The Time Machine (1960)

The Time Machine
Directed by George Pal
Written by David Duncan from a novel by H.G. Wells
George Pal Productions/Galaxy Films Inc.
First viewing/Amazon Instant

George: What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so you can let it crumble to dust. A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams… FOR WHAT? So you can swim and dance and play.

I’ve read the source novel and was looking forward to the movie.  It is nowhere near as thought-provoking but still a fun special effects adventure.

The year is 1900.  A group of men impatiently waits for dinner at an inventor’s home (known in this movie as H.G. Wells).  Their host is not in attendance.  Suddenly he appears, having obviously suffered a great ordeal.  We segue into a slight flashback to the night of December 31, 1899.

During that evening, Wells showed his friends a miniature time machine and sent it on a journey into the future.  They all seem to think it is a magic trick.  He invites them all for dinner on January 5.  After his guests have gone off to celebrate the new century, Wells decides the real thing is ready for prime-time.

Wells begins with tentative forays into the immediate future.  He moves on to investigate the 20th Century.  This is filled with war and destruction.  He goes into fast forward hoping to find a time when humanity is not hell bent on its own annihilation.  He ends up trapped within a mountain and has to wait for it to erode away.

By the time Wells is freed by the mountain it is 802,701 A.D.  He finds himself in a paradise where beautiful young people live off the fat of the land without a care in the world.  He rapidly becomes disillusioned when he discovers that these people, the Eloi,  are ignorant and totally passive.  He rescues one of the women, Weena (Yvette Mimeaux), and she becomes his companion.

Through Weena, Wells learns about the terrible Morlocks who work underground and are raising the Eloi like cattle.

This movie starts off slow and builds interest as the time travel begins. One of my favorite parts was changing fashions via a mannequine in the window opposite Wells’s lab.  Things get even more interesting when we arrive in the land of the Eloi and Morlocks.  These of course speak English among other things, but I can cut the film some slack.  Taylor’s character, however, morphs into a bit of a self-righteous bully and I didn’t like him much. Still this is a quality science fiction movie that is worth seeing for fans.  I can highly recommend the book.

The Time Machine won the Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Effects.