The Time Machine (1960 film)
|The Time Machine|
|Directed by||George Pal|
|Produced by||George Pal|
|Screenplay by||David Duncan|
|Based on||The Time Machine
by H. G. Wells
|Narrated by||Rod Taylor|
|Music by||Russell Garcia|
|Edited by||George Tomasini|
The Time Machine (also known promotionally as H. G. Wells' The Time Machine) is a 1960 British-American time travel science fiction film from MGM in Metrocolor, produced and directed by George Pal and starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, and Alan Young. The film is based on the 1895 novella of the same name by H. G. Wells that was hugely influential on the development of science fiction.
An inventor in Victorian England constructs a machine that enables him to travel into the distant future; once there, he discovers that mankind's descendants have divided into two species, the passive, child-like, and vegetarian Eloi and the underground-dwelling Morlocks, who feed on the Eloi.
George Pal, who had earlier made a film version of Wells' The War of the Worlds (1953), always intended to make a sequel to The Time Machine, but he died before it could be produced; the end of Time Machine: The Journey Back functions as a sequel of sorts. In 1985 elements of this film were incorporated into the documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal.
On January 5, 1900, four friends arrive for a dinner at the house of H. George Wells (Rod Taylor), an inventor. Their host is late and his housekeeper, Mrs. Watchet, has served dinner in his absence. Bedraggled and exhausted, George staggers in. He takes brief refreshment and begins to describe the strange experiences he has had since the last time the group met.
At the earlier dinner, on December 31, 1899, George describes time as "the fourth dimension" to David Filby (Alan Young), Dr. Philip Hillyer (Sebastian Cabot), Anthony Bridewell (Tom Helmore) and Walter Kemp (Whit Bissell). He shows them an intricate little machine which he describes as a 'model' of a larger one he is constructing to enable a person to travel in time. He places a guest's cigar in the miniature seat on the model and asks the guest to press a crystalline lever. The device disappears, apparently validating George's claim. His friends remain unconvinced, their reactions varying from curiosity to skepticism to frank dismissal.
George bids his guests and Mrs. Watchett a good evening, then heads downstairs to his laboratory where the full-size time machine awaits. George makes a few last-minute adjustments, then takes the seat and presses the lever. He moves forward through time, stopping 17 years into the future. There, on September 13, 1917, he meets Filby's son James, who tells him of Filby's death in the Great War. George, saddened, resumes his journey, stopping again at June 19, 1940. He finds himself in the midst of "a new war" and again resumes his journey. He stops again on August 18, 1966, to find his old neighbourhood in the midst of a futuristic metropolis. He is puzzled by the sight of people hurrying into a fallout shelter amid the blare of air raid sirens. An elderly James Filby urges him to seek shelter but George does not understand the technological terms he uses to explain the danger. Filby then recognises George, expresses surprise at his still youthful appearance, and runs off to the shelter. Nuclear explosions cause volcanic reactions. George restarts the machine in time to escape, but the lava cools and hardens. Now trapped inside a mountain, he is forced to travel far into the future until the topography changes.
Eventually the mountain erodes. George stops the machine on October 12, AD 802,701 near the base of a towering sphinx. The climate is idyllic. He goes exploring and finds a group of delicate but frolicsome young men and women in pastel clothing gathered at a stream. One woman, carried off by the current, screams for help but none of her companions show any concern. George dives in and rescues her. He is then surprised when, revived, she walks away without a word. Later, though, the woman seeks him out and gives him a flower. She identifies herself as Weena (Yvette Mimieux) and tells him her people are called the Eloi.
The Eloi, George soon learns, are vegetarians. They operate no machines, do no work, read no books, and know virtually nothing of history. They do not even understand fire.
George decides to go back only to discover that his time machine is gone. It appears to have been dragged into the hollow base of the sphinx. Convinced the Eloi could not have moved it, he asks Weena about it. Uncomfortable, she tells him of "Morlocks" who come out at night. A Morlock jumps out of the bushes and tries to drag Weena off, but the creature is unaccustomed to resistance and its night-sensitive eyes are blinded by fire. George quickly rescues her.
The next day Weena shows George one of the domed, well-like structures that dot the landscape. Inspection shows it to be an air shaft that doubles as a means of ingress and egress from chambers underground. She then takes him to an ancient museum where "talking rings" tell of a centuries-long nuclear war in the distant past. As a reduced human population fought for survival in the poisoned landscape, many decided to remain underground and expand the emergency shelters into permanent settlements; some decided to return to the surface and manage as best as they could there. This George realises, marked the beginning of speciation for the Morlocks and the Eloi. He starts to climb down a shaft but turns back when sirens blare from atop the sphinx and Weena disappears overhead. He emerges to find crowds of Eloi in a trance-like state entering the open doors of the base. The sirens stop and the doors close, trapping Weena and others inside.
George climbs down the air shaft again. He enters subterranean caverns filled with machines. He is horrified to discover that the Eloi serve as free range livestock to the cannibalistic Morlocks. He finds Weena in the crowd and begins fighting the Morlocks. His efforts inspire the Eloi, who begin to defend themselves. George sets a fire and urges the Eloi to clamber out of the cavern. Once at the surface, he directs the Eloi to gather dry tree branches and drop them down the shafts. Smoke billows out of the shafts and the subterranean cavern collapses.
The next morning George finds the sphinx in charred ruins. The doors are once again open. Now his time machine sits just inside the entrance. He realises the Morlocks intend this as a trap, but don't understand the machine or the means of escape it provides. He enters, the doors close behind him, and he is attacked in the dark by the remaining Morlocks. He sends the time machine into the past. Exhausted from the fight, he returns to January 5, 1900, where his time machine comes to rest on the lawn outside the laboratory. He meets his friends for dinner and relates the story.
George's friends are again skeptical. He produces a flower given to him by Weena. Filby, an amateur botanist, recognizes the species as completely unknown in the 19th century. George again bids his guests a good evening, and bids Filby an affectionate but solemn farewell. Filby steps out, but returns to find George and the machine missing. Filby notices tracks where Wells dragged the machine back to its original location before leaving so that he would be outside the sphinx building when he returned to the future. Filby and Wells' housekeeper then notice three books are missing from Wells' library, but are unsure of which ones. Filby asks her, "Which three would you have taken"? When Mrs. Watchett asks Filby if Wells will ever return, he simply notes that George has "all the time in the world" and they may meet each other again someday. Filby then locks up George's house and leaves to await his own fate.
- Rod Taylor as George (H. George Wells, as written on the time machine)
- Alan Young as David Filby/James Filby
- Yvette Mimieux as Weena
- Sebastian Cabot as Dr. Philip Hillyer
- Tom Helmore as Anthony Bridewell
- Whit Bissell as Walter Kemp
- Doris Lloyd as Mrs. Watchett
- Paul Frees (uncredited) as Voice of the Rings
- Cast notes
- Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux also co-starred in 1968's Dark of the Sun.
- Young and Mimieux are the only surviving primary cast members.
Home media releases
Released multiple times on Betamax and VHS video cassette, Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), and both letterbox and pan & scan LaserDisc, the film was released on DVD in October 2000 and on Blu-ray Disc in July 2014.
An original score CD was released in 1987. The track listing is as follows:
- Main Title / Credits
- London 1900 (Filby's Theme)
- Time Machine Model
- The Time Machine
- Quick Trip Into The Future
- All The Time In The World
- Beautiful Forest / The Great Hall
- Weena (Love Theme)
- End Title (Reprise)
- Fight With The Morlocks
- Time Traveler
- Prayer / Off Again
- Trapped In The Future
- Love And Time Return
- End Title
- Atlantis, The Lost Continent (Overture) - Main Title / Credits / Love Theme / Night Scene / Submarine / End Title
George Pal was already known for his pioneering work with stop-motion animation, having been nominated almost yearly for an Oscar during the 1940s. Unable to sell Hollywood on the concept of the film, he found MGM's British studio (where he had filmed Tom Thumb) open to his proposal.
The name of the film's main character—alluded to in dialogue only as "George"—connects him both with George Pal and the with the story's original science fiction writer H. G. (George) Wells.
Pal originally considered casting a middle-aged British actor like David Niven or James Mason as George. He later changed his mind and selected the younger Australian actor Rod Taylor to give the character a more athletic, idealistic dimension. It was Taylor's first lead role in a feature film.
MGM art director Bill Ferrari designed the time machine. Recognized today as a classic film property, Ferrari's machine suggested a sled made up of a large clockwork rotating disk. The disk rotated at various speeds to indicate movement through time, evoking both a spinning clock and a solar disk. In a meta-concept touch, a brass plate on the time machine's instrument display panel identified its inventor as "H. George Wells".
The charm of a fantastic technology (time travel), wrapped in the archaic guise of brass, rivets, Art nouveau arabesques, and crystal mechanisms, was one of influences on the later emergence of the steampunk genre. The depiction of Eloi in the film was one of the influences on the flower children later in the 1960s.
The live-action scenes were filmed from May 25 to June 30, 1959, in Culver City, California.
According to MGM records, the film earned $1,610,000 in the United States and Canada and $1 million elsewhere, turning a profit of $245,000.
The film had admissions of 363,915 in France.
Awards and honors
- Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Effects winner (1961) - Gene Warren and Tim Baar
- Hugo Award nomination (1961)
In 1993 a combination sequel-documentary short, Time Machine: The Journey Back, directed by Clyde Lucas, was produced. In its third section, Michael J. Fox talks about his experience with Time Machines from Back to the Future. In the final section, written by original screenwriter David Duncan, Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Whit Bissell reprized their roles.
- The Time Machine, a 2002 remake directed by Simon Wells and an uncredited Gore Verbinski, and starring Guy Pearce in the Taylor role.
- Time After Time, a 1979 science-fiction film in which H. G. Wells (played by Malcolm McDowell) travels to modern-day San Francisco in his time machine in pursuit of Jack the Ripper.
- "The Nerdvana Annihilation", episode of The Big Bang Theory in which the characters purchase the film's time machine.
- Quantum Leap episode "Future Boy" has a character who builds a time machine similar to that one used in the 1960 movie.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Vagg, Stephen, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010
- Vagg, Stephen (2010). Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood. Bear Manor Media. p. 64.
- French box office for 1961 at Box Office Story
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Time Machine (1960 film)|
- The Time Machine at the Internet Movie Database
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- The Time Machine at AllMovie
- The Time Machine at Rotten Tomatoes
- The Time Machine at the American Film Institute Catalog
- List of American films of 1960
- "Time Machine The Journey Back Official Website"
- Colemanzone.com: A tribute to the classic 1960 MGM movie The Time Machine
- The Time Machine - synopsis of film scenes
- Turner Classic Movies description
- Script (scifimoviepage.com)
- Cinematographic analysis of The Time Machine