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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

because time machines aren’t pink enough?

Anna Smith at the Guardian laments the lack of women time-travelers. Silly Anna: only boys can travel through time:

Poor Rachel McAdams. Three time-travel movies and not a whiff of the action. First was 2009’s The Time Traveller’s Wife, in which Eric Bana played a Chicago librarian darting through time while his on-screen wife McAdams plodded on faithfully in the present. Then, two years later, came Midnight in Paris. Owen Wilson got to party in the roaring 1920s every day of his holiday, while oblivious fiancee McAdams went sightseeing. And now Richard Curtis’s new film, About Time, sees McAdams stay home as her partner Domhnall Gleeson goes time-travelling in secret, in a bid to change his past and have a better future. This time it’s a gift – passed down the male line of the family.

McAdams is not alone in being overlooked. From 1981’s Time Bandits to the more recent Hot Tub Time Machine, sci-fi films have rarely allowed female characters to leave the present. When Marty McFly’s girlfriend tried to come along for the ride in Back to the Future II, she was hastily sedated by the Doc for “asking too many questions”. In their excellent adventures, Bill and Ted travelled to medieval times to meet some “babes”; true, the women were then permitted to time-travel – but only with male characters, and purely to serve their needs. Hardly the sort of time-travelling role models women need.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if women protagonists had the opportunity to keep jumping back in time until they could get their lives just the way they want them? Ah, but that would require a movie with a female protagonist…


  • LaSargenta

    Well, there was that p.o.s. a few years back 13 Going On 30…but I think she did it to ‘learn a lesson’, not to actually fix things or have an adventure

  • RogerBW

    I thought about rotating this into other roles. What about female space pilots? Actually, they do better: Ferro in Aliens, Starbuck in new Battlestar Galactica if we’re allowing TV-only, Zoe in Firefly/Serenity.

    Ah, here’s a female time traveller: Peggy Sue Got Married. (Edit: never mind, it’s in the article.)

  • PJK

    There is of course the excellent Japanese animated film called “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808506/ ) which features a girl with the ability to leap through time.

    Its a very good movie.

    And I just saw it mentioned in the article, so I’ve basically made this post for nothing

  • Ide Cyan

    You need to watch Being Erica.

  • Lisa

    Peggy Sue and 13 going on 30 are in the vein of romantic comedies though – they’re all about the guy but Being Erica is fantastic.

  • cal

    I agree. Being Erica was the perfect fantasy for me: going back in time to fix your past mistakes (but not those of others) and getting to enjoy the consequences. There is no time machine; it’s just a magical plot device. However, it allows the main character to fix many things in her messed up life; family relationships, her career, romances, etc. Very good stuff, in my opinion.

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