Submitted by highliner108 t3_z72be3 in books

So, for some reason when movies try to adapt HG Wells The Time Machine, they make it almost a science fantasy type story, with the 2002 movie being a really good example.

I hate this.

The Time Machine isn’t a science fantasy story, it’s a horror story, and it’s entire plot is essentially the author walking into progressively darker and more horrific versions of earth. I’m not sure if it’s just to depressing to put in a mainstream film, but the parts of the book where the Time Traveler sees the what the Morlocks and Eloi evolve into are some of the most interesting parts to me, in part because they remind me of books like Man After Man that pose the idea of humanity splintering off into unrecognizable subspecies that eventually stop remembering that they where even the same creatures once. This idea really interests me, although unfortunately it’s really not touched on that much in most fiction iv been able to find.

What’s especially frustrating is that while there are a billion depictions of Morlocks, there aren’t that many of the giant crabs/butterflies, fewer still of the rabbit-creatures or the giant centipedes, and virtually none of the weird tentacle creatures that end up as the last major animal on the planet.



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Wadsworth_McStumpy t1_iy4c133 wrote

I'm pretty sure most of the filmmakers never actually read the book. They just saw the previous movie and based the newer one on that.

In fact, recent movies have caused me to wonder whether modern filmmakers actually can read.


just_reading_along1 t1_iy4gkyj wrote

I only know the 1960 movie...and while the depiction of the Morlok may not match the book, the horror comes across really well imo. It gave me nightmares for weeks when I first saw it as a kid and it still makes me uncomfortanle to watch as an adult.


artaig t1_iy4iy6w wrote

I feel those are superficial things than in a condense format (movie) could take the viewer away from the real monsters. So instead of "the movie about some creatures" you would think "the movie about giant monsters".

The monsters are the Morlocks, enslaved humans by the capital, forced to work underground and deprived of their humanity, brutalized, that end up in the top of the food chain.

In yet another premonition of HG Wells the parallelisms with Soviet Russia are uncanny. The masses of brutalized peasantry, finally revolting and devouring the upper class. But the conditions to which they were subjected to hindered them for the coming decades. The brutalization stayed as their way of life; corruption, bribes, abuse of power...


highliner108 OP t1_iy4nhfj wrote

I guess the issue is that it’s sort of like giving a history of the USSR and just stopping in like, the seventies. The Morlocks are definitely monstrous (as where the early Eloi and the humans who evolved into them), but part of the idea of the book is that that monsteresqeness will eventually rob the entire species of its very sapience. It’s hard to talk about the USSR as a state if you don’t talk about how that state collapsed, and the Morlocks are a similar thing.


[deleted] t1_iy5ewca wrote

Movies have no interest in faithful adaptations. They're interested in taking the bits that might make a successful movie and changing or leaving the rest.


highliner108 OP t1_iy5u268 wrote

Yeah, and people are into horror, so why on earth hasn’t anyone done the economically smart thing and combined brand recognition with horror (a notoriously easy genre to get into.)


[deleted] t1_iy74lac wrote

Because scifi has a far broader appeal than scifi horror. So the economically smart thing to do is what they've been doing. Get rid of the horror and make your movie have broader appeal.

Cost effective investing is the whole reason they got rid of of the horror aspect in the first place.


Abandondero t1_iy9wscz wrote

The problem is that they try to adapt novels, which have too much plot for a movie. First they have to extract a smaller story, then they have to alter it to make it coherent. Novellas would be the ideal thing to adapt, but they don't have the name recognition.


[deleted] t1_iy9y3iu wrote

It's not the problem anyway. Movies work very differently than written stories. There's plenty of movies based on short stories with the same non-problem.

Movies will always just take what works, ignore what doesn't and change everything around to make sure it fits a visual medium.


D3athRider t1_iy56iza wrote

>The Time Machine isn’t a science fantasy story, it’s a horror story, and it’s entire plot is essentially the author walking into progressively darker and more horrific versions of earth.

My perspective is that's its clearly meant as dystopian fiction rather than horror. H.G. Wells was on the socialist side of the political spectrum for most of his life, and the divide between the Morlocks and Eloi were, at least to me, obviously meant to comment on class war (workers vs capitalist elite/owners of the means of production). But I agree, I don't think I've seen an adaptation that reflects the social commentary side of the story. The message, in either case, is stripped away. Kind of like War of the Worlds was part social commentary on British colonialism.


highliner108 OP t1_iy57f9w wrote

I definitely agree that it’s dystopian, I guess I’d just argue that those don’t have to necessarily irreconcilable, if that makes sense? Like, it’s definitely leaning towards the class war angle with Morlocks/Eloi, and with the 2100 society in “The Sleeper Wakes,” but I think when it moves to The Grey Man it’s kind of becoming more horror than social commentary, if only because rabbits and centipedes typically lack political prowess. Not to mention that the tentacle creatures at the end are kind of there own thing and I don’t think we learn where they come from, and they’re definitely more in the realm of horror.

Edit: also, when I say horror, part of it is also cosmic horror. Like, the idea of a giant centipede is scary, but not as scary as the idea that human society could eventually cause humans to become those centipedes.