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#Film Review: In the shadow of the moon (2019)

Director: Jim Mickle

Rating: 5/5

I watched this film last night, and I was surprised because nothing in the short description of the film mentioned time-travel. The film was really interesting. Well, I always think that time travel is interesting because it is my favourite genre but this one was really, really interesting.

Essentially, in this film Cleopatra Coleman plays a serial killer who kills people by leaving punctures in the back of their necks, which then causes her victims to start bleeding from eyes and ears until they ultimately die. Throughout the film we are led to believe that she is a vicious killer, but then ultimately we find out she is going back in time to kill what is portrayed as members of the Far Right in America. She is only able to come every 9 years when the Moon changes, thus confusing the Police force, in particular, detective Lockhart who essentially destroys his own life in an attempt to capture her…

It was not immediately obvious that it was a time travel film, hence my surprise. But, once it unravelled it got really interesting. The film is basically playing with much-explored dilemma as to whether we should use time travel to go back to the past and kill vicious people who cause harm to humanity. According to physicists, we should only use time travel in a way that goes in line with history and not attempt to change it. This principle is called Novikov self-consistency principle, and the Russian physicist Igor Dmitriyevich Novikov who developed it argued that time travel is theoretically permitted under the general relativity theory that contains closed timelike curves. But, if an event exists and it has the potential to cause any change of the past and thus a paradox, then the probability of that event is zero. This means that we may be possible to time travel under some theoretical underpinnings but we cannot change the past and create paradoxes.

There are several depictions of this principle in the popular culture, which explore the time travel and killing baby Hitler however, they wind up unsuccessful because the time cannot be changed. For example, in the Twilight Zone (The Cradle of Darkness), Katherine Heigl’s character is sent back in time to kill baby Hitler. She succeeds — but Hitler’s mother adopts another baby and raises it as Adolf, who grows up to lead the Nazi Party, start World War II, carry out the Holocaust, etc.

Therefore, this film on Netflix defies the Novikov principle and argues that time travel and changing the past is possible with a very bold conclusion by arguing we should use time travel, if we ever had a chance, to go back to history and remove people whose ideas were destructive of millions and had a negative impact for decades to come. We would not know someone did it and we would live in a better world.

I don’t actually care whether films argue consistently with debates in physics or not. I just love this genre and this film was a nice portrayal of it, and the message at the end of the film is very bold, as I already said. The film is also different in its story because it does not start conventionally with someone time travelling and then getting flabbergasted for doing so. The film also has a female killer/warrior and nevertheless a black female main character, which was refreshing too. I loved it!

Thank you for reading.

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