Primer: A Haunting First Viewing with an Intensily Satisfying Second Viewing

By: Jake Fallin



Primer is a 2004 American independent science fiction film about the accidental discovery of time travel.  Two everyday scientists (apart of a team of four) realize that a gravity reduction machine they have been working on in their garage can actually be used as a time machine.  The film is not an action packed sci fi with plot holes and flaws in time travel logic, however.  It is instead a more realistic and haunting exploration in the possibilities and dangers of time travel.

There is very little action in this film, but instead a lot of talking.  The main characters don’t go back thousands of years and have adventures (in fact there machine can’t go back farther from when they first turn it on), instead they cautiously use it to go back hours, maybe days and talk about their logic and worries about the machine.

The thing about Primer is that it is tough to follow.  Don’t go into this movie without your full attention, or you may get almost nothing.  And if you give it all your attention, you still won’t get everything in your first viewing, but you’ll still walk away happy.   You understand the little pictures of what happened but not the whole thing. Not a lot is explained up front, and when you eventually see two of the same person in one place there is a scary feeling of the unknown.  When the main characters are interrupted by a man they just saw, but is now visible aged, it is terrifying.

Who else used the machine? How many times have you gone back without me knowing? Is he up to something? What happens if I interact with my double? What are the physical body side effects of time travel? – These are some of the questions the characters ask and so do you. It puts you in the shoes of the scientists, with paranoia and tension about not knowing the power that they have. Because in reality, time travel would be a truly scary thing.

After watching the movie the first time and feeling the emotion and paranoia, I recommend watching the “Primer Explained” video on youtube.  It then clears up a lot of the big picture as to what fully happened.  Going in for a second viewing after this is a great move, because it is so wonderfully satisfying.

Primer comes out to be a two time experience, with each of it’s viewing having different strengths.  In fact, this is now one of my favorite films of all time, and if you haven’t seen it you should definitely watch it here.

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3 Responses to Primer: A Haunting First Viewing with an Intensily Satisfying Second Viewing

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I have never heard of this movie but I think this was a really good analysis because of how you incorporated your opinion and advice to the viewer. I often think its really helpful when someone gives advice, such as paying lots of attention, or knowing what to expect in a movie.

    Catherine Maier

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I really enjoy sci-fi thought provoking films like this but feel this movie will probably confuse me. It looks really cool though, I’ll definitely have to watch it
    -Jordan Hansgen

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I had never heard of this film, but it sounds incredibly interesting – and not to mention haunting. I’ve seen films and TV shows that play around with time travel in a superficial, comedic way – but never something so serious and realistic as Primer.

    -Meg Schmit

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