Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Time Travel Travesty

One of the staples of Science Fiction is Time Travel.  You know how it goes: Captain Kirk goes back in time and Falls in love with a girl who has to die or Hitler wins WWII.  Or Marty McFly goes back in time, and messes things up, so his parents don’t get married.  He spends the rest of the story trying to get them back together.

The main focus of these stories is almost always getting things back to normal.  A sort of time travel directive where nothing may change.  Minimal interference.  Essentially the “Leave no trace” law of camping applied to chrono-jumps.

I think that sucks.

For two reasons.  The first is fairly simple.  We’ve just spent an hour or two of our lives and all that happened the status quo was preserved.  The only  people who know anything happened are the time travelers.

The Second is a little more complex. One of the best parts of a story are the characters.  Those poor souls whose life plays out for us in the stage of our mind.  Going through pain and suffering to bring us enjoyment.  Like imaginary gladiators, they fight through trials, and oppositions, and we live it through them.  It just hit me today, while watching Shred Forever, the fourth movie in the Shrek Franchise .( Time Travel is essentially make believe genocide.

Warning:  Here there be Spoilers

While not technically time travel, Shrek Forever deals with changes in the timeline.  Shrek starts the movie happily married with triplets.  (kids, not wives)  But very soon he has a midlife crisis.  Things aren’t as good as they used to be.  No one is scared of him anymore, he doesn’t even feel like an ogre.

Shrek and the Family
Enter Rumpelstiltskin.  A crafty little bugger who tricks Shrek into trading a day for a day.  Shrek gets a day as an free, feared ogre, but Rumpelstiltskin  gets a day from Shrek’s Past.  Good ol’ Shrek doesn’t think anything of it, but soon realizes he has given up the day he was born.  So after his day as an ogre is over, he won’t exist.  But he does discover one catch.  If he can find loves true kiss before the day ends, things go back to normal.

Well, that’s no easy.  Fiona, his wife in the original timeline., has become a Man Hater, Amazon Queen who leads an army of Ogres against King Rumpelstiltskin and his horde of witches.  We get to meet a ton of new ogres including a cook who serves chimichangas at the battle.  And we meet donkey, who has forgotten Shrek and pulls a Cart around every day.  Plus we meet Puss in Boots, but he is more Garfield than warrior.  He’s put on a weight and lives a Fiona’s pretty kitty.

Donkey and Puss have some of the most growth in the Story.  They go from the everyday “man” trying to do his job, to heroes, risking their lives for their friends.  And the army of ogres is full of ogres of honor.

But in the end, after Shrek finally gets the smooch from Fiona, we see each one of our new friends slowly disappear, even Fiona, who is much more interesting as a warrior princess, fades to nothing.  They no longer exist. 

Not only are they gone, but their deaths are not even honored.  Shrek appears back with his wife, and all is well.  He doesn’t seem to grieve the loss of his ogre brethren or the warrior wife he had to woo all over, or his new donkey friend.  He just happily goes along with his old life.

And we’re left, with an entire world silenced.  The characters we’ve cared about killed, and no one cares.

Time travel truly is a holocaust.  Its time storytellers treated it as such.