ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms
Movies18 Oct 2009

We watched the movie Primer the other night. It’s about a couple of engineers who invent a limited kind of time travel in their garage. It was shot on a budget of $7000 and doesn’t have any special effects or flashy action sequences, and all of the performances are really low-key: the engineers talk like engineers. It’s a naturalistic approach that really works, and the movie is that much more fascinating for feeling “plausible”.

The time machine that the two engineers invent allows them to travel backwards a day or two at a time, pretty much at will. A lot of SF that deals with time travel often dodges the really interesting possibilities: i.e., can you go back and meet yourself? No, it’s not allowed, it might “rupture the fabric of the space-time continuum” or something like that. Primer takes the easy road out of nothing: it grabs the concept of time travel with both hands and runs with it as far as it can. I really liked that it only took the inventors a week to go from “we can use this to predict the stock market and get rich,” to absolute chaos.

Primer is probably not for everyone. The last third is extremely hard to follow (there’s a huge chart on the internet somewhere that tries to lay out the plot as it continually circles back on itself, and even after spending some time with that chart I’m still not completely sure what happened) and a person could easily find it both bewildering and boring. Despite all that, I thought it was fantastic.

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