ICFIFC: Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)

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Monday, April 21, 2014

ICFIFC: Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)

Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann is a 1982 time travel-influenced action film starring Fred Ward as Lyle Swann, a cross country dirt bike racer.  The movie was scored, produced and co-written (with director William Dear) by Michael Nesmith.

Robert Michael Nesmith (born December 30, 1942) is an American musician, songwriter, actor, producer, novelist, businessman, and philanthropist, best known as a member of the rock band The Monkees and co-star of The Monkees TV series (1966–1968).  Nesmith is a songwriter, including "Different Drum" (sung by Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Poneys), and executive producer of the cult film Repo Man (1984).  He also is credited with creating the genre of the music video.  In 1981, Nesmith won the first Grammy Award given for Video of the Year for his hour-long television show, Elephant Parts1.

Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann (1982)

  • Genre: Action – Adventure – Sci -Fi
  • Directed: William Dear
  • Produced:
    • Harry Gittes 
    • Lester Berman 
    • Michael Nesmith
  • Written:
    • William Dear 
    • Michael Nesmith
  • Starring: Fred Ward, Belinda Bauer, Peter Coyote, Richard Masur, Tracey Walter, Ed Lauter, L.Q. Jones, Chris Mulkey, Macon McCalman, Jonathan Bahnks, Laurie O'Brien
  • Music: Michael Nesmith
  • Cinematography: Larry Pizer
  • Editing:
    • R.J. Kizer 
    • Suzanne Pettit 
    • Kim Secrist
  • Studio: Zoomo Productions
  • Distributed:
    • Jensen Farley Pictures  
    • Citadel Films  
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • Anchor Bay Entertainment  
    • H.R.S. Funai Co. Ltd.  
    • Shout! Factory
  • Rated:
  • Release Date: 11 December 1982 (US)
  • Running Time: 94 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English

Lyle Swann (Fred Ward) is a well-known dirt bike motorcycle racer who is in the desert competing in the Baja 1000, a multiclass vehicle cross-country race.  Swann has a reputation for being a great rider but is plagued by technical problems from the high-tech gadgetry he incorporates into his C and J framed XT500 Yamaha.  When Swann accidentally goes far off course, he stumbles across a time travel experiment that utilizes "maser velocity acceleration" to send objects (in this case, a simian subject by the name of Ester G) back in time.

Swann rides through the field and gets sent back to November 5, 1875.  The scientists in charge of the experiment soon realize what has happened, but Swann rides off, unaware of what has happened to him, before he can be returned to the present.  While taking a swim break in a local spring, he runs into a gang of outlaws led by Porter Reese.  Reese becomes obsessed with stealing Swann's motorcycle, and the outlaws pursue Swann into the small village of San Marcos, but his red suit and dirt bike scare the local Mexicans, who think he is the Devil. There, he meets a beautiful woman, Claire Cygne, who gives him a safe place to hide and severely wounds one of Reese's men.  The village priest compels them to withdraw, but Reese continues to plot the capture of Swann's dirt bike.  In the village, Swann is seduced by Claire and sleeps with her, but she is later kidnapped by Reese's gang as revenge for her shooting and wounding one of them.  They also manage to capture the dirt bike, leading to a series of hijinks, while Swann gets help from a posse trying to capture or kill the gang.  Swann manages to retrieve his dirt bike and rescue Claire, but the posse's leader is killed, and another is mortally wounded and dies later.

In a final showdown, Reese's band of outlaws faces Swann, the last survivor of the posse, and Claire atop a plateau.  When a helicopter shows up (sent by the builders of the time travel experiment) to take Swann home, Reese's men run away in fear, but Reese stays behind and fires at the helicopter, killing one of the pilots.  The helicopter begins spinning wildly as the surviving pilot tries to maintain control, knocking the dirt bike off the side of the plateau.  Reese is killed by the helicopter's tail rotor.  The helicopter manages to land on the plateau and extract Swann.  Just as the helicopter pulls away, Claire snatches a pendant from Swann's neck that was handed down from his great-great-grandmother, who had stolen it from his great-great grandfather as a reminder of "one incredible night they had together."  Swann realizes that he is his own great-great-grandfather2.

The off-screen dialogue heard over the opening credits explains the time travel experiment as having the goal of sending a Rhesus monkey to the year 1862 (according to the inscription on the canister containing the monkey which Swann reads aloud, the experiment begins on November 4, 1982).  After Swann stumbles into the experiment, the scientists in charge of the experiment determine that Swann and the monkey were sent to about "1875," then later pinpoint the date as being November 5, 1877.  The screenplay's "time travel arrival day" of November 5 had first appeared in 1979's Time After Time; and was also the "time travel arrival day" in a later film, 1985's Back to the Future.

In addition to the grandfather paradox3 and the predestination paradox4 presented in the film, the necklace that Claire takes from Lyle presents an ontological paradox (i.e., an object with no creation point and continually in the time-loop), similar to the pocket watch in the 1980 time-travel film Somewhere in Time.  These paradoxes were highlighted in the 2004 South Park episode "Goobacks," where various time-traveling techniques in movies are compared.

Timerider (1982)

 

Notes:

1.  Elephant Parts is a collection of comedy and music videos made in 1981 by Michael Nesmith, former member of the Monkees.  Nesmith produced the video through his company Pacific Arts, using money he inherited from his mother, the inventor of Liquid Paper.  Elephant Parts is one hour long and features five full length music videos, including the popular songs "Rio", and "Cruisin'", which featured wrestler Steve Strong and Monterey-based comic "Chicago" Steve Barkley.

2.  The bootstrap paradox, or ontological paradox, is a paradox of time travel in which information or objects can exist without having been created.  After information or an object is sent back in time, it is recovered in the present and becomes the very object or information that was initially brought back in time in the first place.  Numerous science fiction stories are based on this paradox, which has also been the subject of serious physics articles.  The term "bootstrap paradox" refers to the expression "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps"; the use of the term for the time-travel paradox was popularized by Robert A. Heinlein's story By His Bootstraps.

3.  The grandfather paradox is a proposed paradox of time travel first described by the science fiction writer RenĂ© Barjavel in his 1943 book Le Voyageur Imprudent (Future Times Three).  The paradox is described as follows: the time traveller went back in time to the time when his grandfather had not married yet and killed him.  As a result, the time traveller was never born when he was meant to be.  If he was never born, then he is unable to travel through time and kill his grandfather, which means the traveller would be born after all, and so on.

4.  A predestination paradox (also called causal loop, causality loop, and, less frequently, closed loop or closed time loop) is a paradox of time travel that is often used as a convention in science fiction.  It exists when a time traveler is caught in a loop of events that "predestines" or "predates" him or her to travel back in time.  Because of the possibility of influencing the past while time traveling, one way of explaining why history does not change is by saying that whatever has happened must happen.  This means either that time travelers attempts to alter the past in this model, intentionally or not, would only fulfill their role in creating history as we know it and not change it or that time-travelers' personal knowledge of history already includes their future travels in their own experience of the past (for the Novikov self-consistency principle).

 

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