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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Human, romantic but less deep than the book, 24 Dec. 2003
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This review is from: The Time Machine [VHS] [2002] (VHS Tape)
This film is a very much enriched adaptation of the book by H.G. Wells. First it contains a romantic beginning and a voyage in the past to correct the death of the girlfriend of the hero. Unluckily you cannot change the past, you can only change the circumstances of events. But the main bulk of the film is of course going to the distant future, to see what the earth and humanity will be. It projects the tale in the book into thefinal episode of the book : the disappearance of the hero with his time machine. The film also changes the philosophical meaning of the book. In the book, humanity in the future is divided in two species, one living underground and working, the descendents of the working class, and one living on the surface on the luxuriant nature without having to work, the descendents of the bourgeoisie. In other words H.G. Wells invests darwinism into the schematic vision of the first industrial revolution and its class struggle. Unluckily in the future the working species hunts the non-working species who are their meat. In the film the same evolution is caused by a natural catastrophe : the disintegration of the moon and its falling onto the earth. We can note that the surface species has regressed to a primitive state and the underground species has become some kind of devilish industrial species that works to produce nothing, the slaves of their own underground pointless industry, some modern representation of the devil or hell. One point is common : this world has lost all connection with god, all religious dimension, and this future world is the result of some darwinistic evolution. It is the future of humanity after the death of God, though less clearly in the film than in the book. The rest you have to see by yourself. The special effects are quite good and they really look natural. The suspense of the film is also very strong. But I will regret two things : some of the technical points are a lot fuzzier than in the book, hence we have to accept a lot more unrealistic questionable points and I do not think H.G. Wells envisaged the idea of teaching the surface species how to fight : they were absolutely non-working and for them fighting was not even a concept they could imagine, invent or learn. In fact, and here the film is short, to fight you need to believe in some higher and stronger force that gives you the objective and energy to fight. This is often some religious representation of the group that justifies, hence sustains fighting against other groups. But this shortcoming reveals a shortcoming in the book : any living species will have a survival instinct and hence fighting will be natural, not something you learn like in the film, not something you ignore like in the book, something you know because of your hormones.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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