OBS BOOK VS. MOVIE: THE TIME MACHINE (2002)

Above me shone the stars, for the night was very clear. I felt a certain sense of friendly comfort in their twinkling. All the old constellations had gone from the sky, however: that slow movement which is imperceptible in a hundred human life-times, had long since rearranged them in unfamiliar groupings. But the Milky Way, it seemed to me, was still the same tattered streamer of star-dust as of yore.”

When a Victorian scientist propels himself into the year A.D. 802,701, he is initially delighted to find that suffering has been replaced by beauty, contentment, and peace. Entranced at first by the Eloi, an elfin species descended from man, he soon realizes that these beautiful people are simply remnants of a once-great culture—now weak and childishly afraid of the dark. They have every reason to be afraid: in deep tunnels beneath their paradise lurks another race descended from humanity—the sinister Morlocks. And when the scientist’s time machine vanishes, it becomes clear he must search these tunnels if he is ever to return to his own era. (From amazon.com)

The most recent remake of H.G. Wells The Time Machine was directed by his great grandson, Simon Wells. Starring Guy Pearce as the Time Traveler, Well’s classic is changed from a commentary about psychology, social change and politics to a straight forward action/sci-fi. Simon Wells said he made the decision because ”A hundred years on from when the book was published, I’m not sure the class struggle is all that relevant.”

Marketed as a young adult movie, the movie avoids the science aspects of Time Travel (which made H.G. Wells’ books famous). Instead it focuses on the characters and their situation, which Alexander feels obligated to change. He is given a clear protagonist (a very creepy Jeremy Irons), and a very blockbuster ending.

Similarities:

- The Morlocks and the Eloi retain their most important characteristics.
- Still 19th century.
- The very central plot: the Traveler moves forward in time to the year 800,000 and sees a dramatically different Earth.
- The Morlocks smelting enterprise, as a parallel to the explanation for why the (book) Morlocks live underground.

Differences:

- The main character is referred to only as “The Time Traveler” in the book, his name is Alexander Hartdegan in the movie.
- Moved from England to New York; instead of an inventor, he is a professor at Columbia.
- The motive to build the time machine is different: for the book it was science and discovery, for the movie it was to save a lost loved one.
- He briefly stops in which he sees the fate of humanity, instead of going straight to 800,000 AD.
- The Eloi are more human, rather than child-like or nearly cattle. In the book they are androgynous; in the movie they are smarter and more diverse. Conversely, the Morlocks are not just predators, they’re sinister and evil.
- The character Weena has been replaced by Mara, to introduce a romantic element.
- Disaster involving the moon caused the separation of the species.
- The ending.

Overall Accuracy: 2.5 out of 5
H.G. Wells was known for scientific accuracy (and uncanny foresight), but this movie is just watered down action.

Check out the forum post for discussion HERE.