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Primer

September 14, 2013

Primer (2004)
Director: Shane Carruth
Actors: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden

Primer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis: Aaron (Shane Carruth) and Abe (David Sullivan) are two white-collar workers, who along with a couple of further friends, are embarking on an amateur science experiment in Aaron’s garage. When Aaron and Abe think they may have created a device that enables a body to travel through time, they move that device to a storage container and start to secretly experiment sending themselves forward in time. Although initially intended as a means of financial remuneration by speculating on moves in the stock-market, the machine soon becomes a ‘pandora’s box’ as Abe and Aaron create multiple histories and versions of themselves….

Review: Putting the “science” well and truly into “science fiction”, Shane Carruth’s ingenious, utterly admirable treatise on the cerebral dilemmas presented by time travel, gains even greater worth knowing that Carruth needed only $7000 to actually make the film. In a sense, the severe financial limitations forced Carruth to go inward, both in terms of storytelling and really wrapping his narrative up in strong science and well-thought out metaphysical musings on the nature of temporality, but also in his method – and how if he controlled his mise en scene to a couple of key, septic locations (the garage-cum-laboratory and the storage unit), he could still affect a convincing sci-fi ambience to the work.

A lot of commentators have likened the themes of Primer to Robert Zemeckis’ more zany, mainstream Back to the Future trilogy (especially Back to the Future II), but the film’s notion of time-travel creating multiple identities and a kind of uncontrollable mise en abyme reminded me mostly of Christopher Nolan’s masterly and underrated The Prestige, which shared a similar (though more old-fashioned and magical) reverence in the starry-eyed ingenuity of its protagonists. (September 2013)

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