There is something to be said for documetaries that bring out the audience’s imagination. Director Jay Cheel accomplishes this and more in his film How To Make A Time Machine, which premiered at Hot Docs this past May.
The film introduces us to Rob Niosi, a former animator, and Dr. Ronald Mallet, a scientist devoted to the physics and intricacies of time travel. Through Niosi and Mallet we learn about time travel, physics, and the journey we have ahead of us. Inspired by the 1960 film Time Machine based on H.G. Wells’ story, Niosi has spent many years building an exact replica of the time machine he first saw in that film at the age of seven. In his own way, Pallet becomes focused on learning all he can about time travel after losing his father at ten years old. Their stories connect for us in How to Build a Time Machine, thanks to the careful and respectful eye of director and editor Jay Cheel.
The film is an intimate look at how these two individuals have learned to live with their past, regardless how painful, while ruminating on the possibilities of altering time, each in their own way. Thanks to the work of Mallet and others like him, How to Build a Time Machine shows us how time travel into the future is a clear possibility at this point, yet travelling into the past is both unlikely and carries much bigger consequences.
Interestingly Niosi and Mallet, both discuss how movies themselves provide a form of time travel. They talk about how movies are powerful in that they allow us to capture memories and relive moments from the past. I, for one, can relate to this experience. I remember my very first film at a cinema at 5-years-old; the time I watched Metropolis with my grandfather; and many other great memories. All throughout, How to Build a Time Machine is entertaining, engaging, quite moving, and also thought provoking. Whether you know much about time travel or not, this is one film that will certainly make you ponder at all of the possibilities.
How to Build a Time Machine screens at the Royal Cinema this weekend. For more information and screening times, visit the cinema’s website.