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How Sci-Fi Movie “In Time” Mirrors Life

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Did you see In Time? If you didn’t, check it out. It’s entertaining and the premise is fantastic.

The premise of the movie is simple – in the future, no one ages past twenty five. Everyone has a running clock and when it hits zero, you die. The entire economy is based on time. Instead of money in your wallet, you have time, which constantly ticks down, in your arm. When people rob other people, it’s to steal their time. When you clock out of work, you get your wages as time in your arm. When you borrow time, you pay interest in time. The poor have very little time. The rich can live forever. Everything is based on this fairly simple premise.

The plot of the movie itself isn’t bad but it’s not some trippy mind-bending Philip K. Dick type of story. You have some interesting subplots that make for interesting discussion (wealth disparity, class warfare, time zones, disasters of lottery winners & sudden wealth, etc.) but the basic premise of the movie is itself worth a discussion on its own because it’s not that as fiction as you might think.

(I try to avoid any spoilers for the movie)

Working for Time

Despite it being a science fiction movie, it’s not that different from our lives when you think about it. If you’re employed, you spend 8+ hours of the day working so you can live the other 16 hours. Depending on how much you make, you’re buying yourself “free time.” After you get an adequate amount of free time, at least for the near future, the extra money can go towards retirement or towards better stuff. The more money you have, the better stuff you can enjoy. You are paying other people to build better stuff for you, like fancier electronics, a nicer car, or a larger house. You are paying for another person’s eight hours so that he or she can pay for his or her other 16 hours.

Life Expectancy

While you can’t live forever like in the movie, more money does afford a better standard of living and often a longer lifetime. Look at the countries at the top of the list and compare it to the countries near the bottom (or where those countries are on the map). If you had the unfortunate luck of being born in Swaziland, your average lifespam is just 31.88 years, a little over a third of the life expectancy of someone born in Monaco (89.73 years).

If I were born in Swaziland, I’d probably be dead already.

Anyway, thought it was a fun movie, here’s the trailer:

If you saw the movie, what did you think?

{ 8 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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8 Responses to “How Sci-Fi Movie “In Time” Mirrors Life”

  1. camu says:

    I saw the movie, but I had never thought about the connection with our real life ;)

  2. I thought the movie was great. Hey set it up for a sequel and I hoped it would get picked up but haven’t heard of anything about it unfortunately.

  3. Dave says:

    I thought the premise of the movie was cool and that overall it was pretty good. I also linked it to the way we live today and the similarities of choices we make and how it impacts our “time”. The only downside of the movie was when it’s message started turning “political”, in that they started saying that no one should have more “time” than anyone else… I agree that your life span should not be dictated by how much you are worth. However, the basic premise of the movie was that time=money, and I felt that the movie started trying to tell us that everyone should have the same money… Not my particular viewpoint…

  4. freeby50 says:

    “If I were born in Swaziland, I’d probably be dead already.”

    Thats a sobering thought isn’t it?

    I saw the movie, and I liked it. However the production was a little weak IMHO for a sci-fi flick. It seemed all on location in LA and the only sci-fi element was the old cars with electric sound effects. Kinda cheap in the production budget for a major motion picture.

  5. JP Adams says:

    Thanks Jim – Oh, it has my man JT. Must see.

    I think you make a basic mistake in the equation you set up. We don’t work 8 hours a day for the 16 hours of free time.

    Instead we work 8 hours a day to learn, grow, connect with other people, build something we are proud of.

    Then after we have done that we go home to spend time with our families and friends to explore many of the same goals.

    It’s overly simplistic to think of work time as buying you free time.

    Put another way, thinking of work this way will ensure that you don’t like your job.

    Now I know you were trying to extend the metaphor of the movie. On that you sold me.

    Have you seen Gattaca? That’s another great Sci-Fi that has interesting connections to political, socioeconomic, and class connections to real life.

  6. JP Adams says:

    Cool – I like the premise and it has my boy JT. I’m sold.

  7. JP Adams says:

    I have to disagree with your equation that 8 hours at work gets us 16 hours of free time at home.

    We go to work for 8 hours to grow, learn new things, connect with teammates and help our companies grow.

    We then return home to accomplish many of the same goals with our friends and family.

    It’s overly simplistic (and a bit foolish) to view work as a place where you simply earn the right to go home. If nothing else, its a fantastic way to teach yourself to hate your job.

    But needless to say I am definitely in on the movie.

    Have you seen Gattaca? Another great Sci-Fi that draws interesting connections to the socioeconomic, political, and class challenges we face in America today.

  8. ace carolla says:

    andrew niccol, the director of In Time, also wrote and directed 1997’2 Gattaca with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.

    That movie was beyond it’s time, and one of my personal favourites.

    watching In Time right now……


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