This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #492, on the subject of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Temporal Anomalies.
As this picture starts to settle in my mind, it reminds me of Safety Not Guaranteed, in this regard: for most of the picture the idea that time travel might be possible is dangling in the air, then at the very end it happens, and it is so insignificant an event in the broad sweep of the film that it’s over before we know it. Don’t get me wrong–it definitely is a time travel movie, it’s just that the time travel, while critical to the plot, is not that major an element.
Before I proceed with the spoilers, I should probably mention that I was interviewed about my book The Essential Guide to Time Travel by its publisher Dimensionfold for their podcast series, available online as the Time Travel Episode with Mark Joseph Young. It’s eight minutes longer than an hour, but time travel fans might find it interesting.
I’m not sure I can say as much for this entry in the Indiana Jones series. Don’t misunderstand–I’m fond of Indie. I thought the fourth movie about the crystal skulls was way out of character for the series, but this one seems to have gotten back on track very nicely. This is the old Indiana accompanied by Sallah and getting into archaeology that is ultimately in some way magical despite his skepticism. In this case it’s connected to a machine built by Archimedes, which rumors claim can transport someone through time. Toward the end of World War II a scientist working for the Nazis discovers half of it, and the theory is that Archimedes broke it in half so that the invading army couldn’t take it. Ten years later that scientist is set on obtaining both halves so he can travel back to the end of the war and make himself Fuhrer, win the war, and establish a German empire.
At first he succeeds, outwitting the CIA and Indiana and calculating how to travel back to the time he wants. Indiana winds up on the plane, and his sidekick for this movie hijacks a plane which follows them, but the joke’s on the villain: Archimedes designed the machine as a way of bringing help back to his own time to save them from the invasion. In that sense it works, because as the bomber flies into the harbor it opens fire on the attacking fleet before crashing. Archimedes meets Indiana, who wants to stay, but his sidekick knocks him out with one punch and loads him on the other plane to return to the present.
The film has the flavor of fixed time. A couple of artifacts from the future are buried with Archimedes when they find his tomb, but these are delivered by the crashed airplane. It could be resolved under replacement theory with a fairly brief sawtooth snap into an N-jump termination, but there’s not enough time travel to make it worth the effort, and probably anyone who has read The Essential Guide or spent much time on the web site can see how to do that.
So as I say it’s a good movie, but not much to speak of in terms of time travel.