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This article is concerned with time in science fiction films. Our contention is that the current fascination with the time travel motif can be understood in terms of an oppositional cultural narrative running counter to dominant forms of temporality within capitalism. Such a reading allows us to negotiate the wide (mass) appeal of films based on the time travel motif without resorting to the primal scene fantasy. Our argument challenges the views which dismiss mass culture as merely escapist. Specifically, we argue that the potentially subversive element of time travel films lies precisely in a particular conceptualization and experience of time and history as cyclical and in flux. This understanding of time is antithetical to the temporalities generated within late capitalist societies where time emerges as both linear and fragmented. Through the reading of films such as 12 Monkeys, Terminator and others we attempt to show that time in this context entails a possibility of intervention in history (both personal and social) and is presented as non-linear and non-teleological. © 2002, SAGE. All rights reserved.

Original publication

DOI

10.1177/0961463X02011002003

Type

Journal article

Journal

Time & Society

Publication Date

01/01/2002

Volume

11

Pages

209 - 231