Monday, April 25, 2005

Timeline

cast:
Paul Walker
Frances O'Connor
Gerard Butler
Anna Friel

i was planning on reviewing “dangerous minds” since i thought it was fitting to this website, but after frustratingly scouring countless video stores and not finding said movie, i settled for the next best thing: buying a cheap, on sale video that costs 75 philippine pesos (approx: $1.38 u.s. as of this writing).

and i guess it’s true what they say: that “the best things in life are free”; or in this case, they're cheap.

the movie tells about a group of archeologists who time-travel to the past in order to retrieve their boss who somehow got stuck there. it tells about how the past (unlike the future) is already set and therefore cannot be changed nor altered.

at the beginning of the film and at a present day setting, chris johnston (paul walker), son of the head of a team of archeologists who are doing some excavation in what used to be castlegard, france expresses his apathy towards the work of his father’s crew cause they simply deal with the past. why bother with what’s dead and gone? why not let sleeping dogs lie?

(from this point on, this review will contain spoilers so if you think you’d rather watch the film first, then feel free to bookmark this site so you can come back to it later.)

andre marek (gerard butler), one of the archeologists, defends his work by bringing chris to one of the dig’s discoveries: a man and woman stuck together in death. (i guess the expression “till death do us part” did not apply to them.) then marek points out that the right ear of the man was nowhere to be found. at this instance, chris’ curiosity was aroused. and this, marek concludes, exemplifies the drama, the intrigue and even the romance of the past. a time where people could have possibly been more noble, where people might have no qualms about dying for their beliefs, where valor might have been a common trait for men, women and maybe even children.

unknowingly to both of them, the man with the severed ear would turn out to be marek himself as a result of their visit (or in the case of marek, a permanent visit) to the past.

the film is both educational and thought-provoking (a term i have been using too often these days) as it has the historic hundred years war as part of its setting; a time when the british were trying to protect their territories in france. to be more precise, it was april 4, 1357 in castlegard, france, a day that will end in the fall of la roque, a fortified castle that was currently in the hands of the british.

we know that the hundred years war did happen but i’m not sure if michael crichton (the author of the book from which the movie was based upon) simply invented the april 4 battle, or whether castlegard and la roque where just products of his imagination. after all, my non-extensive and lackadaisical research did not prove nor disprove the occurrence of the events of that day; nor did it affirm nor deny the existence of such places. what can i say, i’m a lousy researcher.

but the mere fact that i was moved to do some research – fruitless though it may have been – goes a long way in attempting to educate potential viewers. researching out of one’s own accord is the ultimate education. trying to gather facts when no one is forcing you to do so, when no one is grading you, or keeping tab of your performance and progress, that is the highest form of learning. if a teacher is able to inspire a student to continue learning long after he or she has finished his or her studies, to gain knowledge not just for the sole purpose of advancing one’s career; but to instill the thirst and joy of reading, cybersurfing, debating, the exchanging of different ideas, philosophies, cultures and religions, that is a teacher who stands true to his or her vocation.

but going back to the movie, everything would have been perfect if not for a certain flaw. and i’m really hoping that i’m wrong and i only mistook it for a flaw.

the theme of the movie, like i mentioned earlier, is that the past is set and cannot be changed. thus, when marek saw a dead but somehow preserved carcass that he was not aware belonged to him, no character from the movie can change the fact that marek would die in the past. same thing when another archeologist, kate ericson (frances o’connor) was appalled by the desecration of a certain engraved/sculptured art form, and realizing during her travel to the past that she would be the one responsible for this desecration, accepts that the past cannot be changed, that that particular art form had to be ruined, even if by her own hand. for in not doing so, the french will be refused access to the secret tunnel that will lead them to la roque, and consequently prevent them from gaining victory.

the seemingly innocuous flaw is that during the present 20th century, the archeologists were well aware that a certain lady claire (anna friel) would be killed by the british and this was a major turning point of the battle cause it was lady claire’s death that rallied the french troops to victory. but when the archeologists traveled to the past, marek was able to prevent lady clair’s death. granted, the french still won the battle of la roque. but their foreknowledge of lady claire’s death cast a tinge of doubt in the supposed immutability of the events of the past ………

to prevent what could possibly be (and may already have been) a very long and dragging review, i will go for an anti-climactic ending and abruptly shut up.


rating: 5 of 5 stars * * * * *
with a potential flaw and all, and a cast of relatively unknown actors notwithstanding, this movie can stir even the most jaded moviegoer.

4 comments:

rob said...

I was a bit disappointed with the book. Maybe the movie was better, I'll have to watch this. I liked it that you mentioned the film was educational, similar to the way Crichton approaches his novels.

roehl said...

how could you be disappointed with the book???? timeline is my favorite crichton book of all time! he will never write a book as sincere and as moving as this one.

rob said...

The book started with promise, but got boring in the second half during the medieval part. I liked the quantum mechanics aspect.

The Marek character was probably more interesting in the movie because in the book I just couldn't believe that he would stay behind in the past. Also, I don't like the way they treated Doniger (?) who I guess is the villain. I kind of liked the guy, I thought the book treated him too harshly and that he was a misunderstood character.

My favorite Crichton novel of all time is 'Eaters of the Dead' (which was made into a movie 'The 13th Warrior), followed by 'Rising Sun' and 'Disclosure'.

rmacapobre said...

> timeline

i like this movie for its historical and scifi parts. the only flaw for me would be sending a frenchman back in time in the middle of the war.

> eaters of the dead

i saw the movie and read the book. no contest. the book was definitely better in terms of substance and entertainment value.