previous entry. Likewise, another type of paradox arises if we try to see into the future. Once you know what is to come, you then have the power to prevent what you have seen. This, of course, is less paradoxical than trying to change history. If the future you see does not come to pass, you can always argue that what you saw was never really the future in the first place. But the main point I'm making is that there are philosophical paradoxes associated with traveling into the past and seeing into the future, but there is no paradox associated with traveling into the future or seeing into the past.
Now the real insight for me came when I realized that the non-paradoxical scenarios could be stretched and extended and still remain non-paradoxical. Traveling into the future at a faster rate than everyone else is accepted by physicists as perfectly possible... if you are near a black hole or traveling near the speed of light. It may be a nearly impossible feat to actually accomplish, but theoretically achievable. Similarly, you can collect all the information you wish about the past without running into any sort of philosophical conundrum. The idea of seeing into the past never caught my attention as did the idea of traveling into the future because it seemed so ordinary by comparison. All you have to do to see into the past is spend lots of time in a library. With the help of video and audio recording you can experience the past as if you were actually there. But this whole attitude was turned on its head when I first saw the film Deja Vu. Ok, I know that's an awfully winded introduction for a movie review, but I had to describe all this before getting to the point because I don't think this film gets enough credit for the concept that it's writers so crisply and cleanly introduced to moviegoers. I think it deserves a little respect, and with that, on to the film...
The FBI, it turns out, is using the case to test a new technological gadget. It is actually an area wide system connected to remote satellites that allows them to obtain detailed and close-up real time monitoring of any location within a certain radius. That doesn't sound too far from today's satellite technology, except that they are able to use it to monitor such locations at a different point in time, one that is about 4 days in the past. It is a type of time window, but they say they have no way to change the time range of the window. They can record what they focus in on, but they cannot move the window backward or forward in time, and it is video only. It is like being able to watch what happened 4 days ago as it evolves. It is impossible to view every location at once, so they must try to focus on what is important to the investigation. This is where Carlin's help comes in handy.
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As I mentioned, this whole system is free of paradoxes. But the writers decided to challenge themselves a bit more and allow objects to be sent back into the time window. There are only two instances of this in the film. The first involves sending a piece of paper to the desk of Carlin's partner telling him where to find the suspect. This ends up getting his partner killed, something that was already known to have happened but no one knew why. The detective blames himself. Once they catch the criminal, the second incident involves Carlin convincing the team to send him back so he can save Claire, whom he has begun to care about. They send him to a nearby hospital bed with the words "REVIVE ME" written in large letters on his chest. Very clever. Carlin ends up not only saving Claire but also preventing the entire incident from occurring. What is really neat is that here again, the writers have shown us everything that Carlin's time travel affected at earlier points in the movie. As he intervenes in the time line, you see and understand the reasons why everything was this way or that way when you saw it before, including messages he wrote to himself. In other words, we only ever saw one time line to begin with, except for the very beginning when the boat actually explodes. In the changed timeline, the boat is saved.
Personally, I consider it a really well crafted script. Not only does it keep track of the clues to the crime, it also keeps tabs on the alternate time loop so as to minimize the paradox effect. The only detail to tie up is the fact that two Doug Carlin's exist at the same time now. This is neatly handled by causing Carlin to heroically save the ship at the expense of his own life, leaving his alternate future self to meet Claire under more favorable circumstances, and leaving her as the only one knowing all that actually happened. The film did not do very well at the box office, so maybe there aren't as many people out there who appreciate a good puzzle as much as I do.
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