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
Lambert Wilson
Music by Brian Tyler
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by Richard Marks
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • November 26, 2003 (2003-11-26)
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.


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 runner disappears. The runner is then discovered, barely alive, by a man driving in the middle of a desert. The injured man utters 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, Chief security officer for TC 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 American students Kate Erickson (Frances O'Connor), Josh Stern (Ethan Embry), French student François Dontelle (Rossif Sutherland), and the Scottish archaeologist 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 Arnaut 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.

Prof. 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. Prof. Johnston needs to be rescued from the era. Chris, Kate and Marek talk François into going as their only competent French speaker, while Josh stays behind. Gordan and two marines provide security, but the chief has a secondary secret mission to assassinate someone. They don appropriate costumes and special necklaces, markers that, when pressed, will return them to the present. The only limitation is the markers only last six hours. Each marker has a timer installed, and when a marker lights with time remaining, a small energy pulse shows on a present-day display.

The group uses the machine to travel to the past and are promptly pursued by English riders. The two marines are killed. One, while dying, presses his marker home, but has a prohibited grenade, which damages the time machine when he is brought back. The remaining group escapes while André distracts the English. While hiding from the English knights, Marek runs into a French woman who he saves from being captured.

Marek is reunited with his friends and the woman leads them to a nearby town, where they start searching for the Prof. but the group is quickly captured by the English forces. They are taken to the leader of the English troops, Lord Oliver de Vannes (Michael Sheen) and his second in command, Sir William DeKere (Marton Csokas). When Lord Oliver learns that François is French, he insists their 'interpreter' translate "I am a spy" from French, kills him and throws the rest in an attic where the professor is being held. The professor goes on to explain he hid in a nearby monastery, left them a message for the present, but was captured anyway. The only reason he is alive is he managed to convince the English he is a scientist and promised Oliver a new weapon. They can't escape to the present because the markers only work with lots of free space around them.

Kate, the lightest person and best climber, sneaks out the roof and frees the others to fight their way out. The group again is split: Chris and Kate escaping, Marek going back for the French woman, while the professor and Gordan are recaptured. Sir DeKere 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 accuses Gordon of being there to kill him, stabbing the man to death.

Marek rescues the woman, who turns out to be Lady Claire, the woman who's hanging turns the tide of the battle and rallys the French to win. He upsets history by freeing her and returning her to her brother's safe keeping. The two develop feelings for each other. Claire's brother, Arnaut, is leader of the French troops and gives Marek a horse to go back for his friends. Marek is captured and taken to the battle with the professor.

Meanwhile Kate leads Chris, then Arnaut'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 Arnaut and Marek 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 ends up in the past without a marker, is cut down by a charging knight. Later, back at Castlegard, the three archaeologists read the sarcophagus inscription from Marek 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]

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.


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/

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