Looking Forward to Going Back.

A look at theories of time travel according to films of the past.
July 16, 2007
The more I read and browse my way through this site, the more I miss the past. I miss the great shows, the awesome toys, the way I felt on Saturday mornings, and just about everything I enjoyed before I decided I needed to "grow up". A day doesn't go by that I don't wish I could just spend ten minutes in the past and enjoy it all over again. That is why we need to find a way to travel back to yesteryear. DVD collections of our favorite shows are not enough and God knows the revamped versions of our favorite toys only make us sadder. We want that feeling deep inside that we felt on a daily basis as a child. We will never feel that again, but maybe we can watch ourselves as we felt it long ago. Maybe we can go back and experience our childhood as spectators or change something to help us enjoy it even more.

Films of the past have given us many methods and theories of time travel. Perhaps we should look at a few and chose what would be best for us Retro Junkies. Let me share some of the more popular forms of time travel and then we should submit this to someone who can get the ball rolling on this.

The Mass and Time Displacement Theory
As demonstrated in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

This is by far the worst incarnation of Ninja Turtles to date, however it poses an interesting theory on time travel. The theory here is that it is possible for one to travel elsewhere in time as long as a counterpart of equal mass is exchanged. This means that time itself is a loose concept but mass cannot be negotiated. This is evidenced by the fact that April did not travel back until Kenshin grabbed the scepter nor the turtles until the guards handled the scepter.

The other part of this theory is that it is possible to live in the past as an active participant. However time itself will not change due to your actions because you will fulfill your required task. The turtles fought and led the rebellion against the emperor only because it was prophesized that they would. (Refer to Demon Scrolls for further information.) It is a confusing concept, however it is far less confusing than trying to fathom the thought process behind making this travesty of a film in the first place.

Verdict: This is a very limited form of time travel that relies too much on coincidence to actually work. Also, it would be hard to visit our past if we had to hope someone we used to know had the same body mass as us and just happened to stumble across the scepter when we are holding it in the present.

The Time is Based on Earth's Axis Rotation Theory
As demonstrated in Superman

I will not spend much time on this theory because it is so obviously flawed. In fact it is completely ridiculous. In this movie a ton of things go wrong at the same time and Superman is stretched so thin he misses the opportunity to save Lois from her own driving into an earthquake stupidity. Incensed and obviously out of his mind with grief, Superman flies off around the earth. Due to his speed and direction he manages to reverse the earth's spin on its axis and therefore reverses time. He is now able to reach Lois in time and he saves the day. Yea!

Ok so now the reason it is flawed: time is not based on earth’s rotation on its own axis. In fact, the passage of time is not based on the rotation of anything. The rotation of the earth around the sun is not a passage of time but merely the way we measure time. The rotation of the earth on its axis is only the measure of what time of day it is whether we are facing the sun or not. Therefore, Superman’s actions would not turn back time, but would instead throw the earth off its rotation and send it hurdling toward the sun. So Superman would have doomed us all to a life far shorter than intended just to save his ugly, chain-smoking, klutz of a girlfriend. Thank you Man of Steel!

Verdict: No absolutely not the way to go back in time. Plus as we sail slowly closer to the sun we would probably have to endure Al Gore’s sequel: Another Inconvenient Truth.

The Travel from the Future to Save (or destroy) the Future Theory
As demonstrated in The Terminator

In this theory traveling through time is only possible from your starting point, meaning there is no way to get back. It is also not possible to travel through time with clothing. Imagine this: it is a dark night and the only sound you hear is the breeze that rustles the trees around you. Then without warning a loud crack breaks the silence and the previously peaceful darkness is flooded in bright blue light and sparks of lightning. Your eyes follow the lightning to its source and see a ball of blue light that slowly fades to reveal a man of considerable size crouched in a small crater that has been burnt into the ground. Then you realize the man is naked and walking towards you and you start to wish you didn't go out dressed like a biker. Congratulations, the last thing you witnessed before the man broke every bone in your feeble human body was the SkyNet Method of Time Travel!

This is how The Terminator and his fellow future adversaries were thrust into the past. They cannot return to their own time and they must finish their task or die trying. These men and part man (and yes one woman) were sent for a variety of tasks including, kill Sarah Conner, kill John Conner, kill members of John’s resistance, and a counterpart was sent to protect the aforementioned victims. The problem with this method is that it obviously doesn’t work, at all. The Terminator, no matter in what form, always fails. The Savior, no matter in what form, has way too much interaction with the intended targets. I can’t go in to this too much but mull over this next statement. John Conner is the offspring of Sarah Conner and Kyle Reese who is from the future. Kyle was sent back in time by John to save Sarah so she can conceive John with Kyle and give birth to John so John can later send Kyle back in time to save Sarah and conceive John. So if it was destined for Kyle to be the father than he was always meant to go back in time therefore the terminator was always meant to fail his mission right? Ok the franchise is full of little mistakes like this so it is better to move on to the verdict.

Verdict: Not a good idea if you just want to visit the past, mainly because you can’t return. Also it is a little too loose on the rules about future and past interacting and it seems to cause way too many problems in the time/space continuum to allow it to happen.

The Do Whatever You Want and to Heck with the Circumstances Theory
As demonstrated in Bill and Ted

Bill and Ted are idiots. Lovable and loyal but idiots. So you would not expect them to be in movies where time travel is a difficult and complex action. In fact there are very few rules or guidelines in this theory of time travel, probably way too few. In this theory one is able to travel to any where in time and can basically do whatever they want to do. That includes but is not limited to: pulling historical figures out of their own time and letting them run amok in the present, leaving the present to learn a skill that will help you win a competition (in other words, cheat), or pluck hot chicks from the past and marry them in the future but never return them to their own time. None of this is possible as the world would collapse in on itself, but for the purposes of these movies it was most non-heinous.

The only real rule in this theory is that what you go back and do in that past will affect the present before you go back and actually do it in the past. An example of this is when Ted’s dad could not find his keys all day because Bill and Ted went back in time to get the keys. Ted’s dad had lost the keys before Bill and Ted went back to get them. Do you understand now? No well… uh… then… SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!

Verdict: I like the idea of being able to do what I want at any time, but I think it might actually kill everyone… ever.

The No One Should Know too Much About Their Own Future Theory
As demonstrated in Back to the Future

So you wanna travel through time and see your past and maybe even peek at whom you will later become but you hate small spaces like phone booths? Well Doc Brown has a great way for you to see the past and do it in style. The DeLorean, made famous by two things, time-travel and cocaine!

If I had the chance to go back this is what I would want to go in. It is far better than the refrigerator Zemeckis was going to use. It is by far the best way to go so far and this theory is by far the strictest covered. There are so many rules tied into this theory that I can’t cover it in just this article but I will give an overview.

It is possible to travel backwards and forwards in time thanks to the flux capacitor. It is best not to interact in any way with anyone at any time. This will ensure that you will not alter anything from the past and will not know anything about your own future. However, it is possible to change the events of the future by altering the past. Like if you push your teenage father out of the way of the car that should hit him your teenage mother will get a crush on you and not your father. Also you can act as your own son to prevent your family from falling to ruin due to his cowardice. But like I said, it is best to just sit back and watch otherwise you can cause a rift in the time/space continuum and the universe can be destroyed or they just change the name of a ravine in your honor.

Verdict: I like this theory because it has structure and can be fun. Sure you have to be real careful but if all you’re doing is going back to enjoy watching your childhood you should be okay.

So I think we need to go with the final theory and work our way from there. It should be fun traveling back and seeing ourselves as children enjoying everything that was our childhood. But whatever you do, do not introduce yourself to your 6 year old self. Tell them you are someone else so as not to confuse yourself. Oh and remember that we had the “don’t talk to strangers” thing all over the place at that time so don’t be creepy and get arrested in the past because you broke in to your old house and were watch G.I. Joes with yourself at age 6.

Thanks for reading hope you enjoyed it.
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