A dangerous journey in time
by Antonio Rodríguez
- Science-fiction, anguish, humour and nihilism: a debut feature that stands out in the Spanish cinematic landscape and is destined for a US remake
From the garden of his villa and while his wife finishes unpacking from a recent move, middle-aged Héctor surveys the surroundings through a pair of binoculars. Suddenly, he sees a beautiful young woman mysteriously stripping in nearby woodland. His curiosity aroused, Héctor walks towards the hill, but when he approaches the girl he is attacked by an individual with a bandaged face, like the invisible man from the old movie.
Fleeing from him, Héctor takes refuge in a building that houses a laboratory. There, a researcher encourages him to get inside a barrel full of liquid so he can escape the mysterious aggressor.
When he emerges from the barrel, Héctor discovers it was a prototype of a time machine and that he has unleashed a terrible paradox, whereby two versions of himself coexist in the same space and time.
Such is the original, imaginative and bold plot outline of the debut feature Timecrimes [+see also:
interview: Alejandro Miranda
interview: Nacho Vigalondo
film profile] by Oscar-nominated director Nacho Vigalondo. The film –which stars Karra Elejalde, Bárbara Goenaga and Vigalondo – is as fresh, self-assured and humorous (in a surreal, naive and metaphorical way) as his acclaimed short 7.35 in the Morning.
The title sets itself apart from other Spanish films, with its Chinese box structure and moments of almost existential angst. Despite obvious differences between them, Timecrimes has something of the comic appeal of Multiplicity, the nihilism of Twelve Monkeys, and some of the same themes as Terminator and the Back to the Future saga.
Even though the effect in Timecrimes is much more subtle and "natural", the film uses the same time travel techniques to successfully attract audiences. In fact, the anticipation is growing by the day, as the film’s release date approaches.
Since its first public screening at the Austin Film Festival (Texas), where it won the Gold Medal for Best Film and the Silver Audience Award, Timecrimes has also picked up the Golden Asteroid for Best Film at the Trieste Film Festival (Italy) and was enthusiastically received by critics and audiences at the Sitges and Sundance Film Festivals.
Moreover, Magnolia Pictures have bought the rights for distribution in the US and other English-speaking countries and will manage international sales for the rest of the world. The title has already sold to over 20 territories.
In addition, the film’s remake rights have been acquired by United Artists, the company owned by Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise, who – according to the Spanish producer – may be interested in starring in the said remake (but of course film stars’ work schedules are difficult to predict). Those already committed to the project include Agnès Mentre (who produced Roberto Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful and Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11) and scriptwriter-director-producer Steven Zaillian (who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Schindler’s List and also wrote Ridley Scott’s American Gangster).