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    SUBJECTS — Science Fiction;

    Age:10-13; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1960; 103 minutes; Color; Available from Amazon.com.

    Description:    George, an inventor living in England at the turn of the 20th century, has crafted a machine that can move through time. He passes through World War I, World War II, a nuclear holocaust and thousands of years beyond to find a strange future of romance and danger. In this new world he encounters the Eloi, a beautiful, indolent, pleasure seeking race, and the Morlocks, mutated, hideous, industrious, and savage. This is a film version of the H.G. Wells' classic novel.

    Benefits of the Movie:     This movie can be used to give children a clear understanding about the four dimensions of length, width, depth, and time. It will start children thinking about the horror of nuclear holocaust and the type of society that might come to be in a post-nuclear holocaust future. The hero takes three books with him when he travels to the future. Children will also be intrigued to think about the question of which books he takes.

    Possible Problems:    MINOR. The morlocks are frightening and there are bloody fights with them.

    Parenting Points:     Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question. Discuss with your child the risks of a nuclear war and reassure them that now the risks are low. However, there were times during the Cold War when the risks were very high. Fortunately, we have survived those times.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  1960 Academy Awards: Best Special Effects.

      Featured Actors:  Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, Whit Bissell, Sebastian Cabot, Alan Young.

      Director:  George Pal.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.


    Helpful Background:

    This film will be best appreciated by children who know something about World War I, the Battle of Britain and the threat of nuclear holocaust under which the world lived from 1949 until the end of the Cold War.

    The physical world as we experience it contains four dimensions: length, width, depth and time. Time is a concept of the order and duration of events. The sun, the moon and the seasons were man's earliest clocks. Sir Isaac Newton postulated that there was an absolute time, a separate entity which existed on its own and which could not be affected or changed in any way. This theory gives rise to the concept of absolute simultaneity, which states that if two events are seen to be simultaneous by one observer, they will be simultaneous to all observers.

    Einstein in his theories of relativity postulated that as the speed of an object approaches the speed of light, time for it will slow relative to the surrounding universe. For example, if some future space traveler leaves the Earth at the speed of light and returns in ten years, he will have experienced only one year of time. Einstein saw time as intertwined with space and inseparable from it. It is therefore relative and not absolute.

    One of the most interesting issues posed by this film is the effect on Eloi society of their dependence upon the Morlocks. See Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions below.

QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   How do we describe and measure each of the four dimensions?

Suggested Response: Length is described as a measure of distance, e.g., "one meter." Length and width together describe the area of an object by squaring, as in "two square meters." We describe the volume of an object by adding depth and by referring to the measure as cubic, for example "one cubic centimeter." Time is expressed in seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, etc. We have only a very limited vocabulary with which to express time along with the three spacial dimensions. When referring to the movement of an object we describe it as moving at a certain distance (the first spacial dimension) per unit of time, such as "two meters per second."


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

    2.  Is time properly classified as a dimension such as length, width, and depth, or is it something intrinsically different?

    3.  If there were to be a fifth dimension, what would it be?

    4.  What is a common measure that we use almost every day which involves the fourth dimension? Suggested Response: Travel in kilometers per hour.

    5.  What, if anything, did you find wrong with the Eloi society?

    6.  What difficulties do you think George would find in his effort to help the Eloi when he went back to their time?

    7.  Which three books would you have brought with you if you were going to stay with the Eloi in their time?

    8.  If you had the chance to travel forward in time, would you do it? Would you stay or just visit?

    9.  If you had the chance to travel backward in time, which period would you visit first? Why?

    10.  If our society suffered a nuclear holocaust, what do you think the society of the survivors would be like?

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:


    1.   Was George's decision to travel in time courageous or foolhardy? What is the difference between courage and foolishness?

    2.  Why didn't the Eloi resist when the siren called them to enter the dark world of the Morlocks? Were they afraid?

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

For suggestions about using filmed adaptations of literary works in the ELA classroom, see Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories and Plays.


    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.

    1.  What ethical principle did Eloi society lack? Give some examples from the book or the film. Suggested Response: A strong argument could be made for any of the Six Pillars.

    2.  Are there any of The Six Pillars of Character that Eloi society honored? Which are they?

    3.  Why didn't any of the Eloi try to help when one of their friends was drowning?

    For ease of reference, the Six Pillars of Character are set out below:


    (Be honest; Don't deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable -- do what you say you'll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal -- stand by your family, friends and country)


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)


    (Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act -- consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)


    (Play by the rules; Take turns and share; Be open-minded; listen to others; Don't take advantage of others; Don't blame others carelessly)


    (Be kind; Be compassionate and show you care; Express gratitude; Forgive others; Help people in need)


    (Do your share to make your school and community better; Cooperate; Stay informed; vote; Be a good neighbor; Obey laws and rules; Respect authority; Protect the environment)


Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

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    Bridges to Reading: The Time Machine is an excellent book for adolescent readers. Books that deal with time travel that are recommended for young adult readers are: The Last Day of Creation by Wolfang Jeschke (U.S. Navy sends men back 5.5 million years to pipe oil from Arabia to Europe); Special Deliverance by Clifford D. Simak (time travel to a ruined, depopulated world); Time after Time (a boy travels back in time and participates in Russian imperial intrigues just before the Russian Revolution) and Time & Space by John & Mary Gribbinn.

    For a collection of suggested general science fiction reading see Learning Guide to Fahrenheit 451.

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See films listed in the Subject Matter Index under the Science Fiction category.

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