Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

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milk114
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 5:38 pm
Location: Mar Vista, Los Angeles

#1 Post by milk114 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 6:43 pm

Not what I expected to watch this morning at 630am on Showtime. Absolutely great. I remembered the premise from when it first came out, but had no idea of the streamlined filming and great exploration of consequences. Next to nothing has been said on this film. Anyone seen it? I hope this isn't a one-off for Carruth, that he's actively working on something new. I'll definitely need to see it again to be sure I followed everything. Anyway, I'm still buzzing from this movie and wanted to see what others thought.

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MichaelB
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#2 Post by MichaelB » Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:03 pm

I reviewed it (very positively) for Sight & Sound in mid-2005 - thankfully off a DVD screener rather than a one-off theatrical showing, as the distributors didn't supply a synopsis and I had to write one alongside the review.

I think it took me two-and-a-half viewings to get everything more or less straight - the "half" being a quick skim through afterwards as a final fact-checking exercise.

Costas
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am

#3 Post by Costas » Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:17 pm

MichaelB wrote:I reviewed it (very positively) for Sight & Sound in mid-2005 - thankfully off a DVD screener rather than a one-off theatrical showing, as the distributors didn't supply a synopsis and I had to write one alongside the review.

I think it took me two-and-a-half viewings to get everything more or less straight - the "half" being a quick skim through afterwards as a final fact-checking exercise.
I read your review in S&S and enjoyed it a lot. Aside from the fact that it's an admirable achievement considering they did it on such a small budget, it's a fascinating film that doesn't shy away from the consequences of it's main premise. I watched it twice within a three hour period and had an "ahh!" moment after 15 minutes of my second viewing.

That's not to say that I fully understand everything that's going on. A large part of the fun is trying to piece together what the hell is actually going on.

It's far from perfect, but I think it's a triumph of ideas over funding and an utterly inspiring piece of work.

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flyonthewall2983
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#4 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri Nov 17, 2006 11:56 pm

I'd try and watch it twice, but I value my vision too much to watch it again and end up trying to claw my eyes out.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#5 Post by colinr0380 » Thu May 24, 2007 8:22 pm

A Wikipedia article is available here that helps to straighten out the events in the film! It certainly puts that time travel map included with the DVD of Tim Burton's remake of Planet of the Apes to shame in its complexity!

I think I need to take an aspirin and go and lie down after working through it though! :D

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exte
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:27 pm
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Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#6 Post by exte » Sun Dec 21, 2008 1:39 am

I'm confused. After looking the director up, I'm surprised he hasn't done anything since. Anyone know what's up with this?

Peter-H
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:02 pm

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#7 Post by Peter-H » Mon Apr 11, 2011 12:36 am

The narrative structure in the film is briliant, it has this very complex narrative that when you first watch it you don't even realize how complex it is, then you look online and you realize. Unlike other confusing movies like Muholland Drive that hide the answers to the puzzles by hiding it in obscure symbols and hard to notice things, the answers to this movie are hidden in plane sight, but it's still so confounding and fascinating. Narratively it's like they fit big ben into a show box.

He hasn't made a movie in 7 years, what gives? Was the movie a one time thing? I heard he is helping with "Looper." But just as like a consultant on scientific feasibility and such.

EDIT: On imdb there is a film called "A Topiary" which comes out in 2013. I heard talk of this a while ago. It appearently was/is going to have a 10 mil budget. There was much discussion over the mammoth length (240 pages) of the script, as well as the absurd level of density of the script.

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oldsheperd
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 5:18 pm
Location: Rio Rancho/Albuquerque

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#8 Post by oldsheperd » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:51 pm

My Dad claimed he was afraid the film was going to give him an anyeurism.

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tarpilot
Joined: Thu Jan 20, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#9 Post by tarpilot » Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:13 am

Figured this would be the best place to ask this. I was trying to come up with films or television shows involving time travel that actually depict the precise moment when the inventor of time travel realizes that he fucking invented time travel. I know I have to be missing some, but the only one I could come up with was the awesomely stupid Retroactive, with Frank Whaley screaming "I did it!" after he sends his lil' mouse buddy back in time. I guess Fringe kinda halfway counts with
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Walter remembering that he invented time travel when he discovers that his teleportation slash time machine was what was in the safe-deposit boxes. And then there's the great "White Tulip" episode with Peter Weller which I just feel like mentioning because it's great.

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knives
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#10 Post by knives » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:01 pm

I think an episode of Duck Tales had it.

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Brian C
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:58 am
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Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#11 Post by Brian C » Thu Jul 21, 2011 1:09 pm

Back to the Future had the moment where he tested it and realized it worked, which I think is as close as you can get, unless an inventor accidentally invents time travel.

Nasir007
Joined: Sat May 25, 2019 11:58 am

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#12 Post by Nasir007 » Sun Sep 20, 2020 3:00 pm

I saw this yesterday night just to see if Tenet took any elements from this and godalmighty.

You want to talk about complex? Jesus christ Tenet is child's play compared to this.

This is a mindfuck if ever there was one and I must say I had dreams about this when I slept last night.

This movie honest to god messes with your mind in ways you can't imagine. It makes you question reality it self.

It is almost like The Treasure of Sierra Nevada where time travel is the gold. The film is 75 mins and the first 45 mins are devoted to discovering time travel. Rest assured there is so much monkeying around in the next 30 mins you will be befuddled for weeks. Christopher Nolan wishes he could come up with something like this.

Overall an impressive film considering it was made for literally 7 grand.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#13 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:43 am

I do like the idea that somewhere in a storage facility there is a box powering down from which the real Shane Carruth will emerge to find out what havoc his double has apparently been wreaking whilst he has been in there! "You were supposed to be making three movies a year and instead you've been doing this!"

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liam fennell
Joined: Tue Jul 20, 2010 2:54 pm

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#14 Post by liam fennell » Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:10 am

I only saw Primer once years ago and I don't remember the mechanics exactly, but I think about it an awful lot still. It's the scariest horror movie ever made IMO! Maybe the only truly scary horror movie, even. At least I can't imagine and wouldn't want to see a more effective one! No doubt a lot eluded my comprehension but all the same the list of nightmarish things I half-remember is enough to scare the pants off me whenever I think about it:
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the possibility of boxes in boxes, the big box a guy can live inside that I guess would make him the king of time, watching one's earlier self, kidnapping one's earlier self, impersonating one's earlier self, re-doing events to make them "perfect", random people appearing who are also running around causing mayhem, the way everything happens/has already happened the instant time travel is invented seemingly, and above all of course fun time travel quickly leading to all-out incomprehensible time wars that reveal true natures and destroy friendships. . .

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aox
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Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#15 Post by aox » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:12 am

I think it is one of the best sci-fi films ever made, and resides safely alongside the heavyweights of the genre. I probably watch it once a year.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#16 Post by therewillbeblus » Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:50 am

Conversely I loved the film when I first saw it in college and in subsequent years had fun analyzing the complex map of loops with friends, but was unimpressed revisiting it for the sci fi project recently. The last act still works pretty well, but I felt apathetic towards basically every element once the scientific idea itself was no longer my sole focus of excitement. I appreciate the intelligence and successful low budget filmmaking, but his follow up is far more interesting playing with some similar philosophical and psychological themes of power and control, management of consequences, and meaning-making, as well as an array of new ones that flesh out the identity concepts I feel Primer doesn’t explore as thoroughly as it could have.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#17 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:12 pm

I agree with liam. Beyond any sci-fi elements I think the thing that sticks with me the most about the film is the way it starts with wide-eyed enthusiasm and pie in the sky chatter (so much chatter!) around the kitchen table and garage tinkering in order to put the world to rights only to, once they have had their chance to do it their way, at the other end of the film end with gigantic, impersonal time machines inside large faceless facilities half a world away. The cottage industry project between two friends fractures split personality-style into the ability to right wrongs that take the form of personalised vendettas by someone fancying themselves as a superhero on the one hand; and corporate exploitation and franchisement on the other. What profits a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?

Nasir007
Joined: Sat May 25, 2019 11:58 am

Re: Primer (Shane Carruth, 2004)

#18 Post by Nasir007 » Fri Sep 25, 2020 12:40 pm

aox wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 11:12 am
I think it is one of the best sci-fi films ever made, and resides safely alongside the heavyweights of the genre. I probably watch it once a year.
I think it is one of the most singular and remarkable films of its kind that I have seen. I would easily call it a classic. The film definitely has a lot going on even without time travel. There is genuine humanity there I feel.

But more than anything else, you thrill at the hustle of the low budget film-making. You delight at the fact that with literally chump change, they could conjure up something that made your brain melt and stare at the screen in amazement.

Like think about it -
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they did not even have the money to make a single shot of a person interacting with their time-traveling double even though that is crucial to the plot.
There are evasions built-in because they did not have the money to shoot some things. I think it adds to the mystique and allure of the film - the sheer imagination and creativity of it. I think this is going to be an enduring favorite with me though I don't really re-watch films. But I think about them! And read about them. And write about them. And I will be doing that repeatedly for this film.

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