Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I've seen the past and it's the future

We watched Primer on DVD the other night and the story has stuck in my mind. The film was nominated for an award at Cannes and is a very clever, downbeat, ingenious exploration of the concept of time travel and the butterfly effect: in its execution, almost like a forward-motion take on Memento. The really impressive element was that nothing was spelt out for the viewer and nothing was explained: you have to use your own intelligence to get to grips with what is happening.

The film centres on two would-be start-up millionaires experimenting in a garage, having clearly given up full time work in pursuit of their vision, who almost accidentally discover a way to project themselves back in time. What follows is a series of scenes, connected and, at first, seemingly unconnected, which play out the effect of their own attempts to harness the machine for their own purposes: from the banal, by futures trading on the stock market, to the dangerous, by interfering with the course of past events.

The film is shot in a determinedly low-key style with such naturalistic performances that it makes an implausible scenario seem quite believable and the outcome, or series of outcomes, entirely credible.

When the film, which seems much shorter than it actually was, came to an end, John and I sat there in silence for a while trying to puzzle things out. We can’t stop talking about it, thinking about it, and contemplating watching it again. Strangely I’ve been having trouble remembering the name of the film. I have been projecting myself back in time to watch myself watching the title coming up on the screen...

3 comments:

Claire said...

DVD only available in Region 1 format. Incredibly frustrating, as not only do I not have a compatible player, I would have to buy another TV compatible with a Region 1 player. Wonder whether there's some way of avoiding all the expense...

My sister suggests travelling to HK. How does this Saturday sound?!

PJ Miller said...
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PJ Miller said...

There is something called VLC that you download on your computer. I am told it will play region 1 DVDs. I have never tried it though.

http://www.videolan.org/vlc/