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The Time Machine

The Time Machine (1960), starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, by George Pal

In this adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic novel, The Time Machine, a scientist in 1880s Victorian England builds a vehicle to transport him through time. He first travels to 1917 and the horror of World War I. Next, he sets his destination for 1940 and the start of World War II. From there he travels to a future London when he barely escapes nuclear holocaust. Finally, he sets his destination for the year 802,701 C.E., when he meets an innocent race of people living in an idyllic land … but this future may be the most dangerous of all his journeys in The Time Machine.

Review

In one sense, it’s amazing that George Pal did an excellent adaptation of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine. George Pal was an optimist. Despite having the protagonist goes through trails and tribulations, the end of the movie isn’t the end of his story. He goes back to the far future, to help the Eloi rebuild, and hopefully find the woman he loves …. Weena.

H. G. Wells, in contrast, was a pessimist. He was also a socialist, where Pal had left Europe, and saw first-hand the effects of Socialism. Earlier in his career, with his Puppetoons shorts, he made several strong stands against Socialism, notably Tulips Shall Grow.

The Eloi learn

In addition, there’s a very different viewpoint on the Eloi and the Morlocks. The Eloi are the apathetic, pacifist, surface dwellers. They live in the ruins of their ancestors’ civilization. But there’s a turning point when George is fighting to rescue the helpless Eloi from the carnivorous Morlocks. One young Eloi sees how George is fighting bare handed. The camera pans down to his arm, where his fingers form a fist. And he starts fighting alongside George. Inspired, the other Eloi do the same. And humanity learns to fight for its’ survival again.

The story in photos

George and his faithful friend, David Filby in "The Time Machine"
George and his faithful friend, David Filby
Dr. Philip Hillyer - George's skeptical friend, who thinks George should be more pragmatic with his skills.
Dr. Philip Hillyer – George’s skeptical friend, who thinks George should be more pragmatic with his skills.
Putting the Time Machine to use, George meets Filby's descendant in the future
George meets Filby’s descendant in the future

Arrival in the distant future

The Eloi's broken, decaying dome in "The Time Machine"
The Eloi’s broken, decaying dome

Weena, after she's rescued from drowning by George in "The Time Machine"
Weena, after she’s rescued from drowning by George
George meets the pacifistic, apathetic Eloi - the future of humanity in The Time Machine
George meets the pacifistic, apathetic Eloi

What has been lost

George: What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so you can let it crumble to dust. A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams… FOR WHAT? So you can swim and dance and play.
George: What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so you can let it crumble to dust. A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams… FOR WHAT? So you can swim and dance and play.
The talking rings tell the story: The war between the east and west which is now in it's three hundred and twenty-sixth year, has at last come to an end. There is nothing left to fight with, and few of us left to fight. The atmosphere has become so polluted with deadly germs, that it can no longer be breathed. There is no place on this planet that is immune. The last surviving factory for the manufacturing of oxygen has been destroyed. Stockpiles are rapidly diminishing. And when they are gone, we must die.
The talking rings tell the story: The war between the east and west which is now in it’s three hundred and twenty-sixth year, has at last come to an end. There is nothing left to fight with, and few of us left to fight. The atmosphere has become so polluted with deadly germs, that it can no longer be breathed. There is no place on this planet that is immune. The last surviving factory for the manufacturing of oxygen has been destroyed. Stockpiles are rapidly diminishing. And when they are gone, we must die.
Weena shows George the talking rings … the only surviving record of their history
Weena shows George the talking rings … the only surviving record of their history

Talking Rings: My name is of no consequence. The important thing you should know, is that I am the last who remembers how each of us, man and woman made his own decision. Some chose to take refuge in the great caverns, and find a new way of life far below the earth’s surface. The rest of us decided to take our chances in the sunlight. Small as those chances might be.

The Morlock Sphinx -- where Weena … and the Time Machine … have been taken
The Morlock Sphinx — where Weena … and the Time Machine … have been taken

The Morlocks provide the food and clothing for the Eloi. And harvest them, as humans harvest cattle. For the same reason.

The underground Morlock
The underground Morlock

What has been rediscovered

George fights the Morlocks with a lit torch … after generations of living underground, they fear the light.
George fights the Morlocks with a lit torch … after generations of living underground, they fear the light.
The Eloi have escaped from the Morlocks … and learned again how to fight to defend themselves
The Eloi have escaped from the Morlocks … and learned again how to fight to defend themselves

Return to the Present

George returns to 1900
George returns to 1900
Filby: Which three books would you have taken?
Filby: Which three books would you have taken?

Cast of characters

  • Rod Taylor as H. George Wells. The protagonist and narrator. The inventor of the time machine, who travels into the future in search of a Utopia. Along the way, he makes several short stops, meeting the decedent of his best friend David. Eventually, he makes it in the distant future, finding the pacifist Eloi and the cannibal Morlocks.
  • Alan Young as David Filby/James Filby. George’s best friend, a steadfast companion. Everyone should have a friend like Filby.
  • Yvette Mimieux as Weena. The beautiful young Eloi that George rescues from drowning. As her apathetic friends simply watch. She learns to fall in love with him.
  • Sebastian Cabot (Twice Told Tales, The Jungle Book) as Dr. Philip Hillyer. George’s pragmatic friend, who wants him to use his genius to help the war effort.
  • Whit Bissell (Creature from the Black Lagoon) as Walter Kemp
  • Doris Lloyd (Night Monster) as Mrs. Watchett. George’s house keeper. A motherly figure, who keeps an eye on him.
  • Paul Frees as voice of the Rings

Editorial review of The Time Machine courtesy of Amazon.com

On January 5, 1900, a disheveled looking H. G. Wells – George to his friends – arrives late to his own dinner party. He tells his guests of his travels in his time machine, the work about which his friends knew. They were also unbelieving and skeptical of any practical use if it did indeed work. George knew that his machine was stationary in geographic position but he did not account for changes in what happens over times to that location he also learns that the machine is not impervious and he is not immune to understand him or the machine’s purpose.

George tells his friends that he did not find the Utopian society he so wished had developed. he mentions specifically a civilization several thousand years into the future which consists of the subterranean Morlocks and the surface dwelling Eloi, who on first glance lead a carefree life. Despite all these issues, love can still bloom over the spread of millennia.

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