Science and the cinema

Our own PD Smith at Kafka’s Mouse:

Screenhunter_02_jun_05_1423In H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine, the experience of travelling through the fourth dimension is cinematic: the Time Traveller sits like a film-goer, watching the accelerated passage of time, as the time machine’s dials spin ever faster. The effect is of rapid cutting and slow fade-out: “The night came like the turning out of a lamp, and in another moment came tomorrow. The laboratory grew faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter.” As Keith Williams says, time in the novel becomes a “movie reel, speeded forwards and backwards, or stopped at will”. Remarkably, The Time Machine was written before Wells had seen a film. It was published in 1895, the very year the cinematograph was invented by the Lumière brothers. As film historian Ian Christie has said, their invention “quite literally made time travel a spectator sport”.

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