Time is a fickle thing, it always has been. History has shown us multiple ways of using time, figuring out what works best, and now we have come to minutes, hours, and days rather than just seasons.
One of the most popular forms of using time within narratives is time warps or jumps. Going back to the past or throwing characters into the future always gives the audience a “What if” to look forward to, but as seen in my review of The Lake House (starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock) it doesn’t always work out. The problem with The Lake House was that the main reason for why the two characters met was because of the death of one character – what the heck?
Playing with time is an extremely difficult thing, and I implore that every writer, artist, filmmaker, poet even, to take care when it comes to manipulating it. You must think of every possible scenario that could happen – one of the questions I was asked in high school was “If you could go back in time and kill Hitler as a child before he had even begun to become what he was known for, would you do it?” A lot of people will immediately say yes, as expected by my history teacher, who then read us a story of Hitler’s parents bringing him into the world. Could you kill a child? Morally that is so wrong, so when it comes down to it the Holocaust would still have happened.
No one knows what’s going to happen, no one can even predict what may or may not happen because such is life. Trying to put such into a book or film is asking for trouble – unless you look at every single possible life that may be impacted. Once things have happened in the past, you simply cannot have the same present or future – if Hitler had been killed as a child, for example, or never even born, millions would have to have learnt about something else in History classes, a lot more people may have survived, and who knows if that would’ve been one of the most insanely “well done” (this is not me supporting Hitler or the acts he committed, nor is it me praising the acts of the Nazis) genocides. This is well said in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – although it’s not one of the greatest movies, no matter how much Alice wishes to change time, she realises she can only learn from it.
Everything I have spoken about directly refers to people changing the past, sure, but the same occurs to changing to one’s future. You cannot stop people from dying, nor can you hurt someone without hurting another. For example, in Supernatural one episode has Dean Winchester trade places with death. One life he struggles to take is that of a child, and by choosing not to take her life he inevitably lead to the death of a nurse who was meant to operate on said child as she left the hospital early, and then lead to the possibility of her husband drink driving emotionally in an attempt to end his own life. In the end, Dean still had to take the child’s life as there would be consequences if he didn’t.
You cannot play with time unless you take into account all the lives around them. You cannot play with time unless you think about consequences as well as benefits. You can play with time if you take every single scenario into the equation – kinda like the old Goosebumps books did when they gave the kids options of what they would do in a certain scenario, thus leading to numerous endings.
Tik tok, try not to let time get the better of you.