Friday, May 31, 2019

See You Yesterday (2019)

WARNING:  There are minor spoilers ahead.  I will be discussing the ending.

If you had access to a time machine, what would you use it for?  Stopping Hitler is usually the go-to answer.  He was responsible for the deaths of millions.  To save that many people would be a good thing.  Right?  Well, we have no idea what those millions of people would have gone on to do.  I’m not saying that murdering them was justifiable.  It’s just that it’s impossible to know what their impact would have been.

We also have to consider when you would eliminate Hitler.  To kill during the time of his atrocities, it’s possible that Himler would have assumed control and been much worse.  If you killed him much earlier, there’s no promise that someone else would have taken advantage of the same factors that put Hitler in power.  Time travel is a lot more complicated than people realize, both morally and practically.

When Claudette 'CJ' Walker invents a time machine, she sees it as a way to get a full ride to MIT.  She and her friend, Sebastian J. Thomas, actually build a pair and use it to go back in time a day, where they promise that they won’t alter things.  CJ does alter things, but it doesn’t seem to affect the present much.

Things get complicated when her brother, Calvin, dies.  Because of the funeral and surrounding morning, she misses the science expo that would have allowed her to show off the technology.  It’s not lost on her, though, that she has a way to save her brother.  CJ is able to make it so that she could go back and save her brother.  If only it were that easy.

In their first attempt, CJ and Sebastian aren’t able to reach Calvin in time.  In another attempt, Calvin lives and Sebastian dies.  It would seem that no matter what they do, someone dies.  The movie ends with CJ making another attempt on her own.

There’s a part of me that thinks that the movie could have done more, but I think that’s the point.  There are some situations that seem impossible.  I think that the movie could be used as a conversation starter.  It’s not so much about the time travel as it is about the social issue.  Calvin is shot by a police officer chasing two black men.  What does it say about how CJ is trying to prevent his death?

We don’t get to see that many attempts by CJ or Sebastian.  The movie could give thousands of iterations of CJ and/or Sebastian trying to save Calvin.  Yes, there are ethical concerns.  Saving Calvin could make matters worse.  What would happen if the police had actually caught the actual criminals?  If you did save Calvin, why stop there?  These are important questions, but the alternative is giving up, though.  Do you accept fate knowing that you have a mechanism that allows you to defy it?

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