Let me stipulate up front: Time travel is science fiction, not science. When NASA says, “Humans can’t hop into a time machine and go back in time,” that’s good enough for me.
Of all the movies I’ve seen, the 2004 indie-film Primer does the best job of making time travel sound like a real thing. Still, since there is literally no real science to time travel, you have to wonder why we label such films “science fiction.”
Chalk it up to tradition. It’s been that way for a century and a quarter, ever since H.G. Wells wrote The Time Machine (1895). To be fair, we can’t blame Wells for this. Einstein didn’t deliver his special theory of relativity explaining the relationship between space and time until 1905. Ironically, Einstein’s theory was just tantalizing and confusing enough to fuel rather than squash speculation on time travel. Thus, time travel is inexplicably bound forever to the science fiction canon.
Film is a particularly powerful medium for time travel…