Although Back to the Future and Bill and Ted might be the most epic films about time travel ever created, they are certainly not the first. We have been making movies about time travel for almost 100 years. Here’s our list of the first time-travel films in recorded history.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1921)
Based on the 1889 Mark Twain novel, this film is a silent adaptation with a satirical undertone. Sadly, only three of the film’s eight reels have survived the nearly 100 years since its release. Unfortunately, we can’t travel back in time to save it. The success of this film has seen several remakes of it over the years.
Just Imagine (1930)
A strange form of time travel. A man from 1930 is struck by lightning and is stuck in suspended animation until he is revived again in a very weird version of 1980. The musical comedy sees airplanes replacing cars and government arranged marriages while taking a rocket ship to Mars is something almost anyone can do. Babies come from vending machines and food comes in the form of a pill. The main character continually references to “the good old days” and with a future like this, who can blame him?
Turn Back the Clock (1933)
Joe, a married man gets hit by a car and is transported back 20 years into his younger self. Still, with all the memories of his former life, Joe tries to make right on his previous mistakes by marrying a rich woman. As time passes, he realizes that the wealth has not made him happy. Things come to a head when his two lives connect.
Berkeley Square (1933)
Peter Standish finds an old diary in the house he has inherited in Berkeley Square. The diary belonged to an ancestor from the year 1784. Somehow, the diary transports Peter back to 1784 where he struggles with the lifestyle and falls in love. The film was a box office flop, but the lead actor did get an Oscar nomination.
The first movie to ever feature a time machine. This Hungarian film is based on the Ferenc Herczeg novel from 1894. The novel was also adapted by Imre Földes into a play. The science behind the film (though incorrect) was pretty good for the time as the time machine is said to work by traveling faster than the Earth’s rotation.
Time Flies (1944)
A music-hall performer discovers a professor’s time machine and they use it to travel back to the 1500s. The locals of the time don’t take kindly to the “prophesying” by their visitors. They end up in prison and use some modern technology to escape and return home. The film is a musical comedy, although it wasn’t liked by the critics very much.
These movies were good and they had their time, but we are glad they can stay in the past. Things sure have come a long way for time travel movies since 1921. The past 100 years have seen at least 750 films about time travel come and go. Some have been brilliant and some have been downright terrible.