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I don't mean to be rude here Comrade, but at this stage I don't see how I can avoid it unless I simply don't reply to your posts in this thread again. So that's what I'll do, if that's ok with you, because you don't seem able to understand what's being said to you, and instead keep trying to strawman your way out of the hole of incomprehension you've dug for yourself. But I will say that no-one whom you namecheck was forced onto the internet 'just to to find out what happens' in Primer, no-one, apart from you, is using Doctor Who as a totally inappropriate example in a rubbish argument to set against the very deliberate and considered way that simultaneity of plot strands is presented in Primer, and no-one, apart from you, is singularly failing to see that 'keeping the audience perfectly aware of the basic events of the film' (if I'm divining the meaning of that somewhat vaguely-worded concept correctly) is entirely against the spirit, and point, of the film. Your points, such as they are, have all been more than adequately answered by several people, over and over again. That you can't see that this is the case, and continue to misconstrue my references to Dr Who as 'complaints', is fairly revealing, as is the fact that you think Inception is 'probably even more complicated' than Primer, and that now - quite amazingly - you've decided that Primer is, in any case, not even 'a very complicated film'.

I think you're just a bit confused. Not by Primer, just about films in general, what the point of them can be, and what plots and narrative can be used for. Art isn't really about clarity, you know? It's sometimes about making your brain go for a workout, as well as your emotions. 'Man meets woman in hotel and talks to her about what happened the year before'. Takes all of two minutes to tell that story in an episode of I'm Alan Partridge, so fuck knows why Marienbad takes an hour and a half to do the same, yet at the end still leaves me a bit confused about what's happened. Pfft... Alain Resnais, what an amateur.

Adieu.

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I'll just add that cramming in loads of plot information in five minutes is not the sign of a bad film. Off the top of my head both The Usual Suspects and Mission Impossible use this very same technique to slightly bamboozle the audience and make them question what they've been watching in a completely different light. This is not bad film making. It's just another technique at the film maker's disposal. It's use in Primer does not make it a bad film.

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*Spoilers ahead*

what I've actually been complaining about, which is the insane decision to squeeze 90% of a very complicated plot into a five minute flashback that even in that time fails to properly explain the plot you're meant to be following.

OK. So we've reduced the complaint about Primer's storytelling to the flashback. Lets have a look at it, and see what you might be reasonably be expected to gather from the flashback first time around.

Now this comes just after the scary, confusing business of Granger which the film itself describes as "recursive" and "unknowable". I was pretty baffled after this section, but we now all agree that is completely deliberate, and even Comrade thinks this is good. Normally in a film like this we'd expect this bit (the party, Granger) to be thoroughly demonstrated across multiple possible versions, at least some time before the end of the film, but it never is and we remain uneasy about all of it. This is one of the main things people don't understand the first time through. They aren't expected to.

So we're confused and panicked, there's a comatose guy in the other room and Abe and Aaron are scared. Abe reveals his failsafe box. He goes back a long way. He gasses his double, and looks horrified. We're aware he's crossed a line here out of desperation. This is clearly explained and shown, and we're in no doubt about what has happened.

Now comes the turn. The screen goes white, it's a reset to Day 1. And this is where Abe suddenly looks staggered, and realises that Aaron has had the voice recording playing in his ear all along. The rug is pulled out from under us. We thought Aaron was one step behind Abe, but in fact he's been ahead of us all since before the film started. A certain amount of WTF is to be expected at this point.

"At this point there would have been some... discussion."

There now follows 2 minutes of flashback, with Narrator Aaron repeatedly intoning "How?" Abe wants to know "How?" So do we. This is the bit Comrade hates so much, because first time around he didn't understand the implications of this scene and "needed" to look at the Internet afterwards. It's my contention that we are not expected to get it all first time and it doesn't matter. We do understand the important stuff as it affects the characters. Understanding the actual mechanics of how the magic trick is performed is left as an exercise for the enthusiastic viewer. Some people hate that, I love it.

"How?"

The storage manifests are shown. We understand Aaron has found Abe's secret failsafe box. We see him discover it. This is clear.

"How?"

The modular design of the boxes. Folding one up inside another. They are not one time use only. They are recycleable.

This is not shown on screen. We don't see Aaron doing this, the complicated mechanics of the magic trick, reassembling boxes, moving them between storage lockers, Abe waking up just after Aaron, with Aaron now being one step ahead. We are just told a "rule" we've previously relied upon can in fact be broken. And now Aaron has the upper hand somehow. I have a clear memory of learning this the first time around and deciding I didn't have a hope of working out the full implications of this myself while the film was on. I'd just have to go along with it and see what happens. I do not think the director wants or expects the audience to get the details here. They just need to know that Aaron now has the initiative.

"How?"

Aaron drugging and overpowering himself. Putting him in the attic. This is clear, even if the chronology isn't, and ties into Abe doing the same with *his* double.

"How?"

"This is where I would have entered the story, or exited, depending on your reference. Because when Aaron came back the second time, it wasn't so easy. "

What the what now? I'm pretty sure we're not expected to get all this here. We can see the double of Aaron on screen (I don't think we actually need a special effect two-shot here, the cut using stand-ins reads fine on the screen). I think most people now know there are several Aarons in the film somewhere in some timeline, one seems to be leaving, one is in the attic, one has a plan to fix the party.

I don't think the first time viewer is aware of which Aaron is which, or even the mechanism by which we end up with permanent doubles knocking around. Up until now the doubles have been docile, getting back in the box on cue and safely disappearing. It's not made clear this is no longer happening. But we're left in little doubt there is now more than one Aaron, each with their own agenda. We're left a bit confused and scared because we can't keep track of them any more. The costuming differences are only really good enough to distinguish them on later viewings. Again I argue that an impressionistic sense of what's going on is all that is expected of us here. This clearly discombobulated some people.

And then we're left with the tape recording, the earpiece, and a 3 second head start on the world. We're out of flashback, we're back into the regular flow of the film and now things are painstakingly explained again.

"I've got a schedule." Now we're following the attempt to create a perfect moment at the party, Abe reluctantly following Aaron's plan, which carries us right to end of the film and their bitter parting. This is all clear.

And at the end of the film we're left with... how many doubles again? And one Aaron somewhere with a big sinister plan. Credits.

So to sum up: I do not expect the full details of the party, Granger, boxes inside failsafe boxes, the precise number of doubles, or a map of how every timeline intersects to be precisely understood by most first time viewers. I do not believe the director expected this either (except in the broadest terms).

But the film is perfectly readable nonetheless. The things that matter (the known knowns) are carefully shown and explained. The rest is hand-waved, don't worry about the man behind the curtain, but the information is there for those who want to look later (the things we know we don't know). And then some things remain forever unknowable. We are left to speculate, and imagine. And shudder.

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It's totally possible to create a complicated plot, and to have the feeling of events getting out of control that mirrors the confusion of the protagonists while also keeping the audience perfectly aware of the basic events of the film. Primer doesn't do this.

Nor does it try to. You don't like the film, it doesn't work for you. That is perfectly acceptable. You criticising it for the very things it set out to do just means it's not a film for you. Doesn't mean it's a failure of a film though. Titanic made little girls cry, so it is excellent at what it does.

Do you like David Lynch movies? Have you ever watched Jodorowsky?

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I've been struggling to think of good ways to clarify the bits Carruth skates over quickly without bringing the film to a juddering halt of Gamefaq exposition.

The precise details of the stunt Aaron pulls bringing the box back in the failsafe are a bit tricky. And I think you'd lose a great deal if you tried to pull off the great switcheroo using a simpler trick that didn't involve clever machinations with Aaron coldly outsmarting Abe and realising the new possibilities of their invention first.

As for the confusion of Aarons knocking about the place, maybe you could more carefully delineate which one was doing what from which timeline, but I'm not sure what that buys you. Maybe you could eliminate Narrator Aaron entirely (unless he serves some crucial purpose I'm forgetting) but the narration and the conclusion work so well it would be hard not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Maybe just have a bit like in Looper, where a character says "I don't want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we're going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws." Or "This time travel crap, just fries your brain like a egg..."

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OK. So we've reduced the complaint about Primer's storytelling to the flashback.

Speaking of time travel:

Basically, Primer is a just a bad film. It's all pretty good until the crazy bit, but then it just loses it. There's nothing wrong with having a complicated plot, but having as incredibly complicated a plot as Primer does and then telling 90% of that plot within a five-minute flashback, really badly just ruins the film.

When have I ever claimed otherwise? Glad to hear you're paying attention.

Anyway, you then, for some reason, launch into a shot-by-shot breakdown of the crazytown sequence. I didn't read it because 1), I'm still ill, and to be honest kind of sick of having to stave off essays of complaining for the crime of not liking a film you liked almost 10 years ago, 2) I didn't enjoy it the first two times I saw it, and 3) it is anyway irrelevant. I have already said ("I have already said" should be my fucking motto for this thread) that all the information required exists in the sequence. And that, yes, if you painstakingly frame progress through it while taking notes (as you just took it upon yourself to do), it is just about possible to follow what's meant to be going on. But the reality is that when watching the film like you're not autistic almost everyone finds it impossible to understand. How do I know this? More time travel:

Secondly, as of right now I have very little clue what went on, I think that's the furthest I've ever been from understanding the actual plot of a film the first time through as I've ever been.

I'm off to read about it. I can't watch it again tonight as my ear will start to bleed and I'll be unable to form letters.

Check out the start of the thread and almost every person says the same (many even actually agree with me, and yet aren't having their intelligence questioned almost a decade later). So what are you trying to say? That it's not actually incomprehensible when watching it properly? Because the evidence seems otherwise.

And yes Kerraig, I have seen David Lynch films and other surreal movies. They work because they are - amazingly - inherently surreal films. They aren't meant to make literal sense. Is Primer like this? No it fucking isn't, it's a painstaking attempt to make time travel as realistic as possible, and as me and Graham have just been through, makes literal sense. It just presents this literal sense in a way as to make it incomprehensible.

I guess, in reality, we will never know 100% for sure if the film makers intended to do what I'm criticising them for (HOT SCOOP: Plot holes in Transformers 2 totally intentional - entire film actually represents Shia Le Bouf's PTSD after Transformers 1). But I say that if they did it to make a point, it was a shit point. With the plot it had, Primer would have given a very confusing vibe no matter how it was presented. But to make it so incomprehensible that almost everyone has to go to the internet to just to understand the basics of what happened? And to do that on purpose? That's just fucking bollocks then.

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If you don't want to talk about a film, I'm pretty sure it's not compulsory to post about it here, especially if your considered opinion is just repeatedly restating it's "fucking bollocks" for the crime of being difficult to understand. You're not reading my posts any more, Gorf Kings contribution is apparently a diatribe.

It's not that I don't like complicated films. I'm certainly not "anti-intellectual"

Maybe it's just the flu.

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First time I watched Primer I somehow didn't even know it was about time travel. When they first see their alternative selves from afar at the storage facility, it took me several scenes to work out what was going on. Unsurprisingly, I didn't grasp many plot intricacies at all first time around. I watched it again immediately afterwards rather than reaching for the Internet, and got a lot more. I think it's amazing. The fact that you can watch it over and over again and get more out of each time is why I love it. I love that element in other films, too. Michael Mann films often have very detailed plots with lots of technical language that can mean it takes a couple of watches to get everything that is going on. Things are rarely spelt out for the benefit of the audience. It's one of the reasons I love his films. People don't always want to be spoon-fed. It's fun having to really concentrate every now and then.

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The reanimation of this thread has prompted a rewatch or two. I was jumping around a fair bit and watching a few sections repeatedly. It's so good!

Little bits of foreshadowing here and there I'd not seen before: Abe commenting how quickly earpiece Aaron does some mental arithmetic, for instance.

Has anyone ploughed their way through

http://theprimeruniverse.blogspot.co.uk/

Not just the fairly conventional timeline diagram, but the rest of it. He got a Primer book published, he says, now out of print, and its now all on the blog. There are some great little asides: is that cat (named after a character from the Time Traveller) missing because it drank drugged milk? But it contains lots of crazy speculations that seem to me more like the out-there interpretations of The Shining documented in Room 237.

He seems to make some mistakes (not quite understanding what's going on with the weeble for instance), draws big conclusions from the editing (like when Abe is seen running during The Granger Incident), and from how experienced and practised Abe seems when he's describing the boxes to Aaron. And then he elaborates on that to outline a theory where Abe has invented the box some time before he shows Aaron, there are more revisions and boxes than we know about, French warehouse guy gets involved somehow. A version of Aaron is trying to ensure Abe invents the boxes, he dopes the weebles with fungus and makes the phone call. A version of Abe is trying to stop the boxes from being created.

It's basically fan fiction I think, taking mere suggestions that are just intended to make you paranoid, or make you wonder what happens after the end of the film. I don't buy it. My reading of the film is that it's a tight little story, and that his attempts to pick up on tiny details as if they're coded messages from Carruth to reveal a broader canvas are wrong.

But I freely admit I don't really understand what he's on about, so maybe I'm just dumb.

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I've watched it four times this week and quite frankly the film has jumped into my top five of all time. I think it's incredible.

I thought the cat was a bit of a metaphor for something that had been let out of the box which is what they'd been talking about and couldn't be put back in. There's other foreshadowing as well, when Aaron says "We'll have to move the box," and Abe says, "We will," because they've already done it. Or Aaron not being able to write very well one morning in the Library because he'd been looping like crazy at that point.

There is one odd point though.

When does Abe first go through the box? It can't be the Monday that he goes to talk to Aaron on the bench, because when they're in the car at the end of the day, Aaron asks him what he did the first time he went through, and Abe says he just went to a hotel and did nothing. Which is not what he did that day, so I can only presume he went through over the weekend or something.

Something else as well: When they plan to come back and stop the kids smacking the cars - this would have led to another pair or Aaron and Abe's wouldn't it, because if they stop the kids, they don't wake up to come back and stop the kids so they'll exist along with the doubles. But then obviously, the shit with Granger kicks off and they never do it, but it surprises me that at the point they come up with the idea when there is only one Abe, he doesn't cotton on to this fact. Or does he? And he simply doesn't care by now?

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The first Abe starts the timer on Monday, drives to the hotel and does nothing but ring his broker, goes back to the storage locker, is in a position to be seen by his future self and Aaron through binoculars during the next revision, then disappears into the box and becomes the Abe that goes to talk to Aaron on the bench in the repeat of Monday in the new timeline.

Although that gets revised again once Aaron uses the failsafe, so we probably don't see any of the above on film, so it might have been slightly different first time around.

Abe does seem to be more experienced with the boxes than a guy who has only made one trip, but I don't regard that as significant.

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The first Abe starts the timer on Monday, drives to the hotel and does nothing but ring his broker, goes back to the storage locker, is in a position to be seen by his future self and Aaron through binoculars during the next revision, then disappears into the box and becomes the Abe that goes to talk to Aaron on the bench in the repeat of Monday in the new timeline.

Yeah, the Abe talking to Aaron on the bench is the one who's just come out of the box. The Abe they watch walking into the facility is his past self, who spent the day in a hotel.

I do think Comrade does have a point, in that the plot is reasonably easy to follow until it gets batshit mental in the last 15 minutes or so, but I think that's an intentional depiction of things spiralling out of control

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It's clear from reading the Internet that even the guy who wrote a book about Primer, and another guy who has written a weekly column about time travel in Film/TV from a theoretical physics perspective and wrote many articles about Primer are prone to getting stuff about the film wrong. It would be hard to argue from that evidence it's an easy film to understand completely!

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I do think Comrade does have a point, in that the plot is reasonably easy to follow until it gets batshit mental in the last 15 minutes or so, but I think that's an intentional depiction of things spiralling out of control

Oh yeah undoubtably. Nobody disagrees there. What we're saying is that it was clearly an intentional device to show how hopelessly out of their depth the protagonists are and how dangerous and unpredictable time travel can be

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I also think there are a couple of things that are quickly skated over because they'd be bloody hard to show properly in a way that didn't take loads of screen time and bring things juddering to a halt, and many in the audience still wouldn't understand anyway because our brains are not built to deal with time travel. To fix that you'd need to simplify the story and its model of time travel a fair bit, or turn it into a long running TV series or something. And that would strip it of what makes it interesting. Instead we get a tight 77 minutes that can still baffle and thrill me 8 years and many viewings later.

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Of course! That is Abe on Monday who looped through. Why did I not work this out? Why then does Abe not worry about changing stuff as he has instantly changed stuff by going and telling Aaron and spending the day with him, which Aaron didn't do on Abe's first journey through?

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The only person he needs to make sure has an unchanged day is the first Abe, so he doesn't create a duplicate or a Granger Incident. First Abe has deliberately had an uneventful isolated day to take himself out of the equation. Abe and Aaron didn't interact on the first Monday, Aaron was probably at work, so I don't think it matters to Abe that he's changing history by talking to Aaron. Whether he should worry about it, who knows? I can imagine no way in which this thing could be considered anywhere remotely close to safe. He's still working out the rules for time travel himself.

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Someone mentioned the weird cut to someone else running during the scene where they're chasing the Granger who's clearly been in the box - are there any theories as to what that's meant to signify?

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If multiple versions of yourself can exist at the same point in time, you could wangle it to raise an army of yourselves - all with your knowledge, skills, experience etc. Given the constraints of the devices and the life expectancy of the average male, how many copies of you can exist simultaneously in a given hour?

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Someone mentioned the weird cut to someone else running during the scene where they're chasing the Granger who's clearly been in the box - are there any theories as to what that's meant to signify?

Someone else running? I think we see Abe running, and it's intercut weirdly when they're in the car and then after Aaron pursues Granger. I read it as just editing. That primer universe blogspot page seems to think it's more than that, that it's an Abe copy, but I couldn't coherently summarise what he's on about.

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Someone else running? I think we see Abe running, and it's intercut weirdly when they're in the car and then after Aaron pursues Granger. I read it as just editing. That primer universe blogspot page seems to think it's more than that, that it's an Abe copy, but I couldn't coherently summarise what he's on about.

I think it's Abe, yeah. The way it cuts seems very deliberate but I could never work out what it was meant to signify. Probably nothing!

Regarding that diagram - I always thought the point was there was an original timeline where Aaron's friend's cousin shoots somebody with his shotgun at the party. Is that not the case?

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I think I don't have it clear in my head precisely what happened at the party originally and in the versions that each of the Aarons experienced, or Abe heard about from others. I get the impression it was worst for Narrator Aaron, but he never says exactly. Earpiece Aaron acted rashly / heroically and gets chided by Abe when he hears about it. I think one Aaron mentions an iteration he wasn't even at the party where the guy didn't shoot, but I'm not sure. It's also not clear whether the shotgun guy was part of Granger's motivation for getting in the box (he's Rachel's dad) or if he had other reasons.

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Pretty sure they just don't know. He's comatose when they meet him. They speculate as to why one of them might tell him about the boxes in the future (what, you might do it in an emergency then?), but they don't know and get scared.

Obviously it being about Rachel is a distinct possibility. Granger is Rachel's dad. The party aftermath hasn't yet been resolved to Aaron's complete satisfaction: he tackled the gunman somehow, but I'm not sure how things are left after that. Are we told?

Another possibility is Granger gets involved after the plan to punch Aaron's enemy in the face goes wrong. Maybe they're in jail and have to tell Granger about the boxes to reset things?

Or something else! Carruth says this part is unknowable. He didn't develop that part of the story.

The only thing we sort of know is that them seeing Granger in the car and chasing him stops what ever events caused Granger to come back in the first place. And that interaction is recursive somehow (Granger comes back / doesn't come back / repeat). And the effect of that is that Granger does come back but becomes vegetative and it affects Aaron badly when he's near.

One theory I read suggests the way to make him recover might be to tell the current timeline Granger about the boxes to make sure he comes back and break the recursion.

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