This post is about the 2011 film “In Time.”
But first, here’s my take on the state of the movie business.
At the macro level, “Hollywood” has suffered for two reasons: a) intellectual property theft (led largely by the Chinese) and b) the “lowest common denominator” effect.
By destroying props, injuring at least one character and frenetic-paced montage sequences, modern productions intend to traumatize their audience into submission; ultimately seeking to "condition the unconscious" through symbolism (see Carl Jung) Even patrons with low scoring intelligence quotients can follow along. Hence, the denominator effect.
It is via this post-“shock” acceptance, that the audience can be rehabilitated by our "developed" economy's inculcated, MPAA censorship-approved lessons.
“Green lit” productions from the “left” imbue their captives with evolving lessons about expected and permissible social mores, or at least fantasies as to what is crossing a line should be versus what bending it is is.
Film theorists explain the history behind this, but the concise form is that film has always been used an economic and political “propagandized” connection. All the world leaders since the industrial world occurred have so framed their constituencies in this fashion.
For those who haven't seen this film, wiki’s synopsis reads fair: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Time_(film).
The key issue involves the notion of time consumption. In this science fiction world, the material categories of raison d’etre are assumed: shelter, sustenance and basic safety. Thus, there is “no need” for currency, as we know it to be in a capitalist world - as in one US dollar.
Currency, economically, means denominated consideration. Currency is not inherently an asset, it’s a governmentally regulated means of benefit and detriment, from which the body politic creates relations to one another via state rules.
Will Salas, the effeminately played protagonist played by Justin Timberlake, makes, ironically, time-denominating, or regulating, machines. It is ironic because he has so little time left in his life, only about two days from the movie’s commencement. Thus, he was given three years of life as he is age 28.
The movie accurately explains human’s biology, the body no longer “matures”, but begins to degrade, at about the age of 25. The characters are reminded of this by a thirteen digit time display embedded in each person’s forearm.
The working assumption is that the world’s populace can hypothetically live into eternity because of a scientific, genetic discovery.
Will’s plight is typical of most “little guy” characters, his origins derive from an industrialist city where his opportunities for financial discretion and advancement is unfortunately predestined.
He works in a factory so that he can earn more time, which is exchanged for things like rent or coffee. But the governmental authorities, called “time keepers”, as well as all merchants, exclusively deal with the “inner-city” patrons from behind barriers (such as one encounters in most banks).
So it is with barriers or numbered zones, by which this dystopic city of Dayton (shot largely in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and Pasadena) both confines and constricts its time-deprived subject from more desirable locations like New Greenwich.
Without startle, Will, whose name has a noted Nietzschean connection, shall inevitably escape and travel outside the impoverish Zone 12 from which he derives.
He achieves this by a gratuitous gift from an existential, Solomaic immortal-like male suit in a bar named Hamilton. Immortal because Hamilton has nearly a 100 years of life on his displayed clock. Wise, yet nihilistic, because Hamilton wastefully lacks any appreciation of his good fortune so many prize. Will saves this well dressed and coifed gentleman from some local criminals who take substantial steps in attempt to thieve [sic], and thus kill, him.
In return, the suicide desiring Hamilton surreptitiously gifts Will his years upon their reaching a terminal shelter from the crime scene.
With all this newly found time, Will can purchase services and goods that lead to his journey into New Greenwich (shot at the Avenue of the Stars – Beverly Hills).
Not unlike the US Dollar’s color, green, this class based setting is a highly sought after location (shot in Irvine and Beverly Hills).
Will’s successful gambling places him in a better creditor status, but he is concurrently pursued by the investigating time keepers.
Will accepts a redux gambling opportunity from his previously defeated competitor, a majorly trademark named-branded time seller (representing a banker-type), named Phillipe.
But Will's seemingly pre-destined fate of economic cog is scoured after by the politce state agents - the Time Keepers.
In the process of Will’s seeking time, he must now protect his attainment of it. Contingencies of survival become more crucial, with time "on his side." Genetically, he was not so entitled, but the carrot of possibility in economic progression and advancement is dangled, for him, and thus the audience, to be worthy bate.
The forgoing analysis of the base facts present the most consequential question. It is, whether American’s, or citizen’s of developed and emerging economies, accept the material apparatus from which valuations are attached and class relations are constructed.
In the battle of ideas, In Time poses a plain dillemma to its English speaking audience, will you accept the time allocated to your young, “generation alphabet” life?
In a Hegelian fashion, a centralized state is contrasted with a free market, propertied one.
On the one hand, the Marxist and Leninist articulated writings are relied on to juxtapose need from want. On the other, wanting more time, alone, can be achieved by mere association with “propertied circle’s, who, paradoxically, create it (value, or time).
The very concept of nation-state identity, or Social Contract (as Rouseau wrote of), is questioned in the film when Will replies to the initial intake investigation by the Chief Time Keeper: “It’s not illegal to travel.”
One of the many Francophile founders, Alexander Hamilton, is thought of by the above said “immortal” who gifts Will the bountiful time to life. Hamilton was also one of the founders of our Constitution and first Secretary of Treasury.
Once again, a post-industrialized, post-rust belt, post “manufacturing” America is called into question. There are leading questions, with one unifying theme: will it last?
Can “the western” world of production and entitlements survive?
Is the year really 2011?
Perhaps it is the year 5772 or 4709 as Hebrew or Chinese calendar’s might say.
The “seven” time categories (second, minute, hour, day, week, month and year) are denominated in 13 digit arrangements (following the Astrological, or Helenic, calendar, in contrast to the Augustan twelve hour and month cycles).
The most seemingly trivial satire was the number of years Will, with the aid of his new love interest Silivia (played by the lovely Amanda Seyfried), eventually burglar (lawfully[?] by public necessity) from her father Phillipe (above mentioned banker). It is a million years.
Why a million?
Perhaps a reference to being a “millionaire,” it was confounding, I found it undeveloped.
Perhaps Phillipe’s statement: “We can always create more”, shines some light on the notion that the undergirding assumption of evolution, that science can study and propound further development of whatever valuable material is necessary to our interconnected world, is (hu)man made.
In this sense, social engineering has been reduced to a science, a premise without objection, from which no Supreme Being is recalled, let alone mentioned.
Will is thus left free, within time, to remove the economic institution that is “cost of living.”
Indeed, this is what he and Silvia do, by spreading the one-million year time credit machine taken from Phillipe’s vault, they gift it to the time expiring pedestrians in front of the neon-colored charity doing business as “The Mission.”
In the 21st century, one questions how many in the audience would appreciate the The Scope Trial: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/statcase.htm
In it, Tennessee sought to criminalize any public school's cirricula that explained man's origins with an evolutionary premise.
Nearly one-hundred years later, the reverse is true, any form of "spiritual" acceptance is banned from implied, generally accepted opinion.
In reference to my earlier thoughts on the state of Hollywood, I contend "In Time" proved a bona fide production, and return to, an "adult movie" (in the 20th century sense of the phrase).