Timeline (2003) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A group of archaeologists become trapped in the past when they go there to retrieve a friend. The group must survive in 14th-century France before they can escape back to the twenty-first century.

  • A group of archaeologists and combat experts led by Chris Johnston (Paul Walker) and Kate Ericson (Frances O'Connor) use a "3-D fax machine" to time-travel back to France in 1357, in hopes of retrieving Chris' father, Professor Edward Johnston (Sir Billy Connolly), and returning safely to the present. No such luck. Fending for themselves against marauding hordes of medieval French warriors at war with the invading British, these semi-intrepid travellers find their body count rising, and the deadline for their return home is rapidly approaching.

  • Time travel always changes the present. When a group of archeologists go back to 1357 on a rescue mission, they find themselves in the middle of a war between the English and the French troops. They try to return to the present safely altogether.

  • Directing his first movie since Lethal Weapon 4 (1998), Richard Donner directed this big-budget adaptation of Michael Crichton's novel of the same name. Featuring a script by first-time Screenwriter George Nolfi, this movie begins in France in the near future. A group of students from Yale are there studying a medieval site, when Professor Edward Johnston (Sir Billy Connolly) mysteriously goes missing. To make matters more enigmatic, the students are then taken back to the United States by a shadowy technology company called ITC, led by Robert Doniger (David Thewlis). The eccentric Doniger explains that because of a machine that his company built, their professor is trapped in fourteenth century France. In order to rescue him, two of the students, Chris Johnston (Paul Walker) and Kate Ericson (Frances O'Connor), along with Andre Marek (Gerard Butler), an archaeological site manager, must travel to France, circa 1357, amidst archaic war, deadly diseases, and other unexpected pitfalls. Meanwhile, David Stern (Ethan Embry), a third student, stays behind to keep an eye on the shady Doniger.

  • In the heart of the beautiful and historically rich Dordogne Valley of France, a team of archeology students and their professor diligently work to uncover the ruins of a fourteenth century castle. For Professor Edward Johnston (Sir Billy Connolly), the project is the culmination of a life-long dream. Aided by Assistant Professor Andre Marek (Gerard Butler), his son Chris (Paul Walker), and students Kate Ericson (Frances O'Connor), David Stern (Ethan Embry), and François Dontelle (Rossif Sutherland), Johnston has made major strides in unearthing not only La Roque Castle, but also a monastery and structures from the surrounding village of Castlegard. But things are about to go haywire. Suspicious of the dig's benefactor, International Technology Corporation (ITC) and the man who runs it, Robert Doniger (David Thewlis), Professor Johnston heads to ITC headquarters in New Mexico to get some answers, and while he's away, his students discover a chamber that has been sealed for more than six hundred years. Marek and Kate descend into the unstable room, and just before a nearly disastrous cave-in, they make two startling discoveries - a bifocal lens, which couldn't have been invented before the chamber was sealed, and even more intriguing, a handwritten plea for help dated April 2, 1357... from Professor Johnston. Determined to solve the mystery, the students head for ITC headquarters, where they are stunned to learn of Doniger's new invention - a machine that can actually transmit three-dimensional objects through space. Although he meant for the device to revolutionize shipping, Doniger inadvertently opened a wormhole that lead directly to the fourteenth century, and Professor Johnston, who had insisted on experiencing the discovery himself, is now trapped in a vicious French vs. English feudal war. Can Johnston's loyal students survive one of the most violent battles in world history, and make it back to the twenty-first century alive?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • A man is trying to escape through the forest from a pursuing knight. Just as the knight catches him and hits him with the sword the man disappears. Soon after that the man is discovered barely alive in the middle of the desert, only able to tell a single word - Castlegard. He dies shortly after being transferred to the hospital. One of the physicians discovers a pendant around his neck with the ITC Corp. label. The X-ray photos show many internal organs, veins and bones are out of alignment for an unknown reason. Soon after that an ITC Corp. employee shows up and identifies the dead man as Vincent Taub. He picks up his body and the company decides to cover up the incident.

    Archaeologist Prof. Edward Johnston (Billy Connolly) and his students Kate Erickson (Frances O'Connor), Josh Stern (Ethan Embry), François Dontelle (Rossif Sutherland), and André Marek (Gerard Butler) have been sponsored by the ITC Corp. to excavate the ruins of the village of Castlegard in France near La Roque Castle; the village was burned in 1357 during the Hundred Years War as part of a massive battle. The hanging of Lady Claire (Anna Friel), the sister of Arnaud de Cervole, inspired the French to victory. Prof. Johnston's son, Chris (Paul Walker) is more infatuated with Kate than digging, until Marek shows him a sarcophagus of a French knight with a lopped ear, in an unusual position, holding hands with his lady beside for eternity.

    Prof. Johnston suspects ITC confabulation, and flies to their headquarters in New Mexico. But a few days later without word, the team finds a 600-year-old parchment plea for help, and one dropped bifocal lens from the professor. Chris calls ITC for his father; they promise to explain all in New Mexico. ITC president Robert Doniger (David Thewlis) and vice-president Steven Kramer (Matt Craven) explain a teleportation device transports via wormhole to Castlegard in 1357 - time travel. Prof. Johnston needs rescuing from the past. Chris, Kate, and André talk François into going as their only competent French speaker. Three marines provide security, but the chief has a secret mission to kill someone. They don appropriate clothing and special markers that will return them to the present when pressed, but only last six hours. When a marker lights with time remaining, a small energy pulse shows on present-day display.

    The group land smack into danger, first a rushing river, then pursuing English riders, warned by French fugitive, Lady Claire (Anna Friel). The two marines are killed. One, dying, presses his marker home, but the forbidden grenade he carried damages the time machine. Claire reunites with her brother Arnaud (Lambert Wilson) temporarily, but English forces take the others to Lord Oliver de Vannes (Michael Sheen). He insists their interpreter translate "I am a spy" from French, kills François, and throws them in an attic where the professor is already held.

    Kate, the lightest weight and best climber, sneaks out the roof, and frees the others to fight their way free, so all regret the necessity to kill. Sir William DeKere (Marton Csokas) reveals his identity as former ITC employee William Decker, body ravaged by repeated time travel. Doniger hid the fact that the machine damaged DNA and internal organs. Decker takes their markers and kills the last chief marine Frank Gordon. One marker is enough to take them all back, but they have to stay alive, and gather in an area with thirty square feet around free of obstacles. André again rescues Claire, foiling history, they fall in love, as do Chris and Kate. Kate leads Chris, then Arnaud's troops to the monastery secret underground tunnel at La Roque Castle, allowing the battle to turn in favor of the French as in the original history. Lord Oliver captures Claire but is killed by Arnaut, and André is attacked by DeKere who cuts his ear off. Realizing he is the knight buried in the sarcophagus empowers him to kill deKere and send the others off to a clear field for travel home.

    In the present, Josh and Kramer repair the machine despite Doniger's eagerness to write off the loss of lives for greater scientific good. Doniger runs into the transmit area while the others return, but in France without a marker, is cut down by a charging knight. Later, back at Castlegard, the three archaeologists read the sarcophagus inscription from André and Claire, detailing three children, Christophe, Katherine, François, and a full joyous life together.

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