In Alexander Monelli’s short silent film, Time Travel Boy, a young boy (Peter Sansky-Traficanti) learns to deal with the grief of a sudden loss. Every day, the young boy waits anxiously by the front door for his Mom (Diane Bakos) to walk in, usually at 5:20pm exactly, while Dad (Todd Stuckley) sits in his chair. On Mom’s birthday, the boy waits with gift for Mom to arrive home, but she never does. We learn that she has died.
What follows is the boy trying to figure out a way to be with his mother again. Inspired by a chance encounter with a pretty sad-looking magician, and a poster on his bedroom wall, the boy decides to make a time machine and travel back to be with his mother, if only to give her the gift he’d been saving. Does he succeed?
Time Travel Boy is a whimsical tale with a deep, sad core. The score is mostly playful, and the actions are obviously inspired by how a child might process something so tragic and attempt to “solve” it. That is what gives it the lighthearted feel, though obviously a child losing their mother is anything but.
So to the film’s credit, it delivers a bitter pill in a delightful way, which I imagine might be helpful in reminding others about what is important and what they still have after suffering a tragic loss. The young boy may or may not have succeeded in his goal to revisit his mother prior to her death to deliver her present, but the adventure opens his eyes to those around him that are still there, and may need his help to address their own feelings of grief.
While I do think there are universal touchstones about tragedy and loss to be found here for all age groups, I liken this short film to those children’s books that attempt to explain challenging concepts to children through story, to help the children understand their own feelings. In that way, I think Time Travel Boy could be used to help other children, and perhaps that’s where the film’s true audience resides.
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