I love the international film community. Love the uniqueness of it, and the interesting inside-out thinking that it brings to the experience of cinema. Today, the movie is Dimensions, and it is brought to us by Geoff! Thanks buddy. Appreciate your bringing this movie our way to discuss. Interested to hear everyone’s thoughts and ideas about the ending of this one. Now, Dimensions Time Travel Movie Unraveled. I see that it is available on Vudu and on iTunes – maybe other locations too? If you see a place where you can watch it, please post it in the comments below.
Dimensions Movie Walkthrough
The movie opens in the early 1900’s, with three children living an idyllic childhood. Stephen (played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes), and his cousin Conrad (played by Sean Hart), as well as Victoria. One day, at a garden party, a mysterious older man appeared whom they came to call the Professor. And in exchange for some lemonade, he regales them with stories of the possibility of time travel. A little later in the day, the trio discover a fairly mysterious well. While playing around the well, Conrad drops Victoria’s jump rope into the well. And Conrad and Stephen begin fighting as a result. When Stephen’s mother sends them into the house, Victoria goes to get the rope out of the well and never returns. And the rest of Stephen’s life, from then on out, is spent trying to figure out a way to bring Victoria back.
Stephen dedicates his life to science, becomes a brilliant physicist and an expert in the world of string theory. Basically, Stephen is following in the charismatic footsteps of the Professor at that garden party years before. Stephen was inspired by the Professor’s ideas that it may just be possible to manipulate the fourth dimension of time and travel backwards in time.
At Cambridge, Stephen and Conrad spend their time building and tinkering, trying to figure out how to build Stephen’s time machine. One day, while lecturing to a group of a students, he meets a woman named Annie (Olivia Llewellyn), who volunteers to assist with their work. But the biggest trouble the new trio have is funding and money, to get the parts necessary to make the new rebuild come together. Eventually, Dr. Schmidt, a “benevolent benefactor” seduces Conrad away from the work with promises of a professorship, and money. Schmidt ultimately convinces Conrad to steal the machine. Long story short, Conrad powers the machine up, in front of Stephen, Annie, and Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt dives into the portal, and is spat back out, a naked, writhing mess. Moments after popping out, Schmidt grabs a gun and commits suicide. I’m guessing his decades in the netherworld didn’t go well.
Stephen then begins to worry that maybe he was the one that fell into the well. Maybe he’s been lying in a coma, and for years, Victoria has been standing by his side as he refuses to wake up. Stephen is basically mentally breaking down. Eventually though, he starts all over from scratch, working on his theories, algorithms, and pulling his plan together. Better yet, he devises a script that will allow him to dance his way through the netherworld, and find the correct multiverse, wherein he’ll find the right universe where the trio is still playing happily, and blissfully unaware of the danger ahead.
The key detail was speed – he needed a way to quickly get through the portal. And so he decides to place the portal inside the well, allowing him to jump into the well, letting gravity do the work. But, as he’s about to go through the portal, Conrad arrives, the two fight…and then Conrad jumps into the well. There stands Stephen and Annie. Stephen is having cold feet because he is FINALLY falling in love with Annie. But when Stephen asks Annie to ask him to stay – she knows for a fact that she can’t do that. So she says she isn’t starting to fall in love with him (because she always has.) Well, with that, Stephen dives into the well.
Which brings us back to the original garden party…where the Professor arrives. Where Professor Stephen arrives, at the party. Well, this time, we watch as Stephen spends time with Victoria, time he’s been spending his entire life trying to orchestrate. Then, once the day is over, Stephen steals the jump rope, and heads out of the party, revealing that the elder Conrad is there as well. The two laugh about his stealing the rope, and then they head off into the blue.
Continuity Paradigms of Dimensions
OK. I study movie time travel paradoxes and systems for giggles all the time. Primer is a good example. Timecrimes is another. Heck, wallow through my time travel posts and you’ll find more infographics than you can shake a stick at. But with this one, I’m really not sure where to begin.
We seem to be told, throughout the movie, by the architect of the time travel system himself – Stephen – that it’s impossible to change time. Well, 99% certain. This, might be a joke? HA HA! Or something? And this “joke” is even repeated at the very end of the movie. Right after Stephen has stolen the rope, and Conrad has asked about the immutability of time. Can’t be changed – at least I’m 99% certain. Which, is all well and good… but he spends, literally, the entirety of his life, 1/3 of it developing a time machine, and 2/3’rds of it wandering through the abyss of the space time continuum attempting to find and fix this timeline, only to say, it’s impossible?
Conrad: “Stephen, I thought you said, going back in time and changing something, would not effect the future, as every possible future, already exists?”
Stephen: “99% sure. But Conrad, you were the one that said, sometimes, you just got to take a chance.”
There could be a couple things happening here.
A) Stephen and Conrad have attempted this maneuver hundreds and thousands of times in hundreds and thousands of parallel universes since leaving Annie, years and years ago.
B) Stephen and Conrad have been attempting this same maneuver in the same universe, hundreds of thousands of times, in the hope that one of these times, they’ll actually get it right.
C) It just took Stephen and Conrad numerous years to find the correct multiverse in it to even attempt the rope stealing experiment.
The Real Meaning of Dimensions
One of my favorite things about Shane Carruth’s defense of his movie Primer is that it isn’t about the logic, and the concurrency of the characters moving through the movie. (Though that bit is awesome.) Rather, it’s about power – and the amount of power necessary to break the powerful bonds of friendship. And what happens when those bonds of friendship are destroyed. And this movie is similar, in that it isn’t about time travel at all, but rather about loss. The loss of innocence. The loss of childhood. The loss of youth. It isn’t about the physics, the math, the science of attempting to travel back in time. Their time machine is a PIANO for heaven’s sake!
Think about your own childhood. I’m sure when you ponder your friends, and the fun you had, it comes across with a thick Instagram filter and sunspot/lens flair-age. But when, or if, you lost a friend – the filters all change. When I was five or six, I lost a friend to cancer. And I was the only one allowed into his room, to hang out with him, to “play.” It was that one moment that ganked my life all out of wack from what previously was. As a result, if I had access to a time machine in order to take away his pain, please know this, I would. I was in the hospital as he died. Tonsils and what not. He was only a few doors down, and I missed out on holding his hand as he passed away. Maybe I would travel back to just be there.
This movie, while definitely a time travel movie, isn’t a science fiction story. Why? Because he, Stephen, walked away from the responsibilities of adulthood (as signified by his love for Annie), to return back, just for one moment, to be with Victoria. Now, obviously, Stephen could have done this selfishly, in order to allow Stephen2 to spend the rest of his life with Victoria. But the focus, entirely, was about the Professor and Victoria. So I believe, that this was solely about the death of a childhood caused by the chaos of Victoria’s death in that well years ago.
If you enjoyed this movie – the period aspect, the relationships, the logic and discussion of time travel – then the only other movie like this that I have seen would be the movie Frequencies. It too concentrated on love, and relationships, and the magic of words and luck. I highly recommend you check it out if you thought Dimensions was a fun ride.
Edited by: CY