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Time Travelling and Time Machine in Primer Movie

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RR Time Travel (Primer)


In the movie Primer, two engineers accidently build a time machine of sorts in which they can travel back in time. In order to prevent the Double from interacting with the original, however, the original holes himself up in a hotel room with no way of contacting the outside world. They do this everyday for about six hours from noon to 6:00PM. All was going well for a few days in which the double made “lucky” stock trades and was looking at the future in which he had billions of dollars to shower his family with. However, trouble ensues when the original travels back in time to change the past. Upon doing so, the double himself also uses the time machine and travels back in time. This process continues and it is later revealed that there were as many as three doubles existing at the same time. In order to correct this, the original keeps travelling back in time and either killing or subduing the doubles, which change the past even more. Essentially, once the past was changed, even by a little, the present and future changed completely.


It is clear that the movie Primer believes that humans are free but only to some extent and that destiny has a limited role in our lives. The former is demonstrated through the fact that the characters had the power to change their pasts and consequently, their futures as well, giving us clear power in our lives. However, there are some limitations in what we can do. For example, we cannot travel to the future and change or modify it and can only do so by changing the past. The problem with this is that we do not know exactly how changing the past will affect the future. In the move, for example, changing one small thing in the past lead to disaster in the future and the creation of multiple doubles because of it. The movie also believes that destiny has a limited role because the characters in the film made the machine themselves and were not “placed” into this endless loop, like the characters in other pieces of literature are. This demonstrates that we have control of our lives and that destiny does not have a hand in that.

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Two Questions:

Is it possible to argue that the characters in the story were “destined” to build the time machine and if so, does that change how much of a role destiny plays in our lives?

Does the film comment on what makes us human and if so, what does it comment on specifically?

Significant Quotation:

One significant scene in the film was when the guy was watching his friend play basketball but in a different timeline and he misses the ball instead of making it, like he did the first time. This scene was particularly intriguing because the film does not clearly show whether or not the fact that he missed his shot brought about any noteworthy change in the future. If it did not, it can be deduced that not all changes in the past have a drastic effect on the future but if it did, it can be argued that even the smallest of changes or modifications to the past can change the future completely.


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