The Possibilities of Time Travel

The Possibilities of Time Travel

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: February 20th, 2006
Certificate: 12
Running Time: 74 minutes

Director: Shane Carruth
Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya, Carrie Crawford, Jay Butler, John Carruth, Juan Tapia, Ashley Warren, Samantha Thomson, Chip Carruth

Set in the industrial park/suburban tract-home fringes of an unnamed city where two young engineers, Abe and Aaron work by day for a large corporation and by night carry out extracurricular experiments on their own time in a garage. While tweaking their current project, a device that reduces the apparent mass of any object placed inside it by blocking gravitational pull, they accidentally discover that it has some highly unexpected capabilities – ones that could enable them to do and to have seemingly anything they want. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity is the first challenge they face. Dealing with the consequences is the next.

Released in 2004, Primer received widespread critical acclaim for its content, innovation and its driving force; director, writer, actor, cinematographer, producer, editor, composer, sound department, production designer and casting director Shane Carruth. Filmed entirely in his Dallas, Texas hometown, Carruth completed the project on a $7000 budget on Super 16mm and easily puts to shame the big name film makers and their big budget attempts at filmmaking.

While there have been numerous films, books and television shows which have dealt with the idea of time travel over the years, not all of them have managed it as effectively as Primer, though there have been a few notable exceptions.

One of the earliest known stories involving time travel dates back to the Mahabharata, believed to have been written around 700 BC. In the story, King Revaita returns to Earth after meeting Brahma and discovers that many ages have passed in the short amount of time he was away. In the 15th Century, there was the Japanese tale of Urashima Taro, a fisherman who goes away for three days, but when he returns, 300 years have passed. Elsewhere in history there’s A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens in 1843 and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine from 1895, two examples which have become…timeless. In 1997 Stephen Fry wrote Making History, a story set in Cambridge where a student travels back in time to stop the Third Reich, only to be faced with a new history worse than before.

In the past decade we’ve also had numerous television shows dipping back and forth in time such as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sliders, The X-Files, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Lost, Medium, 4400 and Heroes. In film we’ve had Back to the Future and the most recent Star Trek as just a couple of examples, so it’s an erea of science/science-fiction which has continued to fascinate mankind since antiquity, but is it really possible and can you really change things once they’ve happened?

Physicist Stephen Hawking has argued that the absence of visitors from the future could be proof that time travel is not possible. This doesn’t make it impossible though as there could be many reasons why we have not met visitors from the future or the past yet. Other factors which might make time travel possible are worm holes and the ability to travel faster than light, but compared to other areas of physics, we still do not know that much about time and the paradoxes which time travel could unravel in our universe. For now perhaps the experiments are best carried out from a safe distance in movies such as Primer which not only asks if its possible, but deals with the ethical and moral implications behind such a scientific breakthrough.


  • Audio commentary from director/star Shane Carruth
  • Audio commentary from members of the cast and crew
  • Trailer
  • Film notes

The strain which the discovery puts on Abe and Aaron’s friendship feeds the drama of story and it balances well with the science-fiction side of the film. Its fascinating to watch how Aaron and Abe’s friendship change as the film progresses; they begin as very close friends who share this common interest and end up not being able to remain in the same room with each other by the end. It demands your attention and rewards you with an engrossing story, one which you may not fully grasp until long after you’ve watched it. The responsibility of their new power becomes a burden to them as that eternal question is finally given a chance to answer itself “What would you change?”.

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