Timecrimes, released almost a decade ago, is written and directed by the Spanish director (and actor) Nacho Vigalondo. The first time I was it back in 2009, I was completed intrigued by the storyline, a creepy tale about time paradox, presented in the most simplistic, yet more complex plot. Forget about CGI like in Terminator or the Flying the Delorean in Back to The Future. Timecrimes is truly a masterpiece in its own right.
In the previous articles I wrote, I covered the plot, the free-will within the limit of perception and the time-paradox. However, there is an interesting theme, I’d like to cover here. It’s all about voyeurism and sexism, and how the women, the bicycle lady and Clara are treated in Timecrimes.
There is a strong sense of objectification early in the movie, when Hector 1 sees The Girl standing out in the woods, biting her thumb, apparently thinking about something. Continuing to watch her, he sees her pull off her shirt, exposing her breasts.
At this time, Clara is there next to him, trying to talk to him about whether or not he wants chicken for dinner. He basically ignores her, as he’s too busy watching The Girl. He doesn’t mention to Clara what he’s looking at, even when The Girl starts undressing, and continues watching her. Eventually, she leaves to go into town, clearly annoyed.
Being a pervert, Hector-1 goes for a walk to try to get a closer look at The Girl. He follows a trail of clothing into the woods, until he finds her naked and unconscious. Hector-1 eyes her naked body for a while, the camera along with him, before he tries to wake her up. He then approaches her, apparently to see if she’s alright (at least I hope), but up until this point he’s just been a pervert.
Later, when he time travels and becomes Hector-2, the lab worker sits him down to explain just what the freak’s going on. Hector-2 seems concerned about the other man in his house with his wife, though he eventually catches on about the time travel. The lab worker describes Hector-1 as like a reflection in the mirror, essentially the same as Hector-2, and that Hector-2 has to conform to the way things went when he was Hector-1 or else Hector-1 will never go back in time and become Hector-2. However, the explanation is worded in a way to emphasize the fact that if Hector-2 doesn’t do this, then he’ll be cuckolded by Hector-1. This is a small aspect of the movie, but the disrespectful treatment of the female characters adds up.
Hector-2 at first doesn’t listen and tries to make contact with Hector-1. Partway to his house, his car is struck (by Hector-3) and he crashes. The Girl, traveling along the road on a bicycle, comes to help. Realizing he needs her to be in the forest to draw Hector-1, he repays her kindness by basically sexually assaulting her. He threatens her with a sharp instrument and forces her into the woods, where he makes her undress for what amounts to his own (Hector-1’s) sexual satisfaction. Yes, this is to keep the timeline intact, but why does it even exist? She attacks him, and he knocks her unconscious, going on to stripping her for Hector-1 to find.
Then at the end, we have the conflict with The Girl and Clara. Clara is not treated as a person in her own right. She’s just an item Hector-2/Hector-3 wants to keep safe whereas the Girl is just a disposable item. Hector feels a great attachment to his wife and wants her to live for his sake rather than the respect for human life. The Girl has always been objectified, from the first time Hector(-1) saw her, to Hector-2’s coercion of her to attract Hector-1, and she ends objectified when Hector-3 kills her to save Clara. When it’s all over, Hector-3 doesn’t explain to Clara what’s going on. He just brings her out to the yard and makes her sit in the lawn chair next to him while the police come.
I think the ending is supposed to be twisted and give viewers an uncomfortable feeling as they watch it. Yes, Hector has fixed the timeline to his liking, but he’s done something evil to do so. The character itself is written to be immoral, so I’m not sure how much blame can be put on Vigalondo for producing sexist content. However, the whole series of instances Hector encounters and must reproduce involve this objectification and sexual assault for no reason other than it suiting Vigalondo’s purposes.
In conclusion, this twisted-up strange loop time travel story, though amusing, contains noticeable elements of sexism. Women characters are constantly disrespected. Though the protagonist is himself depicted as immoral, the existence of certain events within the strange loop (having no detectable cause but themselves) indicate sexism of the narrative rather than thematic depiction of it. So: enjoyable movie, but problematic content.
The final part coming up soon.