From Avengers: Endgame to Looper every fictional story about time travel has to do with one simple fact: time travel makes no sense. While aspects of time travel exist in the real world, such as when scientists stare deep into the far reaches of the universe and see what old stars looked – that’s not what Doc Brown was talking about Back to the future
In science fiction, time travel about physically transporting yourself to the past or the future – and then dealing with the consequences of those actions. And there is one underrated movie streaming on Amazon Prime that addresses these issues in a totally unique and amazing way.
The History of Time Travel is a fun film that emphasizes those consequences. Through the lens of a bogus documentary, it explores how one family is constantly wreaking havoc on the 20th century timeline. It’s a family saga mixed with a loving ode to time travel stories from the past, from HG Wells to Back to the future.
A note: The History of Time Travel used to be director Ricky Kennedy’s graduation film, and it really feels like that. Not that there is anything wrong with college films, but the lack of budget shows in the film’s settings, props, and performances. No one would confuse this with the History Channel documentaries it parodies. But like The long night, another zero-budget sci-fi movie streaming on Amazon Prime, History of time travel compensates for the lack of shine by leaning on aesthetics.
In front of Stretched out of the night, that was his creepiness. In front of History of time travel, it’s a genuine love for the subject – and a willingness to go crazy.
History is concerned with the saga of the Page family, which has shaped the time travel and the course of human history over two generations. It all starts with Patriarch Edward Page, a scientist who joins a secret World War II government project known as the Indiana Project. After the war is over, Page’s work consumes him, to the extent that he ignores his polio-stricken wife (credit where it must be: the film references a 1949 polio epidemic in Indiana what really happenedKennedy clearly likes details).
She dies, leaving behind a boy, Richard, who follows his father in physics and eventually builds a time machine after his own death with Edwards’s notebook. Using this time machine, which contains an old Atari game system, Richard starts new timeline after new timeline. The film illustrates this by having its documentary talking heads suddenly change their stories halfway through the interview.
It’s a nice gimmick that also plays out in the background of the movie. Slowly but surely, a globe in the background of an interviewee turns redder and redder, reflecting the Soviet Union’s growing dominance in the world thanks to their theft of the Page time machine. Portraits behind a military general change between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
As the Pages become more obsessed with correcting the mistakes of their new timelines, the changes in the movie become more extensive and complex. These changes are never really explored – what does a Soviet-dominated world look like after certain historical moments being changed? Everything seems pretty much the same throughout The History of Time Travel
That’s the challenge of time travel: the changes explored here are so great that getting into detail would make a story with a lot of plot even more confusing. But after an hour and ten minutes The History of Time Travel never wears out its welcome. There are fun alternate timelines, Easter eggs galore, and a family drama that brings it all together.
The History of Time Travel is streaming now on Amazon Prime in the U.S.