Time is never ending, moving backward and forward only in our minds. As far as we know, the technology for time travel doesn’t exist. Yet any writer worth their salt who employs the trope knows that time travel will appear in history whenever the person from the future who wields it chooses to show up. Pinpointing when the technology will insert itself into history may prove difficult as the constantly shifting strands of time fray or weave tighter.
The History of Time Travel, directed by Ricky Kennedy, is unique in its attempt to capture not only the actual genesis of the invention of time travel, it’s also told in convincing documentary form, mixing real public domain footage and historical events. Using a nod to H.G. Wells, the sons who first invent time travel go back to save their mother, who wasted away while their father, the physicist Edward Page (Daniel May), worked to develop time travel.
Kennedy introduces and resolves three time travel paradoxes, settling on the infinite loop to resolve the multiverse and multiple alternate timelines, which is the only possible answer, besides replicating the very atoms that make a slave to physics. Unless there are already multiple universes coexisting, fracturing them into separate strands where different versions of ourselves experience slightly different histories would be impossible.
Yet Kennedy plays on this idea over and over. As the history of the timeline changes–the time machine ultimately falls into the hands of the Russians who beat the US to every major development of the 20th century, including the lunar landing–the experts presented in the movie undergo subtle changes in their appearances as they introduce new wrinkles in the history of time travel.
Which really leads us to the only possible explanation of time, and time travel, that makes any sense: there is no time. From beginning to end, all of this is happening at once. The heartache of a couple grieving a child occurs at exactly the same time they celebrate the birth of their next, at the same time they watch them graduate, while the child grieves beside the casket for their parents.
When it seems like only yesterday, or the day will never come, it was, and it already has.
This movie was emotionally affecting in its recounting of the family’s ordeals, connecting the desire to recover something lost to time with something that, somehow, if we’re still lucky, will never cease to be.