The Time Traveler's Wife

by: Mychael Danna

The fictional concept of time travel manages to be simultaneously fascinating and completely ridiculous. The novel and now film The Time Traveler's Wife employs a variation of the concept that is similar to the one in Kurt Vonnegut's novel (and film) Slaughterhouse Five, in that an ordinary person doesn't travel back or forward in time in the manner of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine so much as become, as Vonnegut put it, "unstuck in time." Billy Pilgrim, Vonnegut's hero, kept traveling around his own life in the sense that his conscious mind just seemed to keep flitting, without his control, from his birth to his death and everywhere in between, pausing for a while here and there. Henry, the time traveler in The Time Traveler's Wife, also jumps back and forth in his life unable to control his travels, but he does so in a more literal sense than Billy Pilgrim; he keeps dissolving in front of people's eyes and reappearing at some other time or place, and without his clothes, to boot. As time travel tales go, this may be the silliest one yet, but it is placed in the service of a romance; the important character is really Henry's wife, Clare, who somehow manages to spend enough time with Henry to fall in love with him and marry him. In this way, you might say the novel/film is really just an analogy for a love story about a woman whose husband keeps getting called away on business unexpectedly. Mychael Danna's score for the film zeroes in on the romance and the conflict caused by Henry's constant disappearances. This is calm, sweet music, full of slow, considered piano parts supported by warm strings, at least a first. Things get a little more ominous as the music continues, however, with a sense of anxiety signaled by odd sound effects and bits of atonality. By the cue called "I Never Had a Choice," the strangeness of the situation makes itself felt. The two songs that are interspersed within the score respond to the overall theme, first Broken Social Scene's slow take on Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (the group actually appears in the film as the wedding band), and then Lifehouse's "Broken," with its repeated refrain, "I'm falling apart." That's what Henry keeps doing throughout the story, but, of course, a little thing like that can't stop true love, not in a movie like this, anyway. ~ William Ruhlmann

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.