Let’s Time Travel


May 14, 2020

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i'm cassandra marcella

As a travel professional AND world traveler myself, “Stay home and hunker down” are not words that I thought I would say. Ever.

But here we are, and I advise staying home enthusiastically.

We have to do all we can to reduce the impact of this nasty new virus.  I’m 100% on board with that.

But travelers are dreamers. And we love good stories. Would it not be nice to time travel to say, 2013? Or 1993? Or 1972? Or 1745?

I sometimes describe myself as an escape artist. Let’s escape into these films that feature some amazing trips via time travel and imagine away, ourselves away!

About Time (2013)

Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson, now appearing in HBO’s Run, which is SO fun too) grows up in Cornwall, in a house by the sea with his father James (Bill Nighy), mother Mary (Lindsay Duncan), an absent-minded uncle and his sister Katherine. On his 21st birthday he learns from his father that the men in his family have the power to time travel. Bill Nighy is as brilliant as ever. While explaining this unusual power, he notes that they can only go back to events and times in their own lives. They can’t go back and “kill Hitler or shag Helen of Troy, unfortunately.” The movie is filled with great British actors who have since found acclaim and fame including Tom Hughes (Prince Albert in PBS’ Victoria) and Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret in The Crown). Rachel McAdams and Margot Robbie also star. And the whole thing is written and produced by Richard Curtis ( Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Love Actually), so trust me – it’s a delight.

Available on Netflix.

Back to the Future (1985)

After mad scientist ‘Doc’ Brown (Christopher Lloyd) demonstrates his DeLorean time machine to high-schooler Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), Marty inadvertently winds up in the year 1955. Stuck in the past, Marty seeks out a younger Doc in 1955 to find a way back to the ’80s. But when Marty’s actions prevent his parents’ chance meeting, he must play matchmaker to make them fall in love—or he’ll be erased from existence.

Available to rent ($3.99) on Amazon Prime and included on Netflix.

Berkeley Square (1933)

Don’t ask me how I discovered this film. If I could time travel back about 4 weeks, I’d tell you! It probably caught my eye because I stayed at the The Berkeley in Berkeley Square in 1999 on a wonderful visit to London with both my parents. (I highly recommend!).

The film is based on an unfinished Henry James novel called The Sense of the Past and was a play on Broadway before being made into a film. This film was also remade in 1951 with Tyrone Power and called The House in the Square… so seems a mention in the annals of time travel movies!

In the story, American Peter Standish, played by Lesley Howard (nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor), finds himself in London right after the American Revolution where he meets his ancestors. He becomes feared for what he knows about what is yet to come, but it’s mostly a love story. Believed permanently lost, the film reel was discovered and restored in the 1970s.

Available nowhere unfortunately, but here is the TCM page for the film where you can see some clips.

Groundhog Day (1993)

This film is so well known the term Groundhog Day has taken on a whole new meaning – getting stuck in an awful day over and over again! For those who forgot or been buried under a rock since the early 90s, the story is about a weather man who is reluctantly sent on February 2, Groundhog Day, to see if Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) decides winter will continue for another six weeks. His fourth year on the story, Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) makes no effort to hide his frustration and his cynicism and his sense of superiority. On awaking the ‘following’ day he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. At first frustrated, then amused and then strategic, Phil Connors is always fun to watch!

Available to rent ($3.99) on Amazon Prime

Kate & Leopold (2001)

Stuart is an amateur physicist (Liev Schreiber) from 21st‑century New York discovers the existence of gravitational time portals. Then Stuart ends up pulling his ancestor – a charming, dreamy and dreaming, impoverished Duke of Albany, through a time portal to the New York City. There the duke, also known as Leopold, falls in love with Stuart’s ex-girlfriend Kate, a plucky advertising executive (played by Meg Ryan). Leopold’s appearance in the future may jeopardize Stuart’s existence (and the invention of the elevator) and hence the shenanigans unfold, amid a complicating love story. It’s all good fun and great New York City scenery too.

Available to rent ($3.99) on Amazon Prime

Sliding Doors (1998)

When Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow), a London ad executive, is fired from her job and rushes out to catch a train, two scenarios take place. In one she catches her boyfriend cheating on her. In the other his infidelity escapes detection. In one the circumstances of her life boost her confidence; in the other her self-esteem is shaken. In both versions, she meets another man. Will he become the love of her life? Or will she stay with her boyfriend? The movie is a meditation on the vagaries of fate, and love and our romantic destinies.

Available on Amazon Prime

Somewhere in Time (1980)

In 1972, playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) becomes fascinated by a photo of Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), a turn-of-the-century stage actress, while staying at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan. Through hypnosis, Richard wishes himself back in time to the year 1912 to find her, but Elise’s manager, William Fawcett Robinson (Christopher Plummer) fears that any romance will derail her growing career on the stage. So he resolves to stop them from falling in love. I listened to John Barry’s romantic score for this movie endlessly when I was a teenager. The movie itself offers probably the corniest ending ever, but Mackinac Island is still on my bucket list! Lovely setting and beautiful clothes too.

Available to rent ($3.99) on Amazon Prime

Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)

This film also mixes a love story with time travel. Clare (Rachel McAdams) desperately tries to build a life with her one true love (Eric Bana), despite the fact that his time traveling forces them apart with no warning, never knowing when they will be reunited.  Apparently he can’t control when he slides around in time and invariably when in a new time, he shows up naked. Their daughter (in the future) also turns out to have the ability to time travel but manages to exert a bit more control than her clothing while she moves around in time than her father manages.

Available to rent ($3.99) on Amazon Prime

This one is not a movie but I can NOT write a post about time travel and not give an honorable mention to a favorite series of mine which has time travel basic to the plot, so I hereby give a shout-out to

Outlander (2014-present)

Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe), a married combat nurse from 1945 is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743, where she is immediately thrown into an unknown world. There her life is threatened amid the tumult of the Jacobite uprising that had the aim of returning James II of England and VII of Scotland, the last Catholic British monarch to the British throne. Amid all this danger and for her protection, Claire is forced to marry Jamie Fraser, a really hot Scottish Highlander. An infamously passionate relationship is ignited. Yet, Claire wants to return to her husband Frank Randall in the 20th century (or does she?). While in the 1700s, she encounters Frank’s ancestor Black Jack. And the infamous Battle of Culloden, the last pivotal battle of the Jacobite uprising, is fast approaching. Can Claire change the outcome? Should she? It’s all riveting good fun and lots of handsome Scots in skirts.

The first 3 seasons available on Netflix; all seasons available on Starz, which is offering a special quarantine deal of 3 months for $15 USD.

The 5th season just ended last weekend, and just ahead of that Vogue.com featured an essay How Outlander Has Kept Me Going Through Quarantine (SOOO true!). And Caitriona Balfe, the Irish actress who plays Claire Fraser, said:

We’re trying to find some kind of understanding through storytelling. Storytelling has always, generation through generation, given us a framework to understand what we’re experiencing at any moment, and that’s why I think we all find solace in TV or film, because I do think there is a very medicinal quality to storytelling.

Agreed – there is a very medicinal quality to storytelling.

So until the world heals and re-opens, why not enjoy some of the best time traveling movies? Which have you seen? Which are you going to check out?

Not all of us have the ability and privilege of staying home and watching movies. Our deepest thanks goes out to the medical care professionals and other leaders on the frontlines at this time.

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