A Place Outside of TimeAugust 27th, 2018
In the photo to the left the actress Luana Anders is about to open the door and leave her ‘place outside of time.’ Unfortunately for her, the penalty for leaving is very high indeed. This is an Outer Limits episode entitled “The Guests” broadcast in March 1964. It is not one of the best episodes of Outer Limits, in fact it is one of the worst, but the concept of a place outside of time is wonderful, and of course watching the talented and beautiful Luana Anders is always a treat. The photo to the right is from Francis Ford Coppola’s first major film “Dementia 13” in which Luana had a major role. Sadly, she died in 1996, only 58 years old.
The concept of a place outside of time has enduring appeal. James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon is the classic example. In Hilton’s version of the place outside of time, Conway leaves Shangri-La only because he has to help someone else leave. But having left, Conway then spends the rest of his life trying to get back. I like the final line of the novel, where friends are wondering if Conway ever made it back to Shangri-La and one asks another: “Do think he will ever find it?”
A famous version of the ‘leaving paradise’ plot is, of course, Milton’s Paradise Lost. But don’t worry, I will not be discussing Milton’s poem here since I share Professor Jenning’s (of Animal House) view that it is way too long and often rather boring.
I think that, from time to time, all of us have dreamed of being in a place outside of time. Someplace where the pressures of the world can’t reach us. Where we can live with our loved one in perfect peace. And literature reflects this universality. Writers have used the concept with many variations. For example: sometimes one cannot leave, sometimes one must leave, sometimes one chooses never to leave, or sometimes one chooses to leave.
In the classic 1974 Lina Wertmüeller film Swept Away, one of the most memorable turning points occurs after Raffaella and Gennarino have grown to accept their isolation on the island and have come to love each other. One day a boat appears — they can be rescued! But they stop and think, do they want to be rescued? Do they really want to leave paradise and take up their former lives again?
In the last chapter of my reminiscence Black and Gold, I use a version of the place outside of time. The viewpoint character (me) has received his draft notice and elects to spend his last few days of freedom with his girlfriend, at her house, living for the moment. There, for a few days they are perfectly happy in their ‘place outside of time’. But at the same time they are sad, because they know it will end soon.