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Everything you think you know about modern science is about to unravel in this critically acclaimed film about two young engineers and the consequences they face when they invent a machine that enables them to travel back in time.Running Time: 77 min.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE/THRILLERS UPC: 794043784927
Primer won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival and has drawn repeat viewers eager to crack writer-director-star Shane Carruth's puzzler of a time-travel drama. Carruth, an engineer by training, plays inventor Aaron, whose entrepreneurial partnership with fellow brainiac Abe (David Sullivan) unexpectedly results in a process for traveling back several hours in time. The men initially use these rewind sessions to succeed in the stock market. But a dark consequence of their daily journeys eventually complicates matters. If this sounds like a very commercial, science fiction thriller, Primer is anything but that. Shot on 16mm for $7,000, the film has a tantalizing, sealed-in logic, akin to Memento, that forces viewers to see the fantastic with a certain dispassion. One may be tempted to sit through Primer again to more fully understand its paradoxes and ethical quandaries. --Tom Keogh
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medPG13 PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
- Product Dimensions : 7.75 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 4 Ounces
- Director : Shane Carruth
- Media Format : Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
- Run time : 1 hour and 17 minutes
- Release date : April 19, 2005
- Actors : Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya, Carrie Crawford
- Subtitles: : English, Spanish
- Producers : Shane Carruth
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Unqualified
- Studio : New Line Home Video
- ASIN : B0007N1JC8
- Writers : Shane Carruth
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #92,113 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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If you're into Sci Fi and looking to unwind with something exciting, with good pacing, clear character motives and developments that make immediate sense... Check out Project Almanac, Looper, or Edge of Tomorrow. All fantastic films with unique takes on Time Travel.
Save this movie for a time when you're rested, or at least ready to focus and invest some brain power into a dense and layered story. It's more of a old-fashioned foray into Sci Fi. More like something that a modern Jules Verne or H.G. Wells might write. Dense and nuanced with lots of explanation of rules and big words that you may or may not understand without a dictionary.
If you're ready, this is a great film worth more than one watch. It's sure to be a cult classic both for it's technical execution as well as the questions it raises about morality.
Difficulties aside, Primer is a beautiful film with top-notch cinematography and an amazing score. It is very refreshing to see a science fiction film without the standard barrage of computer-generation and overly-dramatic music. Any "special effects" experienced are the result of very well-thought-out shots combined with skillful editing. The music is well-placed, optimistically melancholy, and at the same time invokes an undeniable sense of wonder and possibility. The acting is down-to-earth and believable. The characters portrayed are not superhuman and do not have unlimited resources. The feeling that you get from the film is that you have become a witness to actual extraordinary events. In my opinion there is no other science fiction film (time travel or otherwise) that accomplishes this feat as well as Primer.
Top reviews from other countries
Shane Carruth directed, wrote, produced, scored, and edited Primer; in addition to starring as one of the two main characters. The film was reportedly made on a budget of $7000.00, and shot on a limited amount of Super 16mm film stock that required meticulous storyboard planning using 35mm still images. Carruth spent two years editing the final film. Being able to undertake any of those tasks is impressive, but just consider the level of commitment it must take to be able to do all those things. And when the end result is one of the most enthralling films that you will ever see, then Shane Carruth deserves to be acknowledged.
Primer is often referred to as a science-fiction film about time travel, which, in very simple terms it is, but it's so much deeper than that.
The main premise focuses on close friends Abe and Aaron. Two extremely intelligent and ambitious engineers living relatively successful suburban lives while developing inventions in the little spare time they have. When Abe and Aaron discover that one of their projects has the unexpected benefit of disconnecting anything contained in it from the passage of time, they realise that they've stumbled onto something that will effectively allow them to time travel to a limited degree. Despite their intelligence, Abe and Aaron don't fully understand how their device works, and begin using it in an effort to both exploit the potential benefits it offers, while also trying to unravel how it functions. What initially seems to be the answer to all their problems quickly becomes a problem in itself, and their seemingly harmless manipulation soon causes events to escalate beyond their control.
What makes Primer so different from other films where time travel is possible, is the fact that the ability to time travel isn't the central issue, it's the effect that the ability to manipulate time has on you and those around you. Although they are close friends, Abe and Aaron have distinct personalities. Abe is more cautious and reserved, while Aaron is more driven and reckless. These personal qualities are evident early on but they don't seem to have impacted their friendship. However, it soon becomes apparent that exploiting their discovery brings these issues to the fore. Early successes, like profiting from lucrative stock market picks as a result of prior knowledge, rapidly become overshadowed by divergent goals and unsolvable paradoxes that they struggle to find solutions to. Diminishing trust further fractures their relationship, and they progress from using their device to gain an advantage over everyone else, to trying to gain an advantage over each other. Repeated use of the machine begins to take its toll on them emotionally, mentally, and physically, and they soon become disconnected from their previous lives in the timeline they were on before they began to interfere with it.
If you approach Primer thinking that you can simply sit back and watch the film then you're setting yourself up for disappointment. The film makes no attempt to be easy to understand, and nothing is dumbed-down for the audience's benefit. The responsibility for unraveling the cryptic plot and overlapping timelines lies solely with the viewer. But, this detached approach draws you in, and makes you feel the same uncertainty and sense of powerlessness as Abe and Aaron. You're forced to consider the fact that, like them, you too are out of your depth.
There aren't enough superlatives to describe Primer. If you want to experience something unique, then buy or stream this film. And find somewhere to watch it where you won't be interrupted. If you want to really immerse yourself in it and really appreciate how clever and subtle it is, then use a decent pair of headphones. There are many clues to help you untangle the plot that are only apparent if you have an excellent sound system, or you're able to listen to the dialogue and audio without distracting background noise.
The first time I finished watching Primer I immediately watched it again from the beginning. I can think of no other film I've seen that has caused me to do that.
The usual blockbuster treatment of time travel is always something grandiose like Back to the Future or gimmicky like Bill and Ted, it rarely deals with the core idea of paradoxes and how they affect just the small group of people who would attempt to deal with it. There's no flashing lights or computer panels that allow them to input a time or date in history. The main characters discover a way to harness control of time in a very limited fashion, once reality of what they have dawns on them they seek to exploit it to make money but that quickly falls by the wayside when the reality of how complex messing with time travel and causality truly is. There's no staggering realisation that history will be altered, instead it's the truth of the horrible and gritty reality that your existence and even your physical presence would be affected by trying to control your place in existence.
In essence this is what standard sci-fi is all about, exploring complex ideas and asking more questions than there are answers. By the end of the film you may have a handle on it or you may not, it makes no difference point is that good sci-fi should get you to think about concepts and ideas and this film does that perfectly.
You do have to be prepared to think, it is complex, there is no revelatory moment where you are fed an explanation of the events. The film in no way panders to the audience, you have to try and work it out as the characters do, and after several viewings I'm not sure whether they do themselves. That though is one of the things that makes this film stand out, the director doesn't insult our intelligence in any way and you have to pay attention otherwise you will soon be lost.
For an micro budget production this is outstandingly well made, apparently costing around four thousand pounds and created virtually single handedly this should shame most film makers who spend more. I'm impressed by the quality of all aspects from writing through to sound and editing, in the very first scene the acting seems a little amateur but that soon passes and from there on everything is very professional, you don't notice the budget constraints and I wonder where the money goes in other films.
It really is a film that you want to watch again straight away, I've given it several viewings and even sat through the commentary (which is a first), but the time lines are so complex and paradox is so scattered through the script that there doesn't seem to be a way to resolve the story threads. This shouldn't be a selling point for a film but it is, it's as if the characters are still messing with events as you try to understand them, as if the story evolves as you view it. At one point a character's ears bleed, it felt like mine were going to.
I can't gush any more without revealing the plot, as much of it as i can follow anyway, but this is well worth buying if you like intelligent stories that make you think for days. Or migraines.
But that is where a difficulty arises. In order to persuade you that you're observing real people, not actors, the film adopts a fly-on-the-wall documentary style; and for this to convince the actors do not employ any voice projection, neither do the film makers focus on getting the actor's words over clearly. To my British ear the American drawl and deliberately quiet mumbled voices makes the dialogue virtually impenetrable.
I would also question the effectiveness of the writing (or did the characters largely ad lib in the interests of verisimilitude?)
I always think of that analogy, in Tom Stoppard's play The Real Thing, between a (screen)play and a cricket bat. A cricket bat is crafted in a certain way to knock a ball for six. If you try to use just any lump of wood "the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting ‘Ouch!’ with your hands stuck into your armpits". It takes more art, not less, to get the desired effect.