Making the Grades
We all have one -- a moment in the past we wish we could change. But few of us have the capability to do so, or the foresight to see how our lives would be altered if it were possible.
For Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce), the power to rewrite recent history seems to lie within his grasp. Driven by a personal tragedy involving a friend (Sienna Guillory), the New York professor holes himself up in his lab despite the wishes of his motherly housekeeper (Phyllida Law). Working feverishly, he constructs a machine that will turn back the hands of time. While his friend, Dr. Philby (Mark Addy), attempts to coax him back into society, the avid inventor tightens the last gadget on his futuristic creation and prepares for the journey of a lifetime.
But when the plan fails, he heads into the future in search of an answer. Traveling from the 1890s, he makes brief stops in the 21st century before landing 800,000 years from his starting point. There he discovers two tribal civilizations evolved from a ruined culture. Living in underground caverns, the Morlocks are a hideous race of creatures that venture only briefly outside of their dark world. The surface-dwelling Eloi are a laid-back human-like people who live off the land and have no interest in their past, or hope for the future.
Taken in by Mara, the clan's teacher (Samantha Mumba), and her brother Kalen (Omero Mumba), Hartdegen begins to uncover a dark secret that threatens the survival of both groups and makes him question the fate of the Earth.
This latest adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells novel differs in setting and storyline from the 1960 film version, but still questions mankind's ability to successful navigate the future. Although it contains some intense and graphic violence between feuding factions, this film focuses more on the fallout of scientific discovery and the results of man pushing the limits of his curiosity.
While the ability to change the past is limited, The Time Machine lets teens and parents explore their capacity to influence the future, even without a glitzy mode of transportation.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Time Machine (2002).
The Eloi have “no knowledge of the past and no ambition for the future”. How important is it for society to learn from the mistakes and successes of history? How can that help us make wiser decisions?
Alexander Hartdegen couldn’t accept what happened in the park. How did that affect the rest of his life? When should we accept things that have happened to us and move on, and when should we fight to make things better? Do you think his decision to build the time machine was an improvement or detriment to future generations?
Is there something in your past that you wish you could change? How do you think it would impact your life now or even your future?
Futuristic movies and television shows often portray people dressed in spandex-like body suits (think Star Trek, etc.). Considering how fashion trends tend to repeat, do you think our society will ever adopt that type of clothing? When were the fashions you are currently wearing popular?