Ask me what I did in my minimal free time in the fall? My quick response is this: became obsessed with Westworld!
-Luke Clellan Dellorso
The show caught my attention from the first episode and I could immediately sense the hints of illusion and deception that were present, but knew that there was so much more beneath the surface that the writers were not prepared to reveal to me just yet. As the show progresses, more and more is revealed, both about the specific characters’ subplots and backstories, as well as about the overall narrative (that was a Westworld joke…) as well. The one aspect of this deception that I would like to focus on though, pertains to the illusion of time! I recommend that anyone who has not seen the show yet, STOP READING IMMEDIATELY! For your own sanity- spoilers will be given! I hope that I have intrigued you enough to binge the show and return to read my commentary!
Now, for my friends who have watched the show… for serious… if you have not watched the show, turn back now!
Time is something that, for the most part, cannot be broken within theatre. An actor cannot teleport from the kitchen to the car outside. Rather, if the actor is going to bridge that transition, we as the audience will witness it occurring. In sharp contrast, film and television have the ability to, for a lack of better words, “trick” our senses by flirting with the space-time continuum. Take a montage, for example- the actor is not actually moving from place to place instantaneously. Rather, we accept the fact that the film is showing us hers or his movement over a period of time.
Now, where this gets fun, is when a filmmaker plays with our acceptance, as viewers, of the disturbance of the space-time continuum. More specifically, I am referring to the way in which Westworld presents us with a seemingly linear storyline, but we could not be more wrong by making that statement. It isn’t until we view Dolores’ memories and visions more clearly that we realize what we have been seeing. It isn’t until we view Dolores’ memories and visions more clearly that we can understand the subtle nuances that are dropped as hints to a much larger picture. It isn’t until we view Dolores’ memories and visions more clearly that we realize that we have not been watching one linear storyline, but rather multiple, from vastly different time periods, stacked on top of each other. Little did we know that William, is the man in black. But boy-oh-boy does it make sense! Dolores does not age, and thus we would not have noticed a change in her, and the creators of Westworld were kind enough to never show us anything that would give away the illusion that we were experiencing two vastly different time periods, at the same time. If the storyline is still unclear, I recommend that you take a look at this analysis provided by Vulture.
So, what am I getting at here? Film and television have an exponential amount of power, and the creators of Westworld utilized it to trick me and seriously mess with my sense of time!