New Year's Eve, 1899. The dawn of a new century. Four Victorian gentlemen assemble on a cold, snowy night to accept the invitation of their mutual friend, George, to dinner and a demonstration of his "time machine", as he explains to them the novel concept of the "fourth dimension".
What happens next challenges their "modern" perceptions and understanding of science, and George is plunged on a fantastic trip backwards and forwards over humanity's past and future, all the while observing it all through his learned, scientific and Victorian eyes.
Otherwise a relatively faithful adaption of H.G. Wells's original novel, the film eschews Wells's cynical observations about the British class system and about mankind's ultimately insignificant place in an indifferent cosmos, and features the young Australian actor, Rod Taylor in the lead role (giving the character youthful, optimistic and idealistic qualities) and an increased emphasis on heroic action and adventure. The other ingredients in the mix are the Academy Award-winning special effects of the day (blue-backed traveling mattes, double-printed background sets, time-lapse photography, and models and miniatures), and a story of love across time, not to mention a glimpse of the Victorian era as seen through the eyes of a 1960's design sensibility. And the idea of fantastic technology archaically wrapped and realized in brass, rivets, art nouveau arabesques, and crystal mechanisms can arguably be seen as an influence on today's steampunk genre.
And, as the final drop of celebratory champagne, one of the film's final lines presents the ultimate question for the avid bibliophile; consider…which three books would you have taken?