Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Spike Goes Time Travelling!

Well, he's certainly keeping himself busy these days, which is a good thing I suppose, and diversifying his portfolio too - from a heist movie (Inside Man), to a documentary (When The Levees Broke), to a World War 2 movie (Miracle At St Anna), and now a sci-fi time travel spectacle! Go Spike!

From Variety Magazine:

Spike Lee will co-write and direct Time Traveler, a feature adaptation of a memoir by Ronald Mallett, one of the nation's first African-Americans to earn a Ph.D in theoretical physics. Lee acquired Time Traveler: A Scientist's Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality with his own money and has set up the project through his Forty Acres & A Mule Filmworks banner.

Mallett, who wrote the book with Bruce Henderson, recounts his rise from poverty to a distinguished academic and scientific career, and it lays out the technical specs for what Mallett envisions as a workable time machine. Developing a time machine became an obsession for Mallett from the age of 10 after his father's death. His goal was to travel back in time to save his father.

This excites me for various reasons - mostly because we rarely get to see a film like this, told from a black person's perspective. I've always thought that a novel like Kindred, Octavia Butler's time travel exploration of slavery, would make a good movie, and even a somewhat commercial one, but despite several efforts from different independent producers who've optioned the book in the past, it's never been able to raise the necessary funds to see it through production. Maybe a successful Spike Lee time travel joint with Time traveler will make Kindred much more attractive to financiers.

The fact that Spike shelled out his own money for the rights to the book is a plus in my book! I appreciate that kind of aggressiveness, something black cinema needs more of. No word on production dates, casting, etc. It's probably too early for any of that anyway. A script first needs to be adapted from the material. And then there's always the challenging financing part. So, I'd say this won't be coming to a theatre near you for another 2 years.

I've never heard of nor read Mallet's Time Traveler, but you can guarantee that I'll be ordering my copy from ASAP, and you can too by clicking

I did a little digging on Ronald Mallet and found a few video clips of him talking about his book, including this one below from September 2007. I'm certainly inspired to learn more about the man, so expect more posts on this blog about him:


  1. Nic said...

    This sounds really interesting.

    Obenson, any thoughts on who should play the lead?

  2. The Obenson Report said...

    I should read the novel first before saying. It all depends on what part of the man's life will end up on screen. From the writeup, it looks like it covers the man's life from, childhood to adult. I'm guessing Spike will focus mostly on the adult. Given that Mallet is 63 years old, the film could cover a 20-year period, since he's been thinking about and working on time travel for just about his entire adult life, which makes it tricky because whoever is chosen would have to be in his 40s, and with the magic of makeup, aged as the film progresses. So, that narrows it down to just a handful of actors in that 40-something age range - Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Wright (he'd probably be my first choice if Spike goes the path I just described), Denzel Washington (although he's in his 50s now, however, I can see Spike going with him since they've worked together several times before)... who else? Unless Spike goes with an unknown, but I doubt it, especially if the budget is substantial. What do you think?

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