RR Films: Time

The Great Bell in the Elizabeth Tower, aka Big Ben, has been silenced for a while, causing some to fear the very end of time, or at least England as we know it (harrumph).

[Intertitle: Time hasn’t actually been an RR topic, but it is one of the categories on Marco’s Related Topics page and the other news didn’t inspire me and I should be in bed.]

Films have painted histories covering vast stretches of time and taking place in the twinkling of an eye (in a universe somewhere). Other films have shown the effects of time, on people, on places, on events. Some just play with it.

My choice does that, collapsing years into minutes, just as it collapses lives into bit parts: Synecdoche, New York.

What films would you recommend where time takes a front seat?

27 thoughts on “RR Films: Time

  1. Loved Time Bandits. I am about twenty or thirty minutes into my re-watching of Synechdoche New York on DVD. A sticker on the cover actually says “the smash hit comedy of the year!” It must have been a pretty grim year is all I can say. Good film in many ways but…..

    And why did Samantha Morton’s character take such a fancy to him? Why? I’m a mental and physical wreck too and she’s never contacted me.

    I’ll go for 45 Years.

    Released in 2015. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay are a couple who are planning to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.
    Then, just five days before the party is due to take place, a letter arrives for Courtenay saying that the body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in a glacier in the Swiss Alps.
    It had been lost since 1961 after a tragic accident during a hiking holiday and the couple had never really spoken about her.

    45 Years

    • Yes, they had trouble marketing Synechdoche, mainly because no-one at the studio had a clue what it was about. It contains the bitterest laughs I’ve ever encountered but I really do love it; many don’t.

  2. I am going to completely avoid time travel and concentrate on time itself, as in the measurable time we all use to regulate our lives. I am nomming a John Cleese film, Clockwise, in which he plays a headmaster who is obsessed with timekeeping and ensuring that everything runs like clockwork. He is invited to be a speaker at a head teacher’s conference and everything begins to unravel.

  3. I’m having a hard time (oops) with this one. All i could think of was silly films like Logan’s Run or Lort Horizon (the 1973 one) because aging is a bitch (oh Micheal York.) Or ones that i didn’t see, like Jurassic Park or that Michael J Fox film. I remember we did some flashback films for another topic.

    Yesterday i watched the NASA livestream of the eclipse moving across the country in real time, and the reactions of people various stops along the way. And got to thinking about how time and progress move at different paces in different in different areas of the country (never mind the world). And the problems when those aren’t in sync. Some seem to have progressed slowly and are still stuck in the past, some move too fast without taking into consideration the full effects. And other interim stops along the way. And so here we are.

    With that in mind, i’ll put up a film that is a microcosm of when communities at different stages of progress in time collide, with disasterous results – Deliverance.

  4. Sally Potter- Orlando, with the sublime Tilda Swinton. I finally got around to reading the book recently, very enjoyable.

    • Orlando is a wonderful film. It captures the book perfectly. I first read it when I was a student and I’ve reread it several times over the years. It is basically a long love letter from Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West.

      • Orlando was also a big influence on later writers like Angela Carter or Jeanette Winterson, I just reread Nights at the circus which has many points of reference to it.

  5. There were two films back in the 60/70’s that relate indirectly to this topic that I found to be very interesting, here’s part of what Wiki thought.
    The Powers of Ten films are two short American documentary films written and directed by Charles and Ray Eames. Both works depict the relative scale of the Universe according to an order of magnitude (or logarithmic scale) based on a factor of ten.
    The first film:”A Rough Sketch for a Proposed Film Dealing with the Powers of Ten and the Relative Size of Things in the Universe” — was a prototype and was completed in 1968; the second film:”Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero” — was completed in 1977.
    They might sound a bit obscure but they were beautifully shot and were very revealing. The first one involves a camera zooming away from earth [Chicago] until we’re a mere speck in the universe and the second reverses that process and zooms back to earth and enters a body continuing down to the sub atomic particle structures.
    Check youtube or similar, both worth seeing.

  6. And a second thought that comes to mind is that most of my life I’ve struggled to try to understand time. What is Time, not the measurement, but ‘Time’ itself. So far I haven’t suceeded.

  7. Although arguably it doesn’t use time as a major plot device, ‘ Once Upon a Time in America’ does play with the concept a good deal as it shows de Niro’s gang as children, then as twenty something gangsters and finally as old men, but not chronologically. It also contains the most tragic question and answer in film history when Fat Moe (the bartender and childhood friend of de Niro) asks him, ” What you been doing for the past 30 years ?” And de Niro replies, ” Going to bed early.” It is, above all, a magnificent film which everyone should see.

  8. Just found one that’s a contemporary copy of the Eames films, this one uses a computer program.

    Image worth spreading: Cosmic Eye – This movie was generated using the iOS App “Cosmic Eye”, written by Danail Obreschkow at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at the University of Western Australia.

  9. Some great shouts, as always. I thought someone might have mentioned Pulp Fiction or Memento though, both films that startled us with the way they played with chronology.

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