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THE TIME MACHINE


STARRING: Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot, Tom Helmore, Whit Bissell, Doris Lloyd

1960, 103 Minutes, Directed by: George Pal


The Time Machine has aged terribly - which is perhaps ironic for a movie with such a title. Not only does the movie, made in 1960, predict that the world will end after a nuclear war in 1966 (!), but the special effects and make-up are positively antiquated now. 

Sure, the special effects were clever for its time, but if you're the type who hate old movies because of their inferior (when compared to today's special effects extravaganzas) production values, then you're advised to avoid The Time Machine.

In such an event I am sure that you would prefer the 2002 remake. Be warned, however, that both movie versions take liberties with the H.G. Wells' novel on they are supposedly based. It would seem that any similarities between the movies and their source material are purely coincidental, especially in the case of the new version: its producers probably wanted to make The Mummy instead!

This 1960 version will have literary purists fuming, even though it doesn't take as much liberties as George Pal did with a previous H.G. Wells movie adaptation, namely 1953's War of the Worlds.) Wells' Darwinist comments involving labor and capital evolving into separate races are diluted in favor of romance and adventure. 

A Victorian inventor takes a time machine to the year 802 701, where he finds humanity divided into two groups: the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are a vacant lot, looking like the kids from Village of the Damned would probably have looked like had they grown up. These airhead Aryan types lead a life of complete luxury in a virtual paradise, but they lack culture, drive and ambition.

In contrast, the Morlocks are blue skinned hairy monsters that toil beneath the earth, keeping the Eloi in their luxurious lifestyle. Starting to get the point? For a succinct summary go watch Mel Gibson's 1996 movie Ransom, in which the villain played by Gary Sinise explains The Time Machine's plot points. (Or rather don't: any movie in which one identifies with the supposed bad guys instead of the film's hero has to be skewed. Besides, who can identify with a corrupt billionaire union-bashing airline owner played by Mel Gibson?)

Like I said, unlike its literary inspiration The Time Machine isn't out to score any philosophical points. Despite this it remains a fun movie to watch. The plot is still interesting, the acting decent, the pace brisk, the dialogue thoughtful and the whole affair isn't anywhere as camp as it could have been. 

If you're a serious SF fan then you'll no doubt enjoy The Time Machine and agree that it is deservedly the classic that it is held out to be. Catch it late on TV one night. (Possible double bill idea: rent this movie together with the much underrated Time After Time.)
 

 

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