Saturday, August 22, 2009

Time Traveler's Wife & Audrey Niffenegger

In the realm of science fiction, tales of time travel have always been my favourites, ever since reading H.G.Wells' classic "The Time Machine", long, long ago. Thinking on the topic bends the mind, confuses, yet fires the imagination. For writers and movie makers it has to be difficult not to let their creativity run amock, because nowadays scientists and physicists would eagerly leap upon any obvious deviation from supposed parameters of what "might" be a future possibility.

We saw "The Time Traveler's Wife" this week. Audrey Niffenegger wrote the novel upon which the movie is based. In spite of my interest in the concept of time travel, I just couldn't get into the novel, found it too confusing. It irritated and bored me enough to give up quite early on. Perhaps, for me, it combines two genres - romance and time travel; both can be utterly confusing on their own, so when combined, there was little chance of my assessing the book as "a good read". My husband enjoyed the novel though and he filled in any gaps in the storyline for me.

I hoped the movie would offer an easier-to-follow version of the inventive but rather complex story. It did, and yet it felt at times as though the bits which had to be omitted due to time constraints might have helped explain some still confusing aspects of the story.

I felt that the role of Henry, the time traveler, could have been better cast. Eric Bana is good to look at, but didn't strike me as a librarian, and this part of his "real" lifeline was skipped over, barely mentioned. I bet his superiors would have had plenty to say about his habit of unscheduled absence.

I could imagine Paul Giamatti in the Henry role, and though he's no glamour-pants, he has great depth, something Bana lacks. A non-glamorous actor who still entranced the female lead would, for me, have been an added layer of delight.

In a nutshell, the movie does its best with an almost impossible plot to put on film. Short of adding some helpful narration (perhaps by a grown-up daughter of the pair, from far into the "real" future) or pasting dates on the scenes where Henry had "jumped", I don't know how else it could have been tackled. There wasn't much in the way of props and background scenery to tell us what decade he'd fallen into, and Henry's appearance changed very little apart from a haircut at one point. An extra 30 minutes run-time would have given time for some additional clarification. It's annoying that those films which really don't need extra length have it, and those which truly need it, don't. I guess that this comes down, as always, to the almighty $$$$$$$$.

I have no idea how astrology might be involved in time travel! I'll not tackle that conundrum, but instead take a quick look at the natal chart of Audrey Niffenegger the writer who dreamed up this storyline.

Born 13 June 1963 in South Haven, Michigan. Time unknown. 12 noon chart below.

Oh yes - lots of writing planets here - Sun and Venus in Gemini, Uranus, Mars and Pluto clustered together in Virgo - both Gemini and Virgo are ruled by Mercury the writer's planet.

Saturn in its old-style home of Aquarius takes on a looser more quirky face than when placed in other signs - and this planet of discipline wears its quirky outfit well in this author's plot-work. I note that she has another novel due for publication in the Fall: "Her Fearful Symmetry", "a ghost story set around Highgate Cemetery in London." She has also written some graphic novels, including one called "The Three Incestuous Sisters". It seems that Saturn in quirky Aquarius and Uranus (Aquarius' other ruler) in writer's sign, Virgo, close to spooky Pluto shows through her choices of subject matter. Her natal Moon, somewhere in the first half of dreamy imaginative Pisces is easy to trace in her plot-lines too.

Ms Niffenegger, as well as being a writer, is an artist. Some of her paintings can be viewed at her website HERE.
A sample - and how apt for a Sun Gemini:

It's interesting that Mercury and Venus, the writers' and artists' planets respectively, are conjoined at the end and beginning of adjacent signs, Gemini and Taurus.

One other aspect which I like - as symbolic rather than astrological - is that Venus and Mercury are opposite Black Moon Lilith (the Moon's apogee - farthest point from Earth). Symbolically I see this as an extra indication that her writng and art are "far out".


Jennifer said...

Her two main characters in the novel are Geminis as well.

Twilight said...

Jennifer ~~~ Hi! Oh really? That must be mentioned somewhere in the book. I seem to recall a birthday being mentioned in the movie, but didn't pick up on its date.

Thanks - that's interesting ! :-)

anthonynorth said...

I love time travel stories - and they're about the hardest to write.

Twilight said...

Anthonynorth ~~~ Yes, I can imagine the difficulties - so many things to take into consideration!