Timeline (film)

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Timeline theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Donner
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner
Jim Van Wyck
Richard Donner
Screenplay by Jeff Maguire
George Nolfi
Based on Timeline by
Michael Crichton
Starring Paul Walker
Frances O'Connor
Gerard Butler
Billy Connolly
David Thewlis
Anna Friel
Neal McDonough
Matt Craven
Ethan Embry
Michael Sheen
Lambert Wilson
Marton Csokas
Rossif Sutherland
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Editing by Richard Marks
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates November 26, 2003
Running time 111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $80 million[1]
Box office $43,935,763[2]

Timeline is a 2003 science fiction adventure film directed by Richard Donner, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. A team of present-day archaeologists are sent back in time to rescue their professor from medieval France in the middle of a battle. It stars Paul Walker, Frances O'Connor, Gerard Butler, Billy Connolly, David Thewlis and Anna Friel among others.

Jerry Goldsmith composed the original score, which would have been his last before his death in 2004, but it was replaced with a new score by Brian Tyler, after the first cut was re-edited and Goldsmith's increasing health problems did not allow him to continue. The film was poorly received by critics and fans of the book and was a box office failure.

Plot details[edit]

A man is being chased through the forest by a pursuing knight. Just as the knight catches up to him and strikes the runner with his sword, the man disappears. The man is then discovered, barely alive, in the middle of a desert. he is able to utter a single word - Castlegard. He dies shortly after arriving at the hospital. A physician discovers a pendant around his neck with a logo from the ITC Corporation. The man's X-rays show his internal organs, veins and bones are strangely out of alignment. A short time later, an ITC Corporation employee, Frank Gordon (Neal McDonough) arrives and identifies the dead man as Vincent Traub. He takes the body away and the company covers the incident up.

Archaeology Prof. Edward Johnston (Billy Connolly) and students Kate Erickson (Frances O'Connor), Josh Stern (Ethan Embry), François Dontelle (Rossif Sutherland), and André Marek (Gerard Butler) have been sponsored by ITC to excavate the ruins of the village of Castlegard in France near LaRoque Castle; the village was burned in 1357 during the Hundred Years War during a massive battle. The hanging of Lady Claire (Anna Friel), the sister of Arnaud de Cervole, inspired the French to victory. Prof. Johnston's son, Chris (Paul Walker) is more infatuated with Kate than digging, until Marek shows him a sarcophagus of a French knight with a lopped ear, in an unusual position, holding hands with his lady beside for eternity.

Johnston suspects ITC involvement and flies to their headquarters in New Mexico. A few days later the team discovers a plea for help on a 600-year-old parchment, written by the professor. They find one of his bifocal glasses lens nearby, also 600 years old. Chris calls ITC asking for his father; they promise to explain everything in New Mexico. ITC president Robert Doniger (David Thewlis) and vice-president Steven Kramer (Matt Craven) show the students a teleportation device to transport anyone, via a wormhole, to Castlegard in 1357. Johnston needs to be rescued from the era. Chris, Kate and André talk François into going as their only competent French speaker. Three marines provide security, but the chief has a secondary secret mission to assassinate someone. They don appropriate costumes and special subdermal markers that, when pressed, will return them to the present. The only limitation is the markers only last six hours. When a marker lights with time remaining, a small energy pulse shows on present-day display.

The group lands in the middle of a rushing river, and are then pursued by English riders. Two of the marines are killed. One, while dying, presses his marker home, but has a forbidden grenade, which damages the time machine when he is brought back. Claire reunites with her brother Arnaud (Lambert Wilson) temporarily, but English forces take the others to Lord Oliver de Vannes (Michael Sheen). He insists their interpreter translate "I am a spy" from French, kills François and throws them in an attic where the professor is being held.

Kate, the lightest person and best climber, sneaks out the roof and frees the others to fight their way out. Sir William DeKere (Marton Csokas) reveals his identity as former ITC employee William Decker, body ravaged by repeated time travel. ITC hid the fact that the machine damaged DNA and internal organs. Decker takes their markers and kills the chief, Frank Gordon. He explains that one marker is enough to take them all back, but they have to stay alive, and gather in a clear area with nothing within 30 feet. André again rescues Claire, foiling history. They fall in love, as do Chris and Kate. Kate leads Chris, then Arnaud's troops, to the monastery's secret underground tunnel beneath LaRoque Castle. They need to turn the battle in favor of the French, as it was in the original history. Lord Oliver captures Claire but is killed by Arnaud, and André is attacked by DeKere who cuts his ear off. Realizing he is the knight buried in the sarcophagus empowers him to kill DeKere and send the others off to a clear field for travel back home.

In the present, Josh and Kramer repair the machine despite Doniger's eagerness to write off the loss of lives for greater scientific good. Doniger runs into the transmit area while the others return, but in France without a marker, is cut down by a charging knight. Later, back at Castlegard, the three archaeologists read the sarcophagus inscription from André and Claire, detailing three children, Christophe, Katherine, François, and a full joyous life together.



The battle sequences used medieval reenactors. Richard Donner limited the use of CGI in the film as much as possible.[3]

The movie's crew visited various European castles from the late 14th century to make the castles and towns look realistic.[citation needed]

Composer Jerry Goldsmith had his score replaced by Brian Tyler's score, because of the changes in the final cut of the film.[4] However, both Goldsmith and Tyler's scores were released on CD.

The character Robert Doniger was named after Harriet Jacobs Doniger, a teacher of Crichton's daughter.[citation needed]

The filming took place in the Laurentian Mountains and Eastern Townships regions of Quebec near Montreal, Also, in the city of Mascouche (approx. 30 km (19 mi) north of Montreal). Castelgard and other settings from the book where recreated there.[citation needed]


Timeline was panned by most critics and did poorly at the box office, only recouping $43 million worldwide from a budget of $80 million. The film also received a 12% fresh rating on film website Rotten Tomatoes based on 139 reviews, stating that this "incoherently plotted addition to the time-travel genre looks and sounds cheesy".[5]


  1. ^ "Timeline". 
  2. ^ "Timeline". 
  3. ^ Paul (July 12, 2002). "Donner Shuns CG Effects in Timeline". IGN. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  4. ^ Timeline soundtrack review at Filmtracks.com
  5. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/timeline/

External links[edit]