Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Sean Paul Murphy, Writer
Sean Paul Murphy, Writer

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Films Worth Seeing: Primer (2004)

(This is the second in a series of recommendations of worthy but little seen films.)


A group of four friends, who all work soul-deadening jobs during the week, work together on high-tech inventions at nights and on weekends hoping to find fame and fortune.  The lives of two of them change forever when they, quite inadvertently, invent a device that allows them to travel in time.

This is what independent film is all about, baby.  It was shot in Super 16mm for a budget of $5000.  Apparently, the filmmakers could only afford to do one take per shot and had to live with the results.  However, rather than hurting the film, the primitive production values give the film a semi-documentary feel.  Is there any scientific plausibility to the scenario?  I don't know.  I didn't understand the science behind it.  However, the characters did, and their informed conversations, which didn't dumb things don't for the audience, lent credibility.

I always enjoy time travel films because of the inherent paradoxes.  The two friends in this film are both very aware of the paradoxes too.  They know they can't let their invention falling into the wrong hands, and each of them slowly grows paranoid that their partner might be the one with the wrong hands.  Events soon grow out of control.

That said, I defy anyone to explain exactly what happens in this film.  This film has been frequently shown on Murphy family movie nights and led to lively discussions about the film and the nature of time itself.  However, I doubt even the filmmakers themselves can explain everything they portray adequately within the universe they invented.  That is not a knock against the film.  It is refreshing to find a film every once and while that gives you enough wiggle room to supply your own explanations.

Here is one hint:  The first time Abe tells Aaron about the machine's capabilities, he is wearing headphones.  They are already in the time loop.

You take it from there.

6 comments:

  1. Time travel films can be quite fun. Two of my favorites are the faith-based film "Time Changer" with David A.R. White, Hal Linden, Paul Rodriguez, Jennifer O'Neill and Gavin McLeod; and the foreign film "Time Crimes" with Karra Elejalde (Spain's answer to James Gandolfini) and Nacho Vigalondo (who also directed the film - he's kind of a Spanish Mark Ruffalo). The former upon first viewing may seem a bit corny but once you warm up to the fact that the character transported through time may very well react the way he does to modern life, it takes on a certain charm and humor. The latter is a wild meditation on the ramifications of getting yourself in deeper and deeper nased on how you react to a situation. Like "Primer," they are both low-budget endeavors. I recommend them both.

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  2. I'll have to check them out, Paul. Thanks.

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  3. Hey Sean - I need to correct myself - I accidentally typed David A.R. White when I meant to type D. David Morin! Although Mr. White is in a very brief blink and you'll miss it cameo in the background at the ice cream shop...

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  4. 喔!最悲慘的事並非夭折早逝,而是當我活到七十五歲,卻發現自己從未真正活過。.......................................................

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