from the same man.

A clever story which starts out at the end of the main characters adventure, the whole story is then relayed to us basically through flashbacks. After inventing a time machine the 'time traveller' skips through time zones one bit at a time before a near disaster forces him to jump way ahead into the future. Its there he meets two different types of humans, the girl of his dreams and must battle to get his machine back in order to escape back into the past.

The time traveller in this film is named 'George' where as in the book he is never named, merely called the time traveller. A popular idea is that the main character within this story is in fact Wells himself, I'm unsure about this but its entirely possible, adds a nice mystery to the proceedings.

Its a simple premise which comes across nicely in this film, for the most part the effects are actually quite simple in terms of showing us time racing forward. The simple visualisation of certain objects getting older and decaying is what we see mostly, yet it works well. There is also use of nice camera 'trickery' with shots of the sun racing across the sky from dawn to sunset, the flash of shadows jumping around objects as time and the sun fast forwards, and the moon in its phases.

Of course special effects are limited due to the era so don't go expecting lavish CGI. There is a lot of model work, blue screen, men in suits with heavy makeup etc...its all quite cheesy and typically 60's in some places, but hey what do you expect right.

The 'Elois' are a prime example of the time, they all look like Children of the Corn type hippies in Roman toga-like attire, and of course they are all blonde so that must mean they are advanced. The 'Morlocks' are much better in design if you ask me and quite eerie too with their glowing eyes. The makeup on their faces is well done giving them a nice gaunt, wild, beast-like appearance.

Another popular but sad element used often is the act of major world changing wars throughout. All through the story events are shaped by war, naturally this includes the known world wars but it also covers other wars, future wars, atomic wars. The way the future forms with the Eloi and Morlocks is based around a world changing nuclear war. I guess its a natural fact that we must accept, humans and their desire for war, its in our violent nature and I'm sure the world will be changed again and again in the future through war.

Its definitely a fun jaunt through the ages with Aussie actor Rod Taylor. Brave move to cast an unknown (especially from Oz) over stars such as James Mason, but Taylor holds his own and is a likeable chap. You really do feel his frustration and anger with the Eloi, their lack of interest for their own kind and past human history/achievements. Plus their haircuts, outfits and general moping around would piss me off! I'd let them get eaten by the Morlocks (bit dark that angle wasn't it).

I liked how the first half of the film is almost told entirely with narration as Taylor travels through the ages, not sure why but I just did. Had to expect the obligatory blonde female love interest of course, terribly predictable feature of pretty much every classic old flick. Its very hokey, hammy and kinda plays out (and looks) like an old Star Trek episode, but with all these old films things like that just add to the charm. Primitive by today's standards of course but thoroughly enjoyable...if you can stand those damn Eloi.