Time Travel in Popular Media

Essays on Film, Television, Literature and Video Games


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About the Book

In recent years numerous films, television series, comic books, graphic novels and video games have featured time travel narratives, with characters jumping backward, forward and laterally through time. No rules govern time travel in these stories. Some characters move by machine, some by magic, others by unexplained means. Sometime travelers can alter the timeline, while others are prevented from causing temporal aberrations. The fluid forms of imagined time travel have fascinated audiences and prompted debate since at least the 19th century.
What is behind our fascination with time travel? What does it mean to be out of one’s own era? How do different media tell these stories and what does this reveal about the media’s relationship to time? This collection of new essays—the first to address time travel across a range of media—answers these questions by locating time travel narratives within their cultural, historical and philosophical contexts. Texts discussed include Doctor Who, The Terminator, The Georgian House, Save the Date, Back to the Future, Inception, Source Code and others.

About the Author(s)

Matthew Jones is a senior lecturer in film studies at the University of Exeter. He has published widely on genre film and television, and mid-century British cinema-going. Joan Ormrod is a senior lecturer in the Department of Media at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, and co-founder and editor of Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Matthew Jones and Joan Ormrod
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 336
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7807-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2008-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface (Matthew Jones and Joan Ormrod) 1
Introduction: Contexts and Concepts of Time in the Mass Media (Matthew Jones and Joan Ormrod) 5
Philosophy and Theory
Contemporary Philosophy (Nikk Effingham) 20
Time Travel and Temporal Paradox: Deleuze, the ­Time-Image
and Russian Ark (David Deamer) 35
“I flung myself into futurity”: H.G. Wells’s Deleuzian Time Machine (Michael Starr) 51
To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before: Complexity Science and the Star Trek Reboot (Matthew Kimberley and Jason N. Dittmer) 63
Control Dramas and Play Time: Tales of Redemption and the Temporal Fantasist (Jacqueline Furby) 77
Culture and History
Experiments in Time: The Silent Films of Cecil B. DeMille (David Blanke) 92
A Spasso nella Commedia: Temporal Journeying Through the Transitional Landscape of Italian Film Comedy of the 1980s and 1990s (Giacomo Boitani) 106
Remembering the Past for the Future: The Function of Museums in Science Fiction Time Travel Narratives (Dolly Jørgensen) 118
Narrative and Media Forms
“Harmonious Synchronicity” and Eternal Darkness: Temporal Displacement in Video Games (Paul Booth) 134
“I belong to the future”: Timeslip Drama as History Production in The Georgian House and A Traveler in Time (Victoria Byard) 149
“Who knows about the future? Perhaps only the dead”: Configuring the ­Transtemporal Timespan of Planet of the Apes as a Transmedia Saga (Matthew Freeman) 165
Tropes, Narratives and Generic Cycles
Time Travel and the “Afterlife” of the Western (Pete Falconer) 180
Temporal Prosthetics and Beautiful Pain: Loss, Memory and Nostalgia in Somewhere in Time, The Butterfly Effect and Safety Not Guaranteed (Travis L. Martin and Owen R. Horton) 194
Try Again: The Time Loop as a ­Problem-Solving Process in Save the Date and Source Code (Victor ­Navarro-Remesal and Shaila García-Catalán) 206
A Stitch in Time: Film Costume as a Narrative Tool Beyond Time Linearity (Elena Trencheva and Sofia Pantouvaki) 219
Case Studies
“Downwards is the only way forwards”: “Dream Space,” Parallel Time and Selfhood in Inception (Charles Burnetts) 234
“A world without history”: Fate, Fantasy and Temporal Fractures in The ­X-Files (Eleanor Dobson and Rosalind Fursland) 247
The Therapeutic Value of Fantasy Revealed Through the Colors of Pleasantville (Elissa Nelson) 259
Woody Allen’s (Post)Modern Nostalgia Games: The Critical Rhetoric of Cinema as Time Machine (Dario Llinares) 271
1. Timeline of Literature 286
2. Asian Time Travel Films and Television Series by Country 288
3. Graphic Novels, Comics, Manga and Animé 291
4. Video Games 294
5. A Selected Webography of Sites Dedicated to Time Travel 295
Bibliography 297
Filmography 310
Comics, Games, Other Works 314
About the Contributors 315
Index 319

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “The focus on film and video games is strongest”—Midwest Book Review
  • “Valuable…intriguing…recommended”—Science Fiction Studies
  • “This collection of new essays is the first to address time travel across a range of media”—Magonia Book News