Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Time Machine

“I could hear their murmuring laughter as they came towards me. Very calmly I tried to strike a match. I had only to fix on the levers and depart then like a ghost. But I had overlooked one little thing. The matches were of that abominable kind hat light only on the box”

Good afternoon dear all. I first read the Time Machine a while ago and watched the 1960's film even further back in time but strangely enough something about writing up yesterdays post got me thinking about it again and given that its just 90 or so pages long decided to reread it.

It didn't take to long for me to remember what I found so familiar, it was the relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks and how its essentially the same relationship we humans currently have with cattle only in the year 802,701*.

Interesting anyway since I've started and there are definitely a few people out there on the old global spider web that haven't had the pleasure of reading it so why not fill out some time by giving my thoughts on it and the film since a kind off enjoyed it as well even if there were a number of differences which I felt weakened it.

The Time Machine perhaps unsurprisingly given its exactly what it says on the tin title and the fact that it was first published in 1895 is the first story to actually involve using science and a nuts and bolts machine to well travel through time. There were a few older tales about time travel but they involved either visions and hallucinations or in the cases of myths and legends the Gods and magic. The science is obviously since its a readable fictitious narrative about time travel being written by a social commentator and writer in the late 19th century is a bit wonky for example if it stays in the same spot in space and only travels through time then wouldn't the traveller (none of the Victorian characters including the traveller get names)die in space as the Earth rotated around the sun?

Anyway the plot is that the traveller wishes to journey far into the future to view what great achievements man will have made and to see what Utopia would actually look like and briefly speculates on it including a society that brace yourselves has developed a practical program of Communism "To discover a society" said I "erected on a strictly Communist basis".

Unfortunately he over shoots somewhat and ends up smack bang in the year 802,701. This is perhaps the biggest break the film makes with the book as it has the traveller jumping around a Cold War style time thats quickly hotting up first before getting to the far distant date. This change also lays the foundations for much of the other alterations (the rest being the usual Hollywood games) that occur when the Traveller gets to the 802000s.

In the book he finds that man which has already achieved its Utopia millennia ago has had to face no hardships of any kind, politically, socially, militarily and bacterial. And as such evolved to the point of permanent infantile state both mentally and physically. This new race is called the Eloi, there about four feet tall have a very limited language rarely exceeding three syllables and no equivalent of grammar and have so short attention spans that when the traveller finally learns there language and begins asking them simple questions they quickly get bored and play with the flowers, "O brave new world that has such people in it" hey? Anyway his time machine soon turns up missing and he knows these cabbage patch kids couldn't have done it for quite a few reasons so he is stuck there for a few weeks. Whilst there he hypothises that due to the Utilitarian nature of the Elois clothing and shoes and there communal lifestyles -they are always in groups and all sleep together in big decaying ruins- that society had already achieved its Communist paradise a while back he then finds out he was completely wrong when he meets mankind's over bastard child the Morlocks.

The Morlocks are the slightly bigger and more intelligent Albino Cave dwelling versions of the Eloi and live deep underground in a vast series of caverns filled with the previous societies old machinery, this global workshop is connected with the surface by a series of deep ventilation shafts which the traveller initially mistook for High Ground Wells (geddit?). This causes the traveller to change his hypotheses as it now seems much more likely that the opposite of Communism appears to have happened and the continued entrenchment of the class system has now resulted in genetic and physiological divides as well as socio economic since Labour was force to toil underground while the Aristocracy enjoyed the surface.

This arrangement while no doubt enjoyable by the future Capitalist seems to finally bit them hard as since everything was literally provided for them out of site there descendants the Eloi have become completely useless and at the mercy of the Morlocks, who lacking any food supplies down below have turned to exploiting the one large source of potential meat left the Eloi. Effectively exploiting and treating like cattle the very people who centuries earlier exploited and treated them like pack mules. So quite an interesting take on Marx's concept of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

In the film however the Eloi and the Morlocks are the descendants of those Cold War states shown earlier, and both maintain human intelligence in fact the Eloi are still human and are all twenty year olds and white though the Eloi have no education and are still pretty empty headed. And the Morlocks are Green evil cave men who do everything they do with a very strong case of senseless malice. Guess which side was supposed to be which in that Cold War future.

Whereas in the Novel the Morlocks aren't actually evil, they kill the and eat the Eloi becasue they have no choice its either that or starve they've evolved to be meat eaters and the only consistent source of meat left are the Eloi hell when there not eat them they actually take good care of the Eloi, there clothes and shoes I mentioned earlier? made by the Morlocks in fact the Morlocks treat the Eloi much better then we humans do to the animals we kill for eating especially when compared to battery farms.

Also another minor gripe in the film they make the Eloi female Weena a buxom young lass and love interest for the traveller. You know the usual crap Hollywood forced on every film at the time. In the novel shes like an Eloi he saves from drowning and whom bounds with him in a relationship similar to an uncle and young niece given that shes four foot tall not very energetic and not to bright. Strangely though they did keep the docile lack of intelligence of the character in the film.

I would go on but really the story is only 90 pages long and theres nothing left but the ending to talk about and while I feel its fine talking about discussing and analysing a novels themes and events as it helps a person make up there mind whether or not they're interested in it blabbing about the climax kind of ruins the whole thing.

* Yes the book does explicitly state that this is the comparison but I did already draw that conclusion before that point.

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