Movies and Film

A Future That Could Still Happen – The Time Travelers (1964)

A group of scientists are doing what scientists often do – playing around with forces they should never have access to.  This time, it is time travel.  These scientists have crafted a machine that they hope will let them peer into other eras, not our own.  The machine of course, is far from perfect but after some tinkering they manage to bring up a vision on the screen of our planet some 100 or more odd years into the future.  The planet is barren looking and one guy notices that the screen kind of looks like it might be 3D.  Going to touch it, he notices that he can pass through it.  So why not go ahead and just jump into the future then, consequences be damned!  Which he does.  Soon the whole team eventually follows him in and the portal closes behind them as their machine is still faulty.  They soon meet up with the local inhabitants who seem to be some form of mutated human and while on the run from them, come into contact with some normal people who live underground.  The people underground are all that is left of normal humanity as their forefathers had the smarts to plan for such an occasion as world-wide nuclear war.  But the Earth cannot support the people for long, and thus a plan has been in the works to take them off the planet to the Alpha Centauri system where they hope to start the human race again.  But like any good sci-fi film, not everything goes according to plan.

Watching this film on a budget DVD compilation, the print must have been a little off as the colouring in some spots, especially the complexions of most of the cast was quite off.  Merry Anders, most of the time was a bright red colour.  Sometimes she was normal flesh-tone, but often she, and some of the others, were red as beets.  Strange for sure, but made the movie just a bit more enjoyable as it lent to that crazy science-fiction aspect of the feature.  The special effects, most especially when the mutants were tearing the androids apart, were quite good.  The whole movie felt reminiscent of an episode of the original Star Trek, and by swapping out the actors, it could have been.  That is not a bad thing either, because as a low-budget movie, it was put together really well and is one that could be easily watched again.  Also, the women of the future make use of a love machine – because there are just not enough men to go around.

The film, while obviously dated, was fun and captivating with a script and story by director Ib Melchior that was actually riveting.  The performances were also top-notch with Preston Foster, Philip Carey, Merry Anders and Jonn Hoyt turning what could have been something quite banal into a very engrossing little picture.  The interplay between the characters was quite good.  The questions of morality that were raised between the doctors from the past and Dr. Varno gave added depth to the script.  By weaving in various subjects like virtues, morals and consequences, it transformed this film from one of good guys versus bad guys into one of the human race as a whole with no delineations.  And while things might seem dated within and about the movie, questions about us as a people are not.

This film obviously also took a few queues from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine with the people who lived on the surface and those that lived underneath, though of course they both turned out quite different.  After all is said and done, the film stands as one of the better science-fiction films of the early 1960s due to its subject matter and strength of script.  Coupled with the great performances of all involved and the strong directing hand of Ib Melchior, it is a film that is highly recommended.

4.5 out of 5

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