Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
"The Time Machine" is a witless recycling of the H.G. Wells story from 1895, with the absurdity intact but the wonderment missing. It makes use of computer-aided graphics to create a future race of grubby underground beasties, who like the characters in "Battleship Earth" have evolved beyond the need for bathing and fingernail clippers. Since this race--the Morlocks--is allegedly a Darwinian offshoot of humans, and since they are remarkably unattractive, they call into question the theory that over a long period of time a race grows more attractive through natural selection. They are obviously the result of 800,000 years of ugly brides.
The film stars Guy Pearce as Alexander Hartdegen, a brilliant mathematician who hopes to use Einstein's earliest theories to build a machine to travel through time. He is in love with the beautiful Emma (Sienna Guillory), but on the very night when he proposes marriage, a tragedy happens, and he vows to travel back in time in his new machine and change the course of history.
The machine, which lacks so much as a seat belt, consists of whirling spheres encompassing a Victorian club chair. Convenient brass gauges spin to record the current date. Speed and direction are controlled by a joystick. The time machine has an uncanny ability to move in perfect synchronization with the Earth, so that it always lands in the same geographical spot, despite the fact that in the future large chunks of the moon (or all of it, according to the future race of Eloi) have fallen to the Earth, which should have had some effect on the orbit. Since it would be inconvenient if a time machine materialized miles in the air or deep underground, this is just as well.
We will not discuss paradoxes of time travel here, since such discussion makes any time travel movie impossible. Let us discuss instead an unintended journey, which Hartdegen makes to 8,000 centuries in the future, when Homo sapiens has split in two, into the Eloi and Morlocks. The Morlocks evolved underground in the dark ages after the moon's fall, and attack on the surface by popping up through dusty sinkholes. They hunt the Eloi for food. The Eloi are an attractive race of brown-skinned people whose civilization seems modeled on paintings by Rousseau; their life is an idyll of leafy bowers, waterfalls and elegant forest structures, but they are such fatalists about the Morlocks that instead of fighting them off, they all but salt and pepper themselves.