I think mostly everyone would agree that Primer was a difficult movie to watch mainly because it was so difficult to understand. I didn’t understand the film myself, until I read the explanation from http://qntm.org/primer, after which I still didn’t seem to understand it completely. After getting a clearer picture of what the film is actually about, I’m still unsure about whether I liked it or not. But before that, here are a couple of reasons why the film was so difficult.
What was actually happening in the film didn’t seem to match up with the dialogue. Not because the dialogue was unrelated, but because the dialogue didn’t help make things any clearer. The scientific terminology accompanied by the confusing doubling of Abe and Aaron made for a mess of a film. I honestly reached a point where I wasn’t sure if I was trying to follow what I was hearing or what I was seeing. This made it seem impossible to understand what was going on, admittedly causing me to feel as though I wanted to just give up and not watch. More importantly however, I didn’t stop watching. This might have been simply because I didn’t have the option of just stopping the movie to do something else, but I also know that a part of it was my curiosity to understand anything really. Second was the presentation of the plot. From when I had finally picked up on the fact that they were hiding in the hotel to avoid encountering their duplicates, I began to wonder which versions of the characters I was seeing. I looked for clues and started thinking that maybe something was different when were being shown the originals from when we were seeing the duplicates. Aside from how confused I already was, this seemed to distract me even more. I couldn’t tell if I just understood more or less.
By the final scenes of the film I still felt that I had no idea what was going on. I didn’t know which versions of the characters I was seeing, I didn’t understand what happened at the party, I didn’t understand why Granger was following them and why he was different. After reading the explanation, I still feel that I don’t understand what really happened and I feel that the things I learned from the blog entry, I couldn’t have figured out from seeing the film.
I feel that Primer was just too difficult and too tiring to enjoy. It is undeniable however, after trying so much to understand it, that there is a story in there somewhere. The idea of time travel in this film was actually interesting, and the story as it was written could have actually been a good one. I just don’t think it was presented in such a way that made it accessible to the audience. I feel that it could have been a lot easier to understand if visual cues were made use of more creatively as in Punch-Drunk Love. Although the other versions of Aaron for example, were shown wearing different clothes, it still wasn’t clear that there were 3 different versions of him.
I think so much could have done to make the movie easier to understand, and that would have actually made for a better film. If the presentation made it more easily accessible, I think the intricate plot could actually have stood out more and have made the film more enjoyable.