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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Primer': A Beguiling, Utterly Mind-Bending Time Travel Narrative

Movie poster for the film Primer starring Shane Carruth and David Sullivan

"Primer" (2004) is a fascinating and strikingly progressive take on the theoretics of time travel, crafted by burgeoning young filmmaker Shane Carruth ("Upstream Color") on a shoestring budget of just $7,000. Despite the meager allotment of funds, it's a fully realized tale of two young tech engineers, Aaron (Caruth) and Abe (David Sullivan), who inadvertently create a time travel apparatus—setting the stage for a beguiling tale of divergence and deception.

Holed up in Abe’s garage, the pair labors over technological experiments in their available free time, hoping for a breakthrough that will provide lucrative development opportunities. During one test involving electromagnetic reduction, Aaron unwittingly creates a time loop side-effect that he can build into a receptacle in order to transport any contents backward in time. This genesis of “The Box” becomes the inception of a device that ultimately leads the two close friends down deviating paths of unforeseen and perilous discord.

Previously employed as a software developer, Carruth delved headlong into cinematic achievement with “Primer”, his first feature film. The results are as captivating as they are profoundly complex, as he eschew’s accessibility for a far more cerebral depiction of scientific advancement and human entanglement. It’s dense, intricate and wildly inventive cinema—a highly encouraging debut from an enormously promising young filmmaking talent.


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