Primer (2004) Poster


Shane Carruth: Aaron



  • Aaron : Man, are you hungry? I haven't eaten since later this afternoon.

  • Aaron : You know that story, about how NASA spent millions of dollars developing this pen that writes in Zero G? Did you ever read that?

    Abe : Yeah.

    Aaron : You know how the Russians solved the problem?

    Abe : Yeah, they used a pencil.

    Aaron : Right. A normal wooden pencil. It just seems like Philip takes the NASA route almost every time.

  • Abe : I'm not into the whole "destiny, there's-only-one-right-way" thing.

    Aaron : Abe, I'm not either, but what's worse? You know, thinking you're being paranoid or knowing you should be?

  • [last lines] 

    Aaron : [voiceover]  Now I have repaid any debt I may have owed you. You know all that I know. My voice is the only proof that you will have of the truth of any of this. I might have written a letter with my signature, but my handwriting is not what it used to be. Maybe you've had the presence of mind to record this. That's your prerogative. You will not be contacted by me again. And if you look... you will not find me.

  • Aaron : [voiceover on the phone continued from the beginning]  I can tell you with certainty what I did that night, when it was my turn, but I think it would do little good. Because what the world remembers, the actuality, the last revision, is what counts, apparently. So, how many times did it take Aaron, as he cycled through the same conversations, lip-synching trivia over and over? How many times would it take, before he got it right? Three? Four? Twenty? I've decided to believe that only one more would have done it. I can almost sleep at night, if there's only one more. Slowly and methodically, he reverse-engineered a perfect moment. He took from his surroundings what was needed, and made of it something more. And once the details had been successfully navigated, there was nothing more. Maybe the last minute moral debate... until the noise of the room escalates into panic and background screams, as the gunman walks in.

  • Aaron : [voiceover on the phone continued from the beginning; intercut with some live-action dialogue]  The permutations were endless. They tried again going to the source, but even while keeping them separated from Abe by two rooms, Thomas Granger's condition could only be described as vegetative. From this, they deduced that the problem was recursive; but, beyond that, found themselves admitting, against their own nature, and once again, that the answer was unknowable. The question should have been what to do with the comatose man in the guest bedroom, but in Abe's mind, he was already compiling the list.

  • Aaron : Look, Abe, look, I'm not going to pretend like I know anything, okay, about paradoxes, you know, or what follows them. And, honestly, I really don't believe in any of that group anyway, you know, kill your mom before you're born, whatever. It must work itself out, somehow.

  • [while Aaron and Abe are in the hotel room, Aaron2 and Abe2 are on the street when Aaron2's cell phone rings. They realize the enormity of the problem] 

    Aaron : I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I forgot it was in my pocket.

    Abe : It's Kara.

    Aaron : Yeah.

    Abe : [sighs in frustration]  How, how do cell phones work? If, if there's two duplicate phones and I call the same number, do they both ring at the same time, or is there...

    Aaron : That's not how it works.

    Abe : Yes, it's a radio signal, so it...

    Aaron : No, it's a network. The network, the network checks each area. When it finds a phone, it stops ringing. It only, it rings the first one.

    Abe : This, this one's ringing.

    Aaron : [wiping his face]  Right.

    Abe : So, the one your double has in Russellfield can't be...

    Aaron : Right. I think we broke symmetry.

    Abe : Are you sure that's how cell phones work?

    Aaron : [the hand rubbing his temple falls to his side, and he smiles in despair]  No.

  • [first lines] 

    Aaron : [Sound of a phone ringing. Aaron, voiceover:]  Here's what's going to happen. I'm gonna read this, and you're gonna listen, and you're gonna stay on the line. And you're not gonna interrupt, and you're not gonna speak for any reason. Some of this you know. I'm gonna start at the top of the page.


    Aaron : Meticulous, yes. Methodical, educated; they were these things. Nothing extreme. Like anyone, they varied. There were days of mistakes and laziness and in-fighting, and there were days, good days, when by anyone's judgment they would have to be considered clever. No one would say that what they were doing was complicated. It wouldn't even be considered new, except for maybe in the geological sense. They took from their surroundings what was needed and made of it something more.

  • [repeated line] 

    Aaron : [voiceover]  They took from their surroundings what was needed... and made of it something more.

  • Aaron : [voiceover, continuing the phone recording with which the movie opens]  And there was value in the thing, clearly, that they were certain of. But what is the application? In a matter of hours, they had given it into everything from mass transit to satellite launching, imagining devices the size of jumbo jets. Everything would be cheaper. It was practical, and they knew it. But above all that, beyond the positives, they knew that the easiest way to be exploited is to sell something they did not yet understand. So they kept quiet.

  • Aaron : You want to put my camcorder inside the box that's so dangerous we can't look into it.

    [pause. He accepts the fate of the camcorder] 

    Aaron : If something happens, would you pay me back?

    Abe : So we have a slightly negative pressure in the box. So we're ready for the argon.

    [He puts a Weeble into the device's box] 

    Aaron : Wait, which one is that?

    Abe : It's the blue one.

    Aaron : The blue one.

    Abe : I weighed it at 77 grams. I set the scale to decagrams, though. I'm showing 7. 7 decagrams. Ready for .05 liters of argon.

    [Aaron is checking tubing and proceeding to start the machine up] 

    Abe : Ready?

    Aaron : Just the plate first, right?

    Abe : Right, first just the plate, and then we'll...

    [the device begins to hum] 

    Abe : Okay. Let's just give it a second.

    [Aaron watches the diode readout, which begins at 7.7, then falls to 7.4, 7.2, 6.9] 

    Aaron : You want to do the box now?

    Abe : [happily]  Yeah. Okay, let's go through the checklist, and - Aaron, hold on a second. Let's make sure everything's set up right. Hold on, Aaron. Wait! Just wait! Okay.

    [Aaron pushes a toggle. The device becomes loud and the TV screen shows the Weeble agitating rapidly inside the box] 

    Aaron : Anything? Is this normal?

    Abe : I don't know.

    Aaron : I'm turning it off.

    Abe : Wait! No.

    Aaron : It's my camera, we don't have enough money...

    [the device suddenly powers down] 

    Aaron : Okay, I didn't do that.

    Abe : Did we blow something?

  • [Aaron and Abe are lowering the metallic containment-field shield over the device] 

    Abe : Isn't there some sort of... glass... or transparent - I don't know of anything that we could use as a window. Pyrex?

    Aaron : [referring to the side of the shielding that he's sliding into the frame]  Yeah, I'm in.

    Abe : [following Aaron's lead with the casing]  Okay, drop it.

    Aaron : I don't know of anything that's not going to leave a gap in the field. But we gotta see what's going on in there.

    Abe : How much would that cost?

    Aaron : [with a sarcastic huff]  Yeah.

    Abe : What?

    Aaron : You want to put my camcorder inside the box that's so dangerous we can't look into it.

  • Abe : I just want you to see it the way I saw it.

    Aaron : I am trying, okay, I really am here.

    Abe : Look, everything we're putting into that box becomes ungrounded, and I don't mean grounded like to the earth, I mean, not tethered. I mean, we're blocking whatever keeps it moving forward and so they flip-flop. Inside the box it's like a street, both ends are cul-de-sacs. I mean, this isn't frame dragging or wormhole magic this is basic mechanics and heat 101.

    Aaron : This is *not* mechanics and heat.

  • Abe : Whoa. You're bleeding.

    [Takes handkerchief and places it on his ear] 

    Aaron : I got it.

    [Holds it to his ear] 

    Aaron : Is this normal? This isn't normal.

    Abe : For the machine?

    Aaron : No! For people. What you think it's the machine?

    [Abe looks as if to help] 

    Aaron : All right, I got it!

  • Aaron : I think my body's getting used to these 36-hour days.

  • Abe : What'd you do to this thing?

    Aaron : Huh? What?

    Abe : It looks like a dog digested it!

  • Kara : Did you call pest control?

    Aaron : Babe, they're birds. You don't want a bunch of dead baby birds up there, do you?

    Kara : They don't sound like birds.

    Aaron : [to Abe]  She thinks there are rats in the attic.

  • Aaron : We know everything, okay? We're prescient.

  • Abe : What's wrong with our hands?

    Aaron : [has his arms tightly wrapped around his chest, his hands tight under his armpits]  What do you mean?

    Abe : [almost shouting]  Why can't we write like normal people?

    Aaron : [quietly]  I don't know. I can see the letters... I know what they should look like, I just can't get my hand to make them easily.

    [Abe is rocking back and forth against the desk; Aaron is quietly jittering] 

    Abe : Try comparing it to your left hand.

    Aaron : It's almost the same.

  • Aaron : What, what he's saying is...

    Abe : What I'm saying is, we drop the box down on it, okay, focus our own magnetic field to negate and knock out the inverse - what's going on inside the ceramic - and that should change the transition temperature to something we can work with.

    Aaron : What are we saying that is?

    Abe : Hopefully, near room temperature.

    Aaron : What is that about, uh, the best mathematician's a lazy one?

  • [Abe and Aaron are discussing the fact that the device is working with more energy than they're putting into it via the batteries] 

    Abe : It is weird, though.

    Aaron : You wanna see something even weirder?

    [Abe looks at him questioningly] 

    Aaron : Okay, let's go over this again. Two batteries, right? 24 volts? What are we pulling out of this one? Just for fun.

    Abe : Twelve volts.

    [Aaron unplugs the 12-volt battery and kicks it away from the device, which continues to hum with power] 

    Aaron : How about this one?

    Abe : This would be... twelve volts.

    [Aaron unplugs the second 12-volt battery and kicks it away from the device, which continues to hum with power. He shrugs] 

    Aaron : So what the hell is this thing?

    Abe : [skeptically]  It doesn't stay like that.

    Aaron : No, I mean, it winds down in a few minutes.

    [Then, immediately, with frustration fueled by knowledge that the device should not work:] 

    Aaron : What *does* that?

  • [Abe is showing Aaron what he has learned about the device's control over time, and Aaron is sweating, nervous. The clock shows 7 minutes past 2 a.m] 

    Abe : Did you notice those? When you were controlling the feeds, did you notice the parabolic? Hey, it's important. Parabolas are important. Here, look at this.

    Aaron : I don't know, Abe.

    Abe : Now, I'm gonna start it up and let it run for sixty seconds with, with nothing in it, okay, it's empty this time.

    Aaron : [watching the time]  That's twenty-two.

    Abe : In all the equations that describe motion and heat...

    [They start to cross-talk over each other] 

    Aaron : Now, just one minute, just a second...

    Abe : all the Feynman diagrams, what's the one variable that you can turn into negative and still get rational answers from?

    Aaron : That's one minute out here...

    Abe : It's not mass, it's not...

    Aaron : Twenty-two hours...

    Abe : It's about twenty-two hundred.

    Aaron : ...twenty-two minutes in the box.

    Abe : It's an odd, it's an odd number.

    Aaron : How many minutes is it? That's thirteen hundred, forty-seven minutes.

    Abe : Okay, yeah, thirteen forty-seven, you got that fast.

    Aaron : How - Why is it odd? How did you know it was odd?

    Abe : Because this is it, okay? This is what's going on...

  • Abe : Do you have anything important going on at work today?

    Aaron : I hope you're not implying that any day is unimportant at Cortex Semi.

  • Aaron : Do you feel like a steak?

    [Abe gives him a bemused look] 

    Aaron : To eat?

  • [Aaron and Abe are in the hotel room for the usual six hours, and are tossing a football back and forth] 

    Aaron : I don't know. What do you mean?

    Abe : Well, it's just a little embarassing. The storage room guy sees us come in together, but he never sees us leave.

    Aaron : Yeah, but what do you think the receptionist thinks about two guys that, uh, come and get a room for six hours every day?

    [a phone rings, and Abe immediately reaches for the motel room's phone] 

    Abe : [panicky]  Did you unplug this? - You brought your *cell phone*?

    [Aaron, though his face is blank, still manages to look embarrassed and horrified] 

    Aaron : Gonna check the caller ID.

    [Abe grips the football tightly] 

    Aaron : [trying to sound reassuring]  Yeah, we're not - we're not back.

    Abe : Yeah. Yeah, but you can't take it back with you, okay?

    Aaron : [answering the phone]  This is Aaron. Hey, babe. Um, yeah, I'm not there, I had to come downtown and hold some of these guys' hands. Tell me. Uh, sounds good. Um, no, I gotta eat with these off-site fags. Save mine, though, I'll have it later. Okay. Yeah. Um, yeah, at six.

  • [Night, outside Aaron's garage. Aaron is arguing that they should prevent Robert and Phillip from visiting while they work on the device] 

    Aaron : I don't know. I'll tell 'em something. I'll tell 'em we're spraying for bugs or something. It should just be a day or two, anyways.


    Aaron : I mean, unless you want to bring 'em in.

    Abe : No, it's just, I mean, they have their work in there, too.

    Aaron : [bitterly]  You know if Phillip finds out about that or even sees it, he's going to have to take it apart.

    Abe : No, I...

    Aaron : You know I'm just putting a love tweak on it.

    Abe : Yeah, I know. No, you're right.

    Aaron : Abe, it's my garage, okay? It's not like they're paying rent.

  • Abe : [standing next to his car]  I'm just saying, why would they put it in there if you didn't need it?

    Aaron : All right, one catalytic converter. It's fine. It's fine. Just remember to put it back, okay? Your emissions went up like 300 percent.

    Abe : [takes the catalytic converter and looks at it]  Is there enough in here?

    Aaron : Yeah, it should be. If not, we'll pull the one out of my truck.

  • Aaron : Aaron:


    Aaron : Two milligrams of oral triazolam every seven hours induces a safe sleep state and a minimal metabolic rate. At this continued state of rest, the human body breathes .3 litres of oxygen a minute, or roughly 2000 litres in four days. A Class E oxygen tank holds 625 litres. To maintain hydration, the body cycles through a minimum of two-and-a-half litres of water per day. Any food would be a luxury, but the small tank of medical-grade nitrous oxide would be needed on the other side.

  • Aaron : Look, I know that things are bad, okay? I know that you don't agree with what I've done, I know that you're upset and to be honest I'm not too happy with you either right now. But you know that this is gonna pass. So let's just go, let's get out there, let's go somewhere where we don't speak the language.

  • Aaron : [talking about being inside the device]  God, everything is so different in there. You feel how cut off you are, you know? It's this entirely separate world, and you encompass most of it. And the sound... Isn't the sound different, on the inside? It's, it's like it's singing. I guess you can't hear it on the outside. I had this dream in there.

    Abe : About what?

    Aaron : I was on, or near, the ocean and, uh, I just kept hearing the surf. It was so uneventful, at night, when the tide kept coming in and out.

    Abe : Yeah.

    Aaron : Yeah.

  • Aaron : That is no static shock.

  • Aaron : [to Abe, agitatedly]  It's not a matter of trust, it's just...

  • Aaron : What do they do?

    Abe : What do you mean?

    Aaron : What does it, what does this company do? Do they make things or...

    Abe : I don't know. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that the price goes up. You know, and the volume is so high that the number of shares we're trading is not going to affect the price.

    Aaron : You really don't know what they do?

    [No answer] 

    Aaron : That's why you were talking about a mid-cap fund, so the volume'd be high enough to hide us.

    Abe : Yeah, yeah. Do you think that's too cautious?

    Aaron : I don't know. I know there's a lot of stocks out there that do a lot more than double, but this is my first day.

See also

Release Dates | Official Sites | Company Credits | Filming & Production | Technical Specs

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