The Time Traveler's Wife (film)

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The Time Traveler's Wife
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Schwentke
Screenplay byBruce Joel Rubin
Based onThe Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Produced by
CinematographyFlorian Ballhaus
Edited byThom Noble
Music byMychael Danna
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
August 14, 2009 (2009-08-14)
Running time
107 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$39 million[1]
Box office$101.3 million[1]

The Time Traveler's Wife is a 2009 American romantic science fiction drama film based on Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel of the same name.[2] Directed by Robert Schwentke, the film stars Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams, and Ron Livingston. The story follows Henry DeTamble (Bana), a Chicago librarian with a paranormal genetic disorder that causes him to randomly time travel as he tries to build a romantic relationship with Clare Abshire (McAdams), whom he meets as a child and who later becomes his wife.[3]

Filming began in September 2007, originally in anticipation of an autumn 2008 release. The film's release was postponed with initially no official explanation from the studio.[4] McAdams later noted that the delay was due to additional scenes and reshoots that could not be completed until the season at their outdoor location matched previously filmed footage, and Bana had regrown his hair following his work on the 2009 film Star Trek.[5][6] Produced by New Line Cinema, the film was released on August 14, 2009, by Warner Bros. Pictures to mixed reviews but was a commercial success.[7]


In the early 1970s, Henry DeTamble is in a car accident that kills his mother, Annette DeTamble, but which he survives by inadvertently time traveling back two weeks. Moments later, Henry is helped by an older version of himself who has also traveled back. Unable to control the timing or destinations of his traveling, Henry finds himself drawn to significant people, places, and events in his life but is incapable of changing events beyond the minor differences his presence creates.

In 1991, Henry meets Clare Abshire in the library where he works. She is overjoyed to see him although he is meeting her for the first time. Clare explains that she met Henry's future self when she was a child, and that he informed her then that they would meet in the future, which is happening now. As a child, Clare develops a crush on Henry, and she is upset to learn that he is married. When Clare turns 18, two years before their meeting at the library, the older Henry kisses her, leading her to realize that he is her husband in the future. They begin a relationship, which is challenged by Henry's disorder.

His sporadic time traveling is further complicated by the fact that he arrives at his destinations completely naked. From an early age, he had learned how to pick locks and to steal clothing to endure his travels. Among his getaways are many visits to young Clare. From present-day Clare's diary, he gets a list of dates when he visited her and gives those to young Clare so that she can be waiting for him with clothes. Clare eventually marries Henry. Henry time travels away before the ceremony and a visibly older version of himself arrives in time to step in.

Henry's disappearances take a toll on his relationship with Clare. To make up for this, Henry buys a winning lottery ticket due to having the numbers in advance, but their relationship still has problems. Henry and Clare witness a middle-aged wounded Henry briefly arrive from another time, leaving them concerned about how long Henry must live. His disorder also makes having a child with Clare seemingly impossible, as Henry's genes cause their unborn fetuses to time travel. They seek a renowned doctor's help, but after numerous similar miscarriages, Henry has a secret vasectomy to end their suffering. However, soon after, Clare gets pregnant one last time—by a visiting younger version of Henry—and carries the baby to full term. Before the child is born, Henry travels forward in time and happily meets their pre-teen daughter, Alba. She tells him that she is a time traveler, too, but has increasing control over when and where she travels. Alba tells Henry that he will die when she is five years old, a fact that Henry subsequently hides from Clare.

Alba's pre-teen self, who ultimately tries to prepare her younger self for Henry's death, visits young Alba sporadically. During Alba's fifth birthday party with family and friends, Clare is devastated to discover Henry's impending death. Later, after suffering from severe frostbite from a time jump gone wrong and temporarily using a wheelchair, Henry time travels again and is accidentally shot by Clare's father, who is hunting elk. Henry returns in time to die in Clare's arms. Some years later, a younger Henry visits Alba and Clare, giving Clare hope that he will visit again, though he tells her not to spend her life waiting for him, hoping this encounter would provide a proper closure for Clare and Alba.


In addition, Fiona Reid, Philip Craig, Maggie Castle and Brian Bisson play Clare's parents and siblings, respectively. The wedding band is played by Broken Social Scene.


The film rights for Audrey Niffenegger's 2003 novel The Time Traveler's Wife were optioned by Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment, in association with New Line Cinema, before the work was even published.[8] Niffenegger stated in an interview that as she was writing the book, she had thoughts of how a film version of the book would appear.[9] When asked about the prospect of her novel being turned into a film, Niffenegger said, "I've got my little movie that runs in my head. And I'm kind of afraid that will be changed or wiped out by what somebody else might do with it. And it is sort of thrilling and creepy, because now the characters have an existence apart from me."[10]

In September 2003, the studio hired screenwriter Jeremy Leven to write an adapted screenplay of the novel.[11] Directors Steven Spielberg and David Fincher briefly expressed interest in the project, though no negotiations took place.[12] In March 2005, director Gus Van Sant entered negotiations with the studio to helm the project.[13] The negotiations did not hold, and in November 2006, director Robert Schwentke was instead hired to take over the project.[12]

In January 2007, New Line hired screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin to rewrite Leven's script.[8] Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams were cast in April 2007.[3] Filming began in Toronto on September 10, 2007.[14] It was also shot in Hamilton, Ontario.[15] The film was originally planned for a fall 2008 release, but it was postponed with no official explanation from the studio.[4] When asked about the delay, McAdams said, "We wound up doing a reshoot, and Eric was the holdup … He had to shave his head for a different role, for Star Trek, I think … We did an additional scene in the meadow, so we were also waiting on the meadow to look the way it did [the first time we shot]. So we were waiting on the seasons. Basically we were waiting on nature and Eric's hair."[5] The film was released by Warner Bros. on August 14, 2009.[7][16]


The score to The Time Traveler's Wife was composed by Mychael Danna, who recorded his score with the Hollywood Studio Symphony at the Ocean Way Studios during the fall of 2008.[17] The movie repeatedly features the musical theme of an old German hymn, "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen", whose familiar harmonization was written by German composer Michael Praetorius. This is heard just prior to the early car accident, is played at holiday gatherings, and is otherwise interwoven into the score. The trailer featured the song "Broken", by Lifehouse, which is in the film and the promotional music video. A television commercial for the film featured the song "Show Me What I'm Looking For", by Carolina Liar, although it was not included within the soundtrack. The film also features a cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart", performed by Canadian indie rock band Broken Social Scene.

The official motion picture soundtrack was released as a download on August 11, 2009, by New Line Records. A CD version was released by Decca Records, but is generally only available from vendors outside the United States.


The Time Traveler's Wife (Music from the Motion Picture)
Soundtrack album (Digital download) by
Mychael Danna
ReleasedAugust 11, 2009
LabelNew Line Records
Professional ratings
Review scores

All music is composed by Mychael Danna

The Time Traveler's Wife (Music From the Motion Picture)
No.TitleWriter(s)Original artist(s)Length
1."Es ist ein Ros entsprungen" (performed by Isabel Bayrakdarian)  0:51
2."I'm You Henry"  2:30
3."Meadow"  3:19
4."How Does It Feel?"  1:59
5."Diary"  1:21
6."Train"  1:43
7."I Don't Feel Alone Anymore"  2:22
8."Love Will Tear Us Apart"Broken Social Scene4:44
9."Married to Me"  1:04
10."Home"  1:36
11."Do You Know When?"  2:09
12."Testing"  1:04
13."Alba"  2:33
14."I Never Had a Choice"  2:58
15."Who Would Want That"  2:29
16."I Left Him Sleeping"  1:30
17."It's a Girl"  2:58
18."Five Years"  2:03
19."Try to Stay"  1:40
20."New Year's Eve"  1:55
21."No Tracks in the Snow"  1:48
22."See You Again"  5:42
23."Broken"Jason WadeLifehouse4:47
Total length:55:02

Additional songs[edit]

There were three songs appearing in the film, but not included with the release of the soundtrack.


Critical response[edit]

The book's author stated back in 2009 that she had no intention of watching the film.[19] The film has received mixed reviews from critics for the same reasons as the novel, praising the characterization of the couple, applauding their emotional depth; others criticized the melodramatic style and the plot as emotionally trite.[20] Based on 158 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, The Time Traveler's Wife has a 39% approval rating from critics, with an average score of 5.10/10. The consensus reads, "Though it may satisfy fans of the novel, The Time Traveler's Wife's plot's contrivances and illogical narrative hamper its big screen effectiveness".[21] Metacritic, another review aggregator which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film an average score of 45 based on 26 reviews.[20]

Box office[edit]

The film opened third behind District 9 and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, grossing $19.2 million on its opening weekend.[22]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 9, 2010, by New Line Home Entertainment. This is the last film to be distributed on DVD by itself. After this release, New Line films began to be distributed on home media by Warner Home Video, which absorbed New Line Home Entertainment in 2010, after New Line was absorbed by Warner Bros. in 2008.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Time Traveler's Wife (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 21, 2010.
  2. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (August 21, 2009). "Movie Review: The Time Traveler's Wife". Entertainment Weekly. #1061/1062. p. 94. Retrieved August 18, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Michael Fleming; Dave McNary (April 17, 2007). "New Line finds its cast on 'Time'". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Justin Strout (January 7, 2009). "Beyond The Cape". San Antonio Current. Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  5. ^ a b Fred Topel (March 27, 2009). "How Eric Bana's shaved Trek head held up Time Traveler's Wife". Sci Fi Wire. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  6. ^ Valby, Karen (April 24, 2009). "Spotlight on Rachel McAdams". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 5, 2008.
  7. ^ a b Sciretta, Peter (2009-03-12). "The Time Traveler's Wife Will Finally See Release in August". /Film. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  8. ^ a b McNary, Dave (January 2, 2007). "Rubin rewriting Time". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  9. ^ "Interview: Audrey Niffenegger". Chicagoist. May 9, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-28. Retrieved September 13, 2007.
  10. ^ James Cowan, "Niffenegger's first book, and it's about time", National Post (December 3, 2003). LexisNexis (subscription required). Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  11. ^ Michael Fleming (September 7, 2003). "Feud for thought". Variety. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  12. ^ a b Borys Kit; Nicole Sperling (November 1, 2006). "Schwentke finds time for NL's 'Wife'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on November 8, 2006. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  13. ^ "Van Sant Helming Time Traveler's Wife". March 17, 2005. Retrieved April 18, 2007.
  14. ^ "Domestic film: In production". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  15. ^ "Internet Movie Database – List of Films shot in Hamilton, Ontario". IMDb. Retrieved January 25, 2008.
  16. ^ Carl DiOrio, "Warners moves up 'Traveler's", The Hollywood Reporter (March 16, 2009). Retrieved May 4, 2009.
  17. ^ Dan Goldwasser (December 9, 2008). "Mychael Danna scores The Time Traveler's Wife". Retrieved December 10, 2008.
  18. ^ Clemmensen, Christian. "The Time Taveler's Wife". Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  19. ^ "Ghost Writer". ProQuest. ProQuest 231220480.
  20. ^ a b "The Time Traveler's Wife (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 1, 2024.
  21. ^ "The Time Traveler's Wife Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 7, 2023.
  22. ^ Young, John (August 16, 2009). "Box Office Report: District 9 conquers competition with $37 million". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2009-08-19. Retrieved August 16, 2009.
  23. ^ ASIN B001HN69C2, The Time Traveler's Wife (2009)

External links[edit]