Fried Chicken And The Classification Of Time Travel Movies

07 Nov

The way Sarah Beckwith makes fried chicken is by hand and it’s got something to do with buttermilk.  I’ve seen various steps along the way in its preparation, but I think that my mind is only representing what I’m seeing in a manner that I can understand.  The chicken is prepared on some elevated level of existence.

This time, she went ahead and made pretzel dough by hand and then rolled up various cheese and ham and jalepeno into hot pretzel poppers.  There were two kinds of fried chicken, boneless and gargantuan chicken – or possibly turkey – legs. 

None of this has anything to do with time travel except we were at Jason and Sarah’s watching 12 Monkeys with Rob Braithwaite and an assortment of characters all assembled to watch a trilogy of movies with an apocalypse theme, and I hadn’t seen the movie in a while, and when it was over, we started talking about the various ways to classify time travel movies, the different kinds of them, different approaches to them.

When someone cooks me a fried chicken dinner, I like to thank them as loud as I can – this was obviously after all, the finest fried chicken that anyone is capable of serving up anywhere, to the best of my knowledge.  And when I sit around with a bunch of dudes discussing various ways to classify time travel movies, I like to get online and blog about it.

So, since I’m looking for stuff to write about, I’m going to try and classify them.  I’m just talking about movies just to narrow the field, so no television or books.  Any help is certainly appreciated.

For example, there are the kind of time travel movies that use machinery to travel through time – most of them, really – but there are also the kind where the time travel is not really explained much at all, like Peggy Sue Got Married and Groundhog’s Day. 

There are time travel movies in which they can travel to various times – 12 Monkeys is like that, so is Time Bandits.  And then there are time travel movies in which they travel to one other time and that’s it – Army of Darkness, Star Trek: First Contact, Timeline, Black Knight (you heard me).

In some time travel movies they know where they are going – they’re time traveling on purpose – like Star Trek: The Voyage Home, in which they were going back in time using the sun as a slingshot, to pick up a humpback whale, to bring it back to talk to the giant space dolphin earthquake stick.  Pretty simple. 

But sometimes they can’t control it like in The Time Traveler’s Wife.

And that’s where new time travel plots come from I think, different combinations of all those various features.  But the big distinction in time travel movies is whether or not you can change the past.  In some it’s just impossible, no matter what you do, that’s what happened the first time.

Then you have the big ones, like The Terminator and Back To The Future, in which you can just look at some stuff that happened in the past and if you don’t like it, you just go on back and deliberately change it – even though if you change it then you will have never gone back. 

I think a good way to think of movies like this is when you are playing a video game and you realize you’ve done something fundamentally wrong and you have to go back to a game saved before you started doing that horribly, fundamentally wrong thing.  These tend to be more popular movies because even when they are about evil robots coming back in time to kill us, the implication is, there is something we can do about it.

The other kind, it’s like they travel all over time just to get a really sharp, bird’s eye view of how horribly bad the character’s lives and worlds have gone wrong.  Really tragic stories, kind of pragmatic and cold.

When time travel movies use machines, they tend to be about as serious as their explanation for how the machine works.  Take The Terminator – they play that straight.   That blue lightning bolt technology from the first one was cutting edge at the time.   Obviously no time travel movies gives you a solid explanation of how it works, since as far as we know it can’t work, but the way they deliver it sets the tone.

The Flux Capacitor for instance – it’s just a thing like the combustion thing he invented, glossed over in manic, comical terms, so that’s how the movie is.  Manic, fun, cheerfully allowing itself to do whatever it wants.

Hot Tub Time Machine has probably my favorite mechanical time travel explanation ever.  I don’t want to spoil it for you.

I’ll keep this page fluid and update the different classifications over time.  Input is greatly appreciated.


One response to “Fried Chicken And The Classification Of Time Travel Movies

  1. Bill V

    November 7, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I agree with the hot tub movie as being the best.


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