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After a scientific experiment goes horribly wrong during a demonstration, a scientist finds himself trapped in an alternate reality that bears some similarities to our own, but also has some striking differences. In this other reality the Second World War had never occurred, mankind had not yet traveled into Space and Mt. Everest had not yet been conquered, just to name a few things. Also in this other reality he is no longer a scientist but rather a well known author. He also finds that he is married to a beautiful woman who he instantly falls in love with but who his alternate self never cared for. He has some difficulty convincing anyone that he is not actually who they think he is. With the help of a physics professor who believes his story, he finally manages to convince his 'wife' that he is not the man she knew before. After a personal tragedy in this alternate world, he finds himself back in his own world and desperately trying to locate the woman he fell in love with in the ... Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
To my considerable annoyance, every time this movie has been shown on TV I haven't had my VCR ready to record. I've probably seen it about three or four times, on the proverbial rainy afternoons when little-regarded films are broadcast. It's been described by other IMDb reviewers as a sci-fi love story, and it certainly is that. But it's also a rare foray for a mainstream movie into counterfactual history. (In this respect it resembles novels such as Kingsley Amis's "The Alteration", Keith Roberts' "Pavane" and Robert Harris's "Fatherland" more than it resembles other movies.) Colin Bell, a physicist, finds himself in a parallel version of our world after an experiment that goes wrong. The Second World War has not happened, and in all kinds of subtle and intriguing ways society is less advanced. The course of his own life has been drastically different as well: he is a playwright and novelist, not a physicist; he attended Oxford (arts and humanities-based) not Cambridge (science-based); his best friend (played by Denholm Elliot) has not lost his arm in WW2; most significantly, while single in OUR world, he discovers that he is, albeit unfaithfully, married in this one.
I'll concede that the conclusion of the movie IS rushed, but the rest of it is so superbly executed that I'm prepared to overlook this. Of course not all of the implications of this bizarre scenario are investigated; how could they be in a 90-minute movie? I'd agree with the other IMDb reviewer, who remarked that OUR world is limned far less vividly than its doppelganger. But this is surely as it should be; after all, we KNOW our world.
The unanswered question that has nagged me every time I have seen the movie is: Where is the other Colin Trafford? Surely the arrogant, womanising drunk isn't on the loose in our world, wreaking havoc in the the domain of research physics? (I think we're meant to assume that he's temporarily inhabiting his double's comatose body in hospital.) What is highly ingenious, and could pass unnoticed, such is the subtlety of its handling, is the way in which, although we never actually see him, we infer from people's reactions exactly what sort of person the other Colin Trafford was. (I'm reminded of the scene in the original "Nutty Professor" in which Buddy Love is introduced; we see him, at first, entirely in terms of other people's reactions.)
We still seem to be too near to the 60s and 70s (psychologically if not chronologically) for people to overlook the now-quaint fashions. Come on, though! Even the 70s are thirty years ago now. We're not surprised to see people in Edwardian times, or the 1930s, dressed in radically different clothes. Why should it strike as odd (and funny) that people more than a generation ago inhabited a universe more different from ours than the one that physicist Colin Trafford finds himself in? Every time I read someone dismiss a movie because the fashions are dated I want to scream! Such a lack of historical perspective means that there's a very real danger that anyone much under 40 or so will not be able to observe the subtle, but very real, contrast between the "real" world in "Quest For Love", and its slightly more old-fashioned twin, and will thus miss out on an important layer of the movie's meaning.
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