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In 2004 a low budget science fiction film
took Sundance by storm. Primer is quite possibly the most complex time travel film ever made; with multiple time lines, multiple doubles and dishonesty between the key players. Film maker and former engineer Steve Carruth
determinedly refused to dumb down the dialogue to make the film easier to decipher. Instead
he decided to trust that his audience would return to the film again and again in order
to fully understand it. Today, I’ve decided to take a closer look
at Primer and break it all down. Obviously I’m going to assume you’ve already
seen this film and are reasonably familiar with the events that take place within the story. Two friends, Abe and Aaron, have inadvertently
invented time travel and they initially intend to use their time machine to make money on
the stock market. If they follow a few simple rules everything
should work out fine, but over the course of only a handful of days, they deceive each other,
create multiple timelines and doubles and in short mess things up pretty royally for themselves. The key to understanding Primer is to focus
on the people and things that matter and discard everything else – so with that in mind let’s
familiarize ourselves with the characters in this story and decide who to pay attention to. There is Abe and Aaron who have discovered
time travel so they are obviously very important. There is Robert and Philip, they are colleagues
and friends of Abe and Aaron but they aren’t let in on the secret of time travel and have
little to no real effect on the story. Similarly you can dismiss Kara and Laney who
are Aaron’s wife and daughter respectively; they too don’t effect the story in any major way. Then there is Rachel Granger. She is Abe’s
love interest although Abe seems to be using her to get close to her wealthy father Mr
Granger who Abe hopes will invest money into his and his friend’s inventions. Although Mr Granger’s first appearance in
the film is fleeting, he turns out to be quite important to the story. Rachel has a crazy ex boyfriend who still
holds a torch for her. In fact in the film Aaron attends a party where the ex turns up
and threatens Rachel with a shotgun. Luckily Aaron was a hero and successfully
disarmed the ex boyfriend. The incident at the party is a pivotal moment
in the film. And finally we have the character of Platt.
Platt is never actually seen in the film but he is referred to several times. Both Abe
and Aaron dislike him because in the past he cheated them out of a successful invention
and went onto make a lot of money for himself. Aaron mentions in the film how he would very
much like to punch Platt in the face. “This is what I would do, I would wake up tomorrow morning, and I’d go over to Gabrielle Capital Inc. and I would tell Joseph Platt’s receptionist that I’m there to see him – and when he comes out, I would ram my fist through the flat of his nose. Just one good punch – one good pow!” Platt, and Aaron’s desire to punch him is
also important to the story so remember him and remember the punch. In summary the important characters and incidents
in the film are: Abe and Aaron. Rachel, her ex boyfriend and the incident at the party. Rachel’s father, Mr Granger. Platt, and Abe and Aaron’s desire to punch him. So, let’s talk about how this time machine
works, I’ll call it the box from now on as that’s how it’s referred to in the film. The box must be switched on at the time you
want to travel back in time to. So this means if you wanted to time travel
back to Monday morning at 9am, you will first need to turn the box on at Monday morning 9am. As Abe was the first person to figure out
how the box works, let’s do a walkthrough of an example of his first time traveling journey. On Monday morning Abe switches on the box at 9am. Abe then goes to a hotel room and locks himself away. The reason why Abe holes himself away in the
hotel room is because he does not want to influence the world in any way during the
next few hours. Abe then finds out what stocks have gone up in that
day – he will use this knowledge to make money on the markets when he repeats the day after
time traveling back. At 3pm Abe decides he’s ready to travel
back in time and he enters the box. The yellow line is our time line and its length
indicates roughly what time the event or incident we are talking about happens during the day. Abe then spends 6 hrs in the box traveling
back in time to 9am that morning. So, now that Abe has traveled back, it’s
Monday morning take 2. At 9am there are two Abe’s in existence
at the same time, the one who is switching on the box and heading to the hotel and the
one who has just emerged from the box. To differentiate them, let’s call the original
Abe, Abe 0 and the double who has just emerged from the box Abe 1. While Abe 0 is hiding away in the hotel
Abe 1 plays the stock markets. Abe 0 is hiding because both the Abes know
that as they share one identity they can’t both go around influencing the world at the
same time. So while Abe 1 uses his stock market knowledge to make money Abe 0 tries to
eliminate his influence on the world by hiding away. There can’t be two Abes in existence forever
but that’s not a problem, when Monday 3pm hits once again Abe 0 will get in the box
to begin his journey back to Monday 9am, essentially disappearing into the past. Meanwhile Abe 1 will continue to progress forward. Before any time traveling took place in the
film Abe 0 realized that there was a chance he or Aaron could cause havoc with time lines
and their futures so he took the precaution of creating a failsafe box. This failsafe box is another time traveling
box that was switched on early Monday morning, say 5am. Abe 0 hid this failsafe box away and kept
it in case things went horribly wrong. If there was an emergency a future Abe – lets
dub him Abe F for the purposes of the illustration – could use this failsafe box at any time;
he could go all the way back to Monday morning before he had ever started to time travel
and prevent Abe 0 from entering the box in the first place. If that set of circumstances were to play
out there would result in two Abes being present in the same timeline at the same time. So
future Abe who has come back to stop all the time traveling and Abe 0 who has yet to
start time traveling are present in the same instance. This of course creates a problem, they can’t
go about living a life with one identity between them. If a future Abe had to come back to
the very beginning, one of the Abes would have to disappear and create an entirely new life
for themselves. So now that we have established how time travel
works, let’s unravel the series of events in Primer as they unfold. A few liberties will be taken here to make
it easier to explain. First, all the times will be rounded off and
second, there will be a few assumptions with regards to what happens during some periods
which are not shown in the film, because as anyone who has seen the film will know, not
everything that matters to the story is shown, some incidents are only alluded to. And finally, in this break down I have assumed
the minimum number of time traveling journeys necessary for all the events in the story to fit. So, with all of that being said let’s follow
Abe and Aaron from Monday through to Friday. Monday, 5am – Abe 0 turns on the failsafe box and
leaves it hidden away. 9am – Abe 0 turns on the box he will be
using to time travel back to Monday 9am. Abe 0 spends the rest of the day holed
up in a hotel. 3pm – Abe 0 returns to the box and climbs
in. He is going to travel back to the morning. After 6 hours in the box Abe emerges but this
time he is Abe 1. It is 9am on Monday morning once again and
Abe 1 will be able to live out the next 6hrs once more, while Abe 0 is on his way to
the hotel where he will hide out. Abe 1 makes his way to Aaron who is sitting
on a bench apparently listening to March madness. Abe 1 reveals all to his friend. As Aaron
will begin time traveling pretty soon let’s call him Aaron 0. During the day Abe 1 slowly introduces Aaron
0 to the concept of time traveling. In between all of this, at some point, Aaron
0 plays basketball with a friend and invites him to a party later that night and also tells
him to bring along Rachel’s ex as she will be there. At 3pm Abe 1 takes Aaron 0 to the place
where he keeps the time traveling boxes and they witness Abe 0 just as he’s getting ready
to go into the box to begin his journey to the past. Later that evening Aaron 0 attends the
party he invited his friend to earlier in the day. Abe 1 is not present and in the film
we don’t actually see what took place at the party, but from later conversations we
understand that at the party Rachel’s volatile ex threatened people with a shotgun and Aaron 0 managed to disarm him. Tuesday – Aaron 0 has decided he also wants to time travel, and make money on the stock markets. So at 9am both Abe 1 and Aaron 0 switch
on their boxes and hole away at a hotel. At 3pm Abe 1 and Aaron 0 get into the box
and time travel back to 9am that same morning. They emerge from their boxes as Abe 2 and Aaron 1. It is Tuesday 9am once again. While Abe 1 and Aaron 0 once more make
their way to the hotel, Abe 2 and Aaron 1 make money on the stock market. Once 3pm hits Abe 1 and Aaron 0 get into
their boxes and disappear into the past and Abe 2 and Aaron 1 go back to living their lives. And now here’s where it is going to get complicated. Aaron 1 has found out about the failsafe but
has kept quiet about his knowledge. And at some point on Tuesday Aaron 1 decides
that he needs to use the failsafe and go back to Monday morning once more. Now the reason for this seems to be about Rachel’s ex. It appears that Aaron 1 is not satisfied with
the outcome of the party – he believes the ex is still a danger and presumably wants to come back in order to deal with the ex more effectively. So Aaron 1 uses the failsafe box and returns
to Monday morning 5am. He emerges as Aaron 2. Aaron 2 sets up two disassembled time traveling
boxes he has brought back with him. He immediately switches them on, one is for him and one is
for Abe. These boxes will allow them to come back once more to Monday 5am should they need to. Aaron 2 plans to replay and record the day
in order to repeat Monday as often as he needs to in order to get rid of the ex for good. But there is a serious repercussion to Aaron 2’s plan. On Monday morning 5am he exists at the same
time as Aaron 0 who at this point is blissfully unaware of anything related to time travel
as Abe 1 has not had his conversation with Aaron 0 yet. In order to make sure that Aaron 2 can go
through Monday and record all of the pivotal conversations, Aaron 2 needs
to knock Aaron 0 out of the equation and take over his identity. He does this by drugging his breakfast and
storing Aaron 0 away in his attic. At 9am Abe 1 returns to Monday 9am, while Abe
0 holes away at the hotel. Aaron 2 waits for Abe 1 to meet him at the bench. Remember the first time we ran through Monday,
Aaron 0 appeared to be listening to March madness. Well guess what? He wasn’t; he was
actually recording his conversation with Abe 1. The Aaron 0 we thought we saw was actually
Aaron 2 in the film. In fact we never really saw the very first time Abe 1 talked to Aaron 0 about time travel – we only see the version where Aaron 2 has come back and is recording
their conversation. Abe 1 and Aaron 2 then live out Monday once again. Aaron 2 again invites his friend and Rachel’s
ex to the party that will be held later that night. At 3pm they once more watch as Abe 0 gets in the box. And in the evening Aaron 2 once again attends
the party where he disarms Rachel’s ex. The following day – Tuesday. At 9am Abe 1 and Aaron 2 switch on the boxes
and hole away in a hotel and wait for 3pm. At 3pm they time travel back to Tuesday 9am,
becoming Abe 2 and Aaron 3. As Abe 1 and Aaron 2 hole away in the hotel
Abe 2 and Aaron 3 play the markets. At 3pm Abe 1 and Aaron 2 enter the boxes and
disappear into the past. Abe 2 and Aaron 3 go home to spend the evening
hanging out at Aaron 3’s home. There they discuss the implications of time
travel with Aaron 3’s wife in a roundabout way. This is when Aaron 3 confesses how much he
would love to experience punching Platt in the face just once, and then he would go back
in time and tell himself not to do it. Abe 2 is concerned about the idea because
it would mean Aaron 3 speaking with his double and they simply don’t understand the repercussions
that would come from that. During this conversation Aaron 3’s wife
mentions hearing rats in the attic and Aaron 3 brushes it off. Those rats are in fact Aaron
0 who is still trapped in the attic. At this point it’s not clear what Aaron
3 intends to do with Aaron 0; as we have previously discussed both can’t exist in the same timeframe indefinitely. Aaron 3’s wife: “Did you called pest control?” Aaron 3: “Babe they’re birds. You don’t want a bunch of dead baby birds up there do you?” Aaron 3’s wife: “They don’t sound like birds.” Aaron 3: “She thinks there are rats in the attic.” Wednesday. At 9am Abe 2 and Aaron 3 switch on their boxes
and as is becoming routine for them they hole themselves away in a hotel room. They discuss the fact that Aaron 3 has not
revealed anything to his wife and interestingly Aaron 3 mentions that he might fly himself
and his family away to Costa Rica. Is this a clue to Aaron 3’s ultimate plan?
Is he intending to take his family away and leave Aaron 0 in the attic? It’s not
clear, but it could be a possibility. At 3pm Abe 2 and Aaron 3 return to their boxes
and make the trip back to 9am that morning becoming Abe 3 and Aaron 4. Back at 9am Abe 2 and Aaron 3 are on their
way to the hotel and Abe 3 and Aaron 4 play the markets as usual. That particular day, a troubling thing happens
to Aaron 4; he starts bleeding from his ear. This is presumably because time travel has
a bad effect on the time traveler. Aaron 4 by this point has time traveled multiple times. At 3pm their doubles, Abe 2 and Aaron 3 go
into their boxes and Abe 3 and Aaron 4 continue about their business. Later that same day Abe 3 learns of the Monday
night party incident and he berates Aaron 4 for risking his life in that manner. Thursday At 9am Abe 3 and Aaron 4 switch on their boxes
and make their way to the hotel. There Aaron 4 receives and takes a call from
his wife. This is a problem, both Abe 3 and Aaron 4 want to have as little effect on the
world around them as possible from the time of switching on their boxes to entering them. Abe 3 comes up with a solution, if Aaron 4
makes sure not to take his phone back with him to Thursday morning when he becomes Aaron 5
everything will be ok. They figure the next instance when Aaron 4’s wife calls the double in the hotel room will pick up and have the same conversation that Aaron 4 has just had. At 3pm Abe 3 and Aaron 4 get into their boxes
and emerge as Abe 4 and Aaron 5 on Thursday morning. Back at 9am Abe 3 and Aaron 4 are on their
way to the hotel and Abe 4 and Aaron 5 play the markets as usual. But foolishly Aaron 5 has brought his phone
with him so when his phone rings they realize that Aaron 4 who is holed up in the hotel
room has not received the call as they meant him to. They have broken symmetry and are a little
frightened of the repercussions but there is nothing immediate that happens so they calm down. At 3pm their doubles, Abe 3 and Aaron 4 go
into the boxes and Abe 4 and Aaron 5 continue about their business. Friday On Friday Abe 4 and Aaron 5’s routine changes
because Abe 4 is woken by some children playing about with car alarms at 3am in the morning. There are two things that have been playing on Abe
4’s mind. First, the conversation between him and Aaron 3 back on Tuesday about punching
Platt in the face and second, the breaking of symmetry that happened with the phone call
on Thursday. Abe has been secretly turning on the time
traveling boxes at 5pm in the evenings, so the previous day, on Thursday 5pm he turned
on the boxes. At 3am on Friday Abe 4 comes up with a plan,
if he and and Aaron 5 go to Platt’s house now and punch him in the face they can use
the boxes to return to 5pm on Thursday evening emerging as Abe 5 and Aaron 6. They can then hide away until 3am Friday morning
and scare away the kids from playing with the car alarms which will in turn prevent
his double from waking up and coming up with the plan of punching Platt in the face. This way they can kill two birds with one
stone, experience the pleasure of punching Platt in the face and test what happens if
symmetry is broken. So that’s the plan but it doesn’t quite pan
out. Let’s go back to Friday 3am when Abe 4 is woken up and had the original idea of
punching Platt. As he and Aaron 5 are traveling to Platt’s
house they spot Mr Granger. Earlier that day Aaron 5 had seen Mr Granger with a cleanly shaven face but that evening Mr Granger seems to be sporting around three days worth of growth
and he looks dishevelled and unkempt. To their panic Abe 4 and Aaron 5 realize that
Granger has somehow found out about the time traveling boxes and has used one. This scares Abe 4 so much that he decides
it’s time to use his original failsafe, or what he thinks is his original failsafe. Remember that Aaron 2 replaced Abe’s failsafe. Abe 4 plans to go back on Monday and stop Abe 0 and who he thinks is Aaron 0 from ever time traveling in the first place. Aaron 5 independently also decides to go back
to Monday morning too. Although he doesn’t know for certain why Granger has come back he puts it down to something to do with Rachel and her ex. He decides to come back on Monday and really ensure
that the ex gets locked up for good rather than just being disarmed. So once again, we’re back on Monday morning. 5am – Aaron 5 who entered his failsafe on
friday night emerges as Aaron 6. He then goes to his apartment where Aaron 2 has already taken care of Aaron 0 by putting him in the attic. He and Aaron 2 fight but Aaron 6 is unable to over power Aaron 2 and instead the two Aarons talk. Aaron 6 explains that he has already recorded
all the conversations of the day, that he has already disarmed rachel’s crazy ex but
that something went wrong in the future that has caused Granger to start traveling back
in time. Aaron 6 tells Aaron 2 that he needs to really ensure that Rachel’s ex is actually
locked up. There are now three Aarons in the same timeline.
Aaron 0 in the attic, Aaron 2 and Aaron 6. Aaron 2 comes to realize that Aaron 6 is more invested in the plan and so he leaves. Meanwhile Abe 4 who entered his failsafe on
friday night emerges as Abe 5. Abe 5 then goes to Abe 0, gasses him and
stashes him in the bathroom to make sure he doesn’t do any time traveling. There are now two Abes in the same timeline. Abe 5 and Aaron 6 meet up at the bench as
they did that very first Monday but this time an extremely exhausted Abe 5 faints and the
time for putting everything out on the table has come. Aaron 6 tells Abe 5 everything he has done,
the additional time traveling, the setting up of different failsafe boxes and trying
to fix things at the party. Just as he has done every Monday prior to
this final Monday Aaron 6 plays basket ball with his friend and invites him and Rachel’s
ex to the party later that day. Aaron 6 manages to convince Abe 5 to agree
to help him with Rachel’s crazy ex and they both attend the party on Monday night. And at last they are successful in fixing
things at the party. The next morning after Aaron 6 has a good
night’s sleep and Abe 5 spends all night contemplating what has happened, they make their way to the airport. Aaron 6 is going to leave and make a new life for himself. Aaron 0 who is locked in the
attic will presumably be found and allowed to continue on in relative ignorance. Abe 5 decides that he’s going to stay and
ensure that Abe 0 doesn’t begin time traveling at all. Aaron 6 thinks his attempts
will be futile and the two argue with Aaron 6 making a dig about Abe 5 coveting his family. The two friends separate, their relationship
irreparably damaged. It seems obvious that time traveling causes
damage to the body; this is evidenced by Aaron 4’s ear beginning to bleed, Abe 5 passing out and both Aarons
and Abes noticing that their handwriting deteriorates. One theory as to why their handwriting suffers
so badly can be traced back to the day Aaron and Abe are playing around with the box in
the garage, before any time traveling has taken place. They both place their hands above
the box and in that moment their hands may have traveled back in time while the rest
of their bodies remained in the present. As a result, their hand may be a few moments
behind the rest of their bodies causing their hands be out of sync and this in turn translates
into their inability to write properly. The voice over narration that we hear is that
of Aaron 2 who left the story on that final Monday morning after his fight and following
conversation with Aaron 6. Aaron 2 felt he owed Aaron 0, who he drugged
and locked in the attic some kind of explanation and that is the purpose of his phone call. *PHONE RINGS* Aaron 2: ‘Here’s what’s going to happen; I’m going to read this and you’re going to listen. And you’re going to stay on the line and you’re not going interrupt, you’re not going to speak for any reason. Some of this you know. Now, I’m going to start at the top of the page.” This is why Aaron 2 is unable to relay accurately
what happened at the party on that final Monday night. It was Aaron 6 who attended it along
with Abe 5. In the final moments of the film we see Aaron 2 in a foreign country and not having learned his lesson, he seems to be in the process of building a much larger box. So that concludes my explanation and analysis
of Primer, arguably the most challenging time travel film ever made. I hope you enjoyed
this video , let me know your thoughts in the comments below and make sure to subscribe
to LondonCityGirl for more film analysis videos. Thanks for stopping by and supporting my channel and I’ll see you next time! 🙂

100 thoughts on “PRIMER (2004) – ILLUSTRATED EXPLANATION

  1. Now I need to watch it again. At the beginning (ish) Aaron 0 (possibly) does some crazy math problem quick enough to impress Abe. Either Aaron is some sort of math genius or he was already familiar with the calculation. If he had that kind of math skills, can we not assume that Abe would already know that quality about Aaron? Why would he react and say "That was fast…" The key would be if he had an ear-piece in.

    Oh, and the ear bleeding is from Aaron whatever forgetting to take earbud out before time traveling. The machine ripped it out of his ear.

  2. One of my favorite time travel flicks. The analysis of the hands being just a little bit out of sync to explain the bad writing is freaking brilliant!

  3. Wow, this is complete BS.

    They’re throwing a party on a Monday night, and they DON’T work in food service?? Psh, yeahhh right.

  4. Watched the movie, loved the movie…no idea what I just watched. Watched this video, loved this video…no idea what I just watched.

  5. CORRECTION:
    The video states that the film's director is Steve Carruth when in fact it is SHANE Carruth – my mistake during the recording of the voiceover, apologies 🙂

  6. When I first watched this movie a friend of mine showed up for that last few minutes. After a spoiler-free explanation of what the movie was about, we decided to watch it again immediately. I love this movie, but I think I love Upstream Color even more.

  7. Wait….. wait…….🤔🤔 but you said that Mr. Granger got messed up by side effects form time traveling, but when did he time travel. And if the last blonde one stayed to ensure time travel would never happen, would the black haired one evernl revieve the phone call. Or not, because black hair 0 wasnt im the attic long enough for the wife to have the compliant about the attic. Also would there be a new type of conversation on the bench since the blonde one, and the black haired one didnt time travel to have the conversation Sorry for the questions, but i think your explanation of the movie is pretty clear.

  8. Utterly brilliant, perfectly presented and easy to follow. If only all teachers understood how to communicate as well.

  9. You’ve got to do something on “The Expanse”. There is so much to it, I think doing a series of videos would be best.

  10. Primer is very possibly the only film that I’ve ever stopped before the 1 hour mark, started from the beginning, then stopped at the 1 hour mark AGAIN and watched it from the beginning. It was a lot to take in. Great stuff, though. Watching this review has shown me a lot of stuff I forgot. The ex bf and the party, I had no recollection of. I remember granger going back and becoming a vegetable. But didn’t it show them kill him?

  11. This video analysis might seem long at 23 minutes, but if you set a box running before you start the video, you can come back to the beginning so you can like and subscribe before even seeing how good the analysis is.

  12. The Rain man would not understand this shit! Aaron 2, Abe 3, Abe 15, in the hotel, going about their business, punching the guy in the face….smoke is coming out of my ears and I fear my eyes are permanently crossed. Maybe if I watch the film i'll recover.

  13. Rachel's ex was the proto-soy boy. He was also a confirmed feminist and a member of antifa.

    ps. I love that you 0-indexed the time travelers. super nerd of ya.

  14. Shouldn't Abe0 and Abe1 have met when Abe turns the box on and Abe1 travels back in time to exact that moment?
    And what if he had decided not to travel back in time but to send money back in time by putting it into the box at 3pm? That would mean: The moment he turns on the box, there should be the money in the box already. So Abe takes the money out of the box to double the amount of money (he still has the money he was planning to put into the box at 3pm). And by planning to do that over and over again, the whole box should be filled with money the moment he pushes the button for the first time.
    Does this make any sense? The way I told the story, he never actually has waited till 3pm to send the money back in time. And what would be the point of sending the money back in time while he himself is in the present time? From the perspective of Abe at 3pm, nothing would change. He would not have dublicated the money – the money would be just some hours older than it was when he put it into the box.

  15. I need to go back in time and remind myself to tape Primer because I want to watch it again but in the future its hard to find a copy of it.

  16. +sub … this movie is excellent by the 6th time watching it – by that time you'll understand most of it and it's amazing

  17. Hard to get past "Steve" but glad I did. Best visual explanation of one of my fave films that I've seen. Well done!

  18. I always thought that the disarming of the BF at the party was the goal. They talk about wanting the cheers and admiration in the voiceover. Random nerd wouldn't just be able to disarm a crazy dude with a shotgun without the time-travel assist. I'm guessing something bad happened without them getting involved, or the guy just left after terrorising everyone.

    Besides, once you disarm someone with a shotgun, getting them arrested is trivial. Just point gun at them, call police. You wouldn't really need to trial and error that.

  19. The one problem is, if there is too much of a time lapse to use the fail safe box, Abe F wouldn't be able to survive to stop Abe 0. They have to sleep in a box for however long it takes to travel back to original power-on point. If too much time goes by before Abe feels as though he needs to use the fail safe box, Abe might not survive the long wait without food. Water you can maybe create an IV that lasts long, but food for let's say a week…nah

  20. I dont think the ear bleeding and loss of penmanship comes from repeated use of time travel. I think its because the clones "living out the rest of the cylce" are watered down versions of Abe and Aaron 0

  21. Tbh, I think that like, some of the confusion from the film isn't that the concepts are too complex, but I think it's a directing issue. Like, I don't feel they highlighted what the failsafe could do? When I watched it, the failsafe came off as some like, machine to prevent someone from exiting the box early or something. I'm not saying also that they would need to have labels for the days of the week, but the whole time watching it, I was under the assumption that it was taking place over months and months, but apparently it's just in the span of one week? It's one of those things that I think worked a lot on paper and could be tracked, but in practice was confusing more on account of directing than concept. I'm all for letting the audience pick apart details to figure things out, and I loved that aspect of the movie early on, and I'm fine with peppering in things you catch on the 2nd time round (like the rats in the attic thing), but the whole emotional crux of the latter half of the film felt kinda hackneyed and kinda felt like it was out of left field. They were all scientific and logically, but it wasn't until the end of the movie that I realized the only reason stuff went wrong is because…some guy who succeeded in disarming a dangerous situation didn't think it was done as smoothly as he wanted it to?

    To me, it felt inconsistent. Look at the Fly. you have a brilliant scientist, and the only really weird/stupid decisions he makes are 1: when he's drunk, which is believable, 2: when he's being physically morphed by fly DNA and instincts. I always get annoyed by characters who are set up as logical, smart, and intelligent make decisions and actions that feel….stupid? Like the guy setting up this whole, convoluted plan recording and playing out people's dialogue, etc…, but who's too stupid to keep track of a phone?

  22. It took me 3 viewings to understand this film. I loved it. Movies and shows that make me actually think and use my brain are the best shit ever.

  23. I really think Primer would be a stronger movie if it at least ATTEMPTED to help the audience understand the plot.

  24. At first I really disagreed with you increasing the numbers of the characters as they came out of their time travel. I thought the numbers were indicators of individual characters experiencing one linear conscious experience, as in, when you change the indicator, it's a different conscious character. Since 0-Aaron getting out of the box, presumably, has the same consciousness as the one that got in it, this would make the Aaron starting the box, when 0-Aaron emerges from it, a separate consciousness, and deserving of their own specific indicator. However, when I re-contextualized it as numbers representing the amount of times each individual character had time travelled, it was much easier to follow. Thank you for making this awesome video.

  25. 18:53 – it's been a few years since I've watched Primer, so bear with me!
    Aaron 5 goes back five days to Monday. If I remember correctly, don't they have to travel backwards in real time? So he would have to spend five days in the box. I can't remember if we see him take five days worth of supplies with him…plus, let's not talk about the issues of toilet usage…

  26. This was my all time favorite science fantasy movie. I could only watch it once. In fact this is only the second video I've ever watched about it. It saddens me to understand the thought put into it but to also know the reality that time travel is not and will never be possible.

  27. LOL.. this movie is an intentional Rube Goldberg scam. It was made purposefully to be utterly impossible to understand and too complex to fully follow without a complex diagram. This was done to to get people to watch it over and over again. Thing is, you don't need to be Einstein to make a movie like this. Anyone could make a complex 100 step diagram and film it scene for scene. I doubt even the original filmmaker could understand every 100 steps of their own movie without the aid of the huge diagram they had to make to!

  28. This video is more entertaining than the film itself. I have repeated this video quite a few times, more time spent on this video than on the film.

  29. Did you just call the Writer and Director Shane Caruth "STEVE Caruth?" That's a pretty big thing to get wrong in an analysis of a film. What else did you get wrong?

  30. what a tiresome movie and an even more tiresome plot. The movie is badly acted, badly scripted and that's why it is so complicated.

  31. I don't care if Monday's blue
    Tuesday's gray and Wednesday too
    Thursday I don't care about you
    It's Friday I'm in love

  32. I was not entertained by the film because it wasn't delivering any clear pay off and then the ending didn't explain anything, but this makes me feel better about watching the film.

  33. The clearest explanation I’ve seen, thanks for this. Of course I’m thanking someone now for something they did back in 2015.

  34. After watching the movie two or three times, I am glad that I found this. As a non-native speaker I have missed quite some details.
    Also, after watching this, I'd really like to see a sequel.

  35. Although I did fully understand the movie (albeit after watching it twice in 2 days) and to this day it remains my favourite 'Logical Time-Travel Movie' of all 'time'(get it ?..lol) , unless you consider more ENTERTAINING but 'NOT-SO-LOGICAL' time travel movies [Back to the future 1-3, Men In Black 3, Project ALmanac(watch it in case you haven't…It's awesome & actually logical) , Looper, Time Lapse and many, so so many more], I THOROUGHLY LOVED YOUR ILLUSTRATED EXPLANATION! …I'M OFFICIALLY A BIG FAN NOW!

  36. To be entirely honest, after years of actively seeking out time travel stories, reading books on the scientific theories of how timeline structures might behave, and especially after immersing myself in Homestuck, this movie actually has a really kind of pretty average level of complexity to it. The difficulty in understanding it isn't in the timeline itself but in what parts are or aren't shown.

  37. If youre too dumb to get movies like primer honest to god youre what's wrong with the entertainment industry and why we get so many reality shows

  38. The party is almost an afterthought with lots of names thrown around and little to piece it together.

    The Platt sidetrip and being woken up at 3am complicated things unnecessarily. Especially since it was interrupted by Rachel's father. So in the end we have trapped Aaron, gassed Abe, and unconscious Rachel's Dad. The Dad story never reaches any closure.

    The last whole section felt very rushed. For example, I didn't realize Abe was gassing Abe. I thought they were keeping Rachel's dad sedated. I've read that the confusion is meant to mirror the confusion that the characters are feeling. But, when an audience cant tell important details, then I think something has been lost in the storytelling. Perhaps re-shoots just weren't an option at the time.

    That being said. The movie is amazing. The mind-job is just fantastic. It really does away with so many tropes of time travel.

  39. If Aaron 1 is Aaron 0 who is in the attic than he can't use the failsafe and Aaron 2 can't exist… ffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffuck

  40. I was always haunted by the idea of him building a much larger "box" at the end of the film. Imagine what he could do. Imagine having your entire house and everyone inside time-travel. Imagine a shopping center that can time travel. All the things you can fit inside. Technology. Computers. Networks. Weapons. Armies worth of people. The chaos that could be caused. He could establish his own country that lives outside the bounds of time.

  41. Wouldn't Abe F cease to exist once he accomplishes his mission, otherwise, how would he have been able to get there without doing the time-traveling up until that point?

  42. So I need to re watch this as I seem to remember the "big box" at the end had something to do with boxes in boxes? Or maybe I am just making this too complicated.

  43. They screwed up with the phone thing. It wouldn't matter if he left it or not, his double would already have a phone and should have been able to answer the call. It's not like their clothes and possessions don't get doubled also, the only thing that would be weird is the two phones existing with the same info at once.

  44. I saw this movie a yar ago.
    I watched this video a year ago.
    Still didnt get it.

    Watched this movie a few days ago.
    Watched this Vid just now.

    Now I finally get it.

    *Still wonder what Mr. Granger plot was about though
    Great writing in letting the audience come up w/ some ideas*

  45. I love this film, but they didn't quite nail the plot. I feel like they are just a few changes away from being a true classic.

  46. This would have worked; the phone could have been left somewhere before getting into the box, and recovered later. You wouldnt wind up with two phones.

  47. Thank you. I didnt fully understand the movie… I dont fully understand the explanation either. Ill watch it again. 👍

  48. I understood more than I thought. great video. Missed the whole third person using their machine scenario completely for some reason.

  49. I'm honestly too uneducated to truly understand this and I am glad that film makers don't dumb down their movies for idiots like me.

  50. I found Primer by accident when I was hospitalized in 2012, and I have watched it many times since.FWIW, I am also a trained engineer with around 45 years of experience (I vividly remember the time depicted at the start of the movie, where they are trying to make a little extra cash with Inline test cards (which are pretty much obsolete today, much to my dismay). Anyway, on first watching it I realized the movie was a recursive event, and started mapping it out – as I am writing this in 2019, I'm still working on it!

    This is the perfect movie for people built like us! We love puzzles, and the harder the puzzle, the more fun we have. Meanwhile my wife is sick to death of both Primer (which she liked, but didn't go gaga over like I did), and of my never ending analysis of it. The more I try to unpuzzle this, the more I am convinced that it is a puzzle without a firm answer: some of the variables are simply unknown as well as unknowable – and paradoxically, this just make the movie, and it's analysis, that much more enjoyable! So sick, I know!

  51. Thank you so much, I love this movie but there were a couple pieces that left me wondering if I got it or just liked it, even after several viewings (not the sharpest tool) as said on another comment it was the animations that locked it in from I think to ah I know. if that makes since. Now knowing I got it as well bring a certain calming effect as a filmmaker, thank you

  52. I have spent ten years and countless hours trying to understand and map out everything this movie had to offer, and I could never grasp it. This video has finally done it, and I cannot thank you enough.

  53. Good concept, good story. Bad, bad, bad execution.The scripting, the editing, the filming, the scene blocking, the audio recording, the dialog overlapping, the mumbling, the lighting, all fucking terrible!
    There are films made on lesser budgets that have good story, capable (amateur) actors, & fine execution even considering the budgetary limitations. This film was crap in those departments.

  54. So, it seems to me that you can turn off the boxes after you have traveled back and just leave 2 versions in the timeline. Is this right? I think this because Aaron 1 had to use Abe’s failsafe by turning it off on Wednesday and returning to 5am Monday and becoming Aaron 2. However, he doesn’t get in Abe’s failsafe again and it doesn’t get turned off again until Abe uses it on Friday. This means that Aaron 1->2 isn’t in there anymore.

    Also, it seems that the future doesn’t get revised as soon as they get in the box as they both use their own failsafe’s and it’s pretty unlikely that the both entered the boxes simultaneously.

  55. This video really makes me appreciate the film thanks so much. A lot of awesome comments that unfold the movie to you too. How did you decipher this film in the first place? I've seen it about 5 times now and I wouldn't be able to make this timeline as well as you.

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