The Front Row View: The Time Machine (1960)

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.

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In honor of this past weekend’s Daylight Savings Time, I’m paying tribute to George Pal’s classic 1960 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. The pleasant Australian actor Rod Taylor plays the Time Traveler as a man who is eager to delve into the mysteries of science, yet is conflicted over how Mankind has used the tools of science over the years. He is weary over the warmongering of his brothers and thinks that Man’s existence is precarious. Taylor is likeable, yet a certain melancholy hangs over him, as if he feels that Man is doomed to extinction no matter what he does. He time travels (in a beautifully-designed machine) to the year 802,701 and encounters the peaceful, childlike Eloi, a fair-haired people who appear to spend their days doing nothing more than eating and playing in an Eden-like future. The Time Traveler is hopeful at first. He grabs at the possibility that Man has progressed socially and scientifically, no longer having to worry about conflict, and is free to pursue his days relaxing under the sun. But then come the Morlocks. Anyone who saw this movie when they were young enough can tell you of their nightmares upon seeing these subterranean beasts. I won’t go into any more plot details, other than to tell you that The Time Machine is a diverting treat, full of adventure and captivating science fiction. Some of the Oscar-winning special effects have an antiquated charm (such as the “lava” used in the nuclear blast scene), but most of the others have aged very well (the sun streaking across the sky like a yo-yo, the mannequin dressing and undressing itself). It’s a good one to see for the whole family, but smaller children might find parts of it scary (Have I mentioned the Morlocks?). Other time travel movie recommendations: Nicholas Meyer’s 1979 Time After Time (H.G. Wells pursues Jack the Ripper in modern-day San Francisco) and, of course, Robert Zemeckis’ blockbuster Back to the Future trilogy.

-Jim

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