However impracticable, history has been obsessed with time travel since time began itself. With evidence going as far back as 700BC with the Mahabharata, an ancient document that tells the story of time traveling worlds all while blurring the lines between the then and the now. But it was H.G Wells and The Time Machine that really kicked things off, introducing time travel and science fiction to the masses.
Literature, radio, television and Hollywood have all since gotten involved, creating some of the most memorable and fascinating images we could ever hope to imagine. ‘If only we could turn back time’, a phrase so often recited. But why? What’s the obsession in wishing we could redo history? Why are we so eager to turn around and repeat the same thing twice? Sure, it would be extremely helpful, saving us from those embarrassing moments that are so ingrained into our brains. Imagine the thrill of being able to experience Victorian London and revealing the face of Jack the Ripper. What about spending more time with a loved one before they passed away? Or even making the most of a missed opportunity, better yet creating a whole new one. Time travel is as fascinating as fascinating gets making it all the more heart wrenching that we can’t actually explore it.
So to the question on everybody’s lips, is it even possible? Theorists have argued, researched and conjured up their own explanations with pictures constantly unearthed said to prove time travel really exists. However, still, in the 21st century we have yet to build a time machine, our own personal Tardis or discovered worm hole to another dimension. So sadly, while we wait, we must watch. Using the silver screen to help unravel our deepest and darkest fantasies. Here are 15 of the best movies about time travel.
15. Donnie Darko
Famous for being somewhat difficult to wrap your head around. Even the film’s director Richard Kelly had some trouble understanding, going as far as releasing a ‘director’s cut’ to clear things up a bit. However no matter how completely bat sh*t it may be it is still by far one hell of a ride with an excellent cast to boot, with Jake Gyllenhaal as the super intense and ridiculously smart teenage high school student and a final act for Patrick Swayze. Donnie Darko explores a number of genres blasting into an imaginative realm of time travel crossed with a psychiatric hellhole and an alternative universe. You will never look at bunnies the same way again.
14. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Although The Terminator is a stand out movie, it is the sequel that surprisingly outweighs its predecessor. With James Cameron giving an audience something they have never really seen before, Terminator 2 introduces folks to the concept of a technology takeover. Yet only this time, it doesn’t feel so far away. Not only does it have a killer plot and Arnold Schwarzenegger totally owning it as the leather clad motorcycle-riding time traveler, it is Linda Hamilton that truly steals the limelight as the ass-kicking female heroine, saving the world like every other guy did before her. A film that really kick started the reboot into modern science fiction, Terminator 2 is a classic from start to finish.
13. About Time
With time travel so often seen as a force of nature urged to use for the savior of mankind. It is easy to forget how one would actually react upon finding out that you can suddenly travel through time. Therefore standing in a broom cupboard, closing your eyes and scrunching up your hands seems just about right, and that’s exactly what Domhnall Gleeson does as he learns from his father a family secret that will change his life forever. Closer to home than most time travel explorations, About Time captures a unique sense of time travel for the everyday folk, mere mortals of you and me, making it that much more realistic and maybe just maybe all the more true….
12. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
What would you do if you had the chance to meet Napoleon, Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid and Socrates? Form a rock band of course! Sporting a young and much cuter Keanu Reeves, Bill and Ted and their magical time traveling phone box embark on a rock revolution all while falling in love and creating a number of catchphrases. For some it is just another Hollywood filler, for others it’s a history lesson lauded with sentimentality and popular culture. We certainly choose the latter. Excellent!
11. Midnight In Paris
Fed up of churning out the same old Hollywood drivel, Writer Gil, played by Owen Wilson, visits France with his fiancé and the intent of sparking a creative boost. However not only does he find what he’s looking for but also gets to live it, travelling back to 1920’s Paris on the stroke of midnight in the form of a vintage Peugeot Type 176. Escapism at its very best, Midnight in Paris not only makes you incredibly envious that Gil gets to hang out with literary gods such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald but also reinforces the incredibly sad feeling that it didn’t happen to you.
10. Time Bandits
If time travel is ever proven to exist then you can bet your money that Terry Gilliam had already known or at least had something to do with it. Cut from the same cloth as Bill and Ted, Time Bandits explores a much more sinister side that could only ever come from Gilliam himself. Seen through the eyes of 11-year-old Kevin, the plot embarks on a journey between good, evil and a Pythonesque John Cleese, in the dashing form of Robin Hood. Soaked head to toe in nostalgia, Time Bandits is a must watch for those who want to remember how to feel like a kid again.
One of the most recent time travelling yarns that has managed to get it right, Looper is a thrilling ride from start to finish. Set in a future world where time travel is only available to the outlaws of society and bought on the black market, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis strangely play convincing versions of the same guy. Confused? Yeah well it gets even crazier, with the timeline jumping from 2044 to 2074 and a whole lot of whooshing and whirling to go with it. Yet however puzzling it may be, Looper is still thoroughly entertaining to watch firmly cementing itself into a genre that is so easy to get wrong.
8. Groundhog Day
Starring Bill Murray as the grumpy and unhappy Phil Connors, Groundhog Day totally reverses the idealistic dream of time travel we all so often believe it to be. With Murray stuck in a mundane time warp in which he repeats the same day over and over again, traveling through time has never looked so unappealing. Often regarded as one of the best comedies ever it is hard to understand how when the movie basically just relives the same day over and over again. Yet somehow it works, stripping back the magic and presenting an alternate possibility to the glitz and glam of Science Fiction.
7. Time After Time
Inspired by the bible of time travel, The Time Machine, Time After Time has H.G Wells playing himself as the hero of the movie and in the all mighty form of Malcolm McDowell. Building a time machine intended for himself, Wells suddenly finds that the one and only notorious Jack the Ripper has used it instead, escaping from Victorian London intent on a distant world. The future this time being San Francisco in 1979, Wells gives chase, following the Ripper and enlisting the help from one Mary Steenburgen. Cute, sweet and amazingly entertaining, Time After Time is a great little movie that has only continued to get better with time.
Orlando is based on Virginia Woolf’s classic where the main character, Orlando, goes from one era to the next changing times and genders. Beginning in the Elizabethan era and ending in the so-called present day, Orlando breaks free from the misconceptions of sexuality along with the limitations of class. By crossing paths with time, the movie gets really into depth with the concept of sexuality.
Confusing the minds of many yet at the same time fascinating audiences worldwide, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is as epic as time travel can just about get. With earth fading away and slowly turning into one big dust bowl, Matthew McConaughey is sent through a wormhole across the galaxy to find a planet that will act as the ‘new earth’. Obviously things don’t go as smoothly as McConaughey would have hoped for, however it does give Nolan a chance to shine putting into perspective how tiny our world actually is. Displaying an ending that will have you scratching your head for weeks, Interstellar is just as beautifully shot as it is ridiculously hard for us non science people to comprehend.
4. Planet Of The Apes
A franchise that has spawned a catalog of movies and remakes, it is Planet of the Apes that really makes you gasp especially with that ending! Following a group of astronauts who have crashed landed on a strange planet in the distant future only to find that you guessed it, it is a planet of apes. With the apes assuming the roles of humans like back on earth, the crew are redeemed as aliens and treated as such. Groundbreaking at the time and very well received, the movie has one of the best plot twists in cinematic history. Honestly, that ending!
3. The Time Machine
When H.G Wells released the time travelling classic The Time Machine in 1865, the book understandably inspired a number of movies all trying to capture the spark that the novel had created. A book that had coined the invention of the ‘time machine’ all while introducing audiences to an idea that they had never really been exposed to before, it was obvious that Hollywood was going to try and ride that wave. The best, however, was the 1960 UK release that depicted the Victorian mish mash of time travel and distant worlds perfectly. Wowing audiences worldwide, the movie even won an Academy Award for time lapse photographic effects. An all time classic.
2. 12 Monkeys
It is no surprise to see master of the universe Terry Gilliam appear once more and what better than with this gem of an ultimate post-apocalyptic survival. Loosely inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetée (another must see), 12 Monkeys jumps forward to 2025 exploring a world that has been destroyed by disease from a deadly virus. Forcing survivors to live underground, Bruce Willis is sent back in time to collect information and ultimately save the world. Obviously not going as smoothly as he would like, the plot has more twists and turns than a roller-coaster through space. Loopy and a little creepy at times, 12 Monkeys is probably Gilliam’s crowning achievement.
1. Back To The Future
Great Scott! With a trilogy that graces us with three movies all as decent as the next, it is the first that really has to be rewarded. Creating characters that will forever go down in film history, Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd will ALWAYS be Marty McFly and Doc, no matter what they went on to achieve next. An all time classic, Back to the Future pulls at your heartstrings all while subjecting to the world to a variety of in jokes and product placement. With hover-boards, self-fastening sneakers and flying cars all appearing on Christmas lists everywhere, Back to the Future will forever remain as a nostalgic wet dream.