With Looper garnering great reviews – though I admit it left me slightly nonplussed and with serious questions – my thoughts turned to time travel, which is a fantasy theme I never get tired of. Here are my favourites – did I get yours?
Nightwatch – Terry Pratchett
Regular Fangirl readers will know I am a huge Pratchett fan, and favourite among the Discworld inhabitants are the Watch, captained by the world weary Sam Vimes, a character who has one of the most interesting arcs in fiction. This masterful book shows just how far Vimes has come, when he is catapulted into his own past and the dark days of Ankh-Morpork – but as well as being laugh out loud funny and beautifully observed, this manages in true Pratchett style to touch on totalitarianism, capitalism and political idealism. You probably need to read the other Watch books first – off you go, I’ll wait – but this is easily one of the best in the series.
The film that proved Bruce Willis was more than a cocky smirk, this mind-bending (and mind-bendingly bleak) 1995 Terry Gilliam movie remains inventive, compelling and disturbing today, even if Brad Pitt’s ‘I’m mad, me’ schtick is as irritating now as it was then.
Back to the Future
How can anyone not love this movie? Popularising many of the time travel tropes that are canon today, this featured Michael J Fox at his most likeable as he avoided snogging his mum, invented rock n roll and tried to stop himself from being erased from the present. Has there been a more iconic time travel device than the DeLorean? I don’t think so.
This show has visited the time travel well several times (the first time, with a smart nod to Back to the Future), heading both back in time (the Wild West, the era of the Untouchables, or the early days of Mary and John’s marriage) and into the future (a white suited Sam superb as Lucifer, while stoner sex guru Cas was hilarious). Though lately such episodes have felt like filler – Dean’s encounter with Eliot Ness was entertaining but a fairly straight rerun of the Western episode – at their best they are entertaining and inventive.
You can’t really mention time travel without the Doctor, can you? Though some of his travels have been a little cheesy, watching the Doctor tinker with history is always a joy, whether it’s annoying Queen Victoria, inspiring Shakespeare or cheering up Van Gogh.
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The best thing about the film was the fact that Eric Bana was frequently not wearing very much, but Audrey Niffenegger’s book is simply lovely: difficult and challenging at first, as it hops between dates, it develops into a beautiful, grown up love story that will have you blubbing.
Time After Time
Go ahead, judge me, but I love this movie. In the very definition of high concept, H G Wells pursues Jack the Ripper to the 20th century after the latter uses the former’s time machine to make his escape. (And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I love the equally cheesy Somewhere in Time, when Christopher ‘Superman’ Reeve goes back in time and falls in love with Jane ‘Dr Quinn Medicine Woman’ Seymour. Clearly, my standards when it comes to time travel are fairly low.)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
There have been numerous versions of the Mark Twain classic A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, but while it may not be remotely faithful to the book, (um, I haven’t read the book, so this is just a guess on my part) this Bing Crosby vehicle is my favourite (how can you match the IMDB plot summary ‘a singing mechanic from 1912 finds himself in Arthurian Britain’?) In fairness it’s a film I remember fondly from childhood rather than any recent re-watch, so I may be glossing over numerous flaws, but I couldn’t complete my list without it…