You probably won’t believe me when I tell you this. It was just like something off The Simpsons. There I was, sitting on my couch, contemplating my next step in the “Back to the Classics 2014” challenge. I was checking my local library catalogue and thought I’d better look up The Time Machine, knowing that as there had been no very recent adaptions it might be hard to track down a DVD. I realised with horror that they didn’t have a copy of any film adaptions, recent or otherwise. Just as I was debating whether my next step would be a trip to Video Ezy or eBay, an ad came up on the TV. “Guy Pierce in The Time Machine, coming up next on GEM!”
Hard to believe, but 100% true! I had to make a difficult choice. Watch the movie before I read the book (one of my pet hates) or wait and read the book, knowing I might not be able to get hold of a copy of the movie again before the end of the challenge. As you can probably guess from the timing of this post, this time practicality won out over pet peeves. I will of course be reading the book as soon as possible.
Not having read the book, I can only describe the movie as I saw it. It tells the story of engineer Alexander Hartdegen who, after the sudden death of his new fiancée, becomes obsessed with the idea of time travel. After one unsuccessful attempt to save her life, he travels forwards in time to find out if any later advances in the field may help him understand why he failed. An accident flings him many thousands of years into the future, where he finds that humanity has evolved far beyond his imagination.
Obviously I cannot comment on how closely this adheres to the book, but I look forward to finding out. I will say that I thought the period sets and costumes were well done, and I enjoyed the acting, although it will probably colour my reading of the book.
Most of the special effects were also quite clever; the time lapse sequences as Alexander moved back and forwards in time were particularly stunning. I loved the vox (a futuristic library interface) but don’t expect to find him in the book. His frequent references to pop culture created since 1899 are obviously not going to appear in the novel (unless H.G. Wells had a time machine of his own!) Sadly I found the Morlocks too puppetlike to be truly frightening, although Jeremy Irons’ Über-Morlock was fairly chilling.
Although the ending was satisfactory, it left many unanswered questions. For example, how on earth did the Eloi learn ‘the stone language’ (English) from a pile of fragmented plaques? I also found Alexander’s confrontation with the Über-Morlock particularly unsatisfying, with many more questions only half answered. Overall The Time Machine was a fairly stock-standard fantasy adventure, worth watching once, but probably not something I’d watch over and over again.