Do you ever wonder if you could go back in time to alter some past mistake? We may not fully be able to discern the ideational aspects of travelling through time but that has never concluded us from reasonably thinking about the ramifications of time travel and how it influences causality. No doubt it seems a paradox in theory, but time-machines have been filling movie plots since the 1921 movie “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” based on Mark Twain’s 1889 novel with the same title.
Let’s start with “Ender’s Game”. Time travel in this movie is actually very realistic, referred to as “Time dilation”. Travelling at light speed, characters experience slower passage of time while the rest of the world undergoes the same at normal pace. This kind of time travel does not alter anything in the past or future and it’s all a consistent trajectory. There exists two different models of time travel, one being self-consistent and other where the very act of time travel deviates the course of history to a new/altered timeline.
The simplest style of time travel is the “Do over” time-travel where it is essentially similar to playing a video game, where every time you die, you can start over with the foresight of what you did wrong. Netflix movie ”Arq” is a good example of such genre, where the protagonists live the same nine minutes of a morning again and again with different characters experiencing free will at calculated loops leading to a final twist in the end. Tom Cruise starring 2014 movie “Edge of Tomorrow” has a parallel storyline where Major William Cage has to save the planet from an alien race while being caught inside a time loop. The video game “Braid” is also based on the same idea where you can rewind a few seconds back to alter your movements but always starting at the same point.
And then, the other kind where the act of travelling through time, changes timeline and trajectory because the time-travelling you weren’t there the first time, but now you are. The classics “Back to the future”, “Star Trek first contact”, “Excellent adventure” can all be cited for this genus. Even coming book storylines like the “The Flash” follow the same laws of altered realities.
The movie “Looper” is similar but with a little more complexity where the younger version of the protagonist also travels back in time having the potential of free will. “Primer” takes this concept to the extreme with time-travelling characters interacting with younger versions of themselves, bringing time-machines to the past, all leading to time travel inside time travel similar to dreams in “Inception”.
This brings us to a very special movie “Predestination” released in 2014, where you can instantly go to any point in time but it does not alter the timeline in any way. Whatever has happened or will happen in due course is predestined, and all the characters essentially lack any free will. Another parallel story is identified in Syfy based Tv series called “12 Monkeys” which beautifully crafts the predestination paradox in a broader context with an amazing conclusion. The underrated show is now available in Netflix and is a must watch for any time-travel fan.