Some months ago, I watched a spate of time travel movies - "Timecrimes", "Primer", "12 Monkeys", "Donnie Darko". All had complex plot lines. None had the feel-good factor characteristic of such time travel movies as "Back to the Future" series.
A peculiar aspect of the screenplay of some these movies has grown upon me. In all these movies, the lead actors travel in time and interact with their own self. However, this interaction is at best of guarded caution while at its worst it can be downright malevolent. Their own self is their enemy.
An example of extreme worst case scenario comes from a movie belonging to a different genre. "The Prestige" has Hugh Jackman's character killing his own clones. I am still undecided which one of the clones would carry the feelings of the original Jackman and which one would be surprised to stare it his carbon / original copy getting ready to kill him. My thoughts start going on a tangent here - what does "self" mean, can memories be transplanted, can "self" exist outside body, can you harm your clone, etc.
I will explore that tangent some other time. Returning to the already mentioned theme of facing-off with own's self, a story idea has been taking shape in my mind. I will like to either write this story myself or experience it in any form of idea is someone has already taken a shot at it.
The idea goes like this. Tom, aged nearly 35, chances to experience time travel into past. He travels about 18 years back into time. Once there, he goes off to find his 17 year old self. Let me call Tom aged 35 as T35 and Tom aged 18 as T18. [Maybe this nomenclature is inspired by the upcoming "Terminator Salvation" movie and promise of the revival of Terminator series]
T18 is a brilliant kid. He is a geek, he understands time travel. He even dreams of experiencing it for himself in future. When T35 finds T18, the kid is not in for any massive shock. T18 is surprised but nothing more. T35 is thrilled to see his younger self. Together they hang around. T35 describes how things have shaped up in his life. The story of T18's future.
Here is the catch. The more T18 gets to know how the life turned out for T35, the more he gets uneasy. T35 appears a big time loser and all messed up to him. T35 has been shunned in his social circle, he is an outcast. T35 thinks that if no one else than at least T18 would be able to understand why things turned up that way. But he finds that T18 is not only aghast at T35's state, but is almost disowning his future self. T18 does not want to have anything to do with T35. He wants him to leave. He wants himself to leave.
That is the basic premise of the story idea. It will be interesting to witness the interaction with the same character's young and adult self. The young version -- all bubbly, positive, ambitious, raring to go. The adult version -- beaten blue and black, listless, defeated, out of spirit, out of luck. How will the young version deal with the apparent failure awaiting in his future and that failure personified in his future self? What will happen to T35 if the only person he had counted on to understand / empathize with him turned out to be the most disgusted after listening to his story?
One line summary of the above rant -- what if you went back in time and your younger self even refuses to recognizes you, feels disgusted at you? How did your life turn that way anyway?