Time Changer Book Review

Time Changer book review - Indy Christian ReviewA few weeks ago, I was surprised to discover a 2001 novelization of Rich Christiano’s Time Changer at my local bookstore.  I had no idea that such a thing existed and was very intrigued.

From the foreword by Rich Christiano:

As the ninety-minute version of the screenplay [to Time Changer] started to come together, I started talking with another company about doing a co-production and they wanted to see the script. I knew then that I would have to send them a professional looking script. Along this same time, I was introduced to Greg Mitchell, a twenty-year-old aspiring Christian writer and filmmaker. I read several of Greg’s scripts and noted that they were extremely well written. I asked him if he would be interested in re-typing the Time Changer script so we could submit it. I also asked Greg to take the time to describe the characters and set the scenes in their proper detail.

When Greg gave back to me the correctly formatted screenplay, the descriptions he added were so good that it gave me the idea to do the novel, which, in turn, I thought would be good promotion for the feature film… Greg took my screenplay and gave it the window dressing it needed to work as a novel. He wrote the draft using my story and dialogue and then I edited the revisions.

I was unaware of this bit of behind the scenes history of one of my favorite Christian movies (guess I’ll have to turn in my Christiano Fan Club membership card. :P). Well, I’ve finally managed to make the time to finish reading it, and I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Time Changer movie posterAs an adaptation, you can definitely tell this was based on an earlier draft of the script than what was used for the movie. Several memorable scenes are missing, and the librarian played by Jennifer O’Neill, Michelle Baines, is a man in the book named Mitchell!

Most of the “new” scenes work pretty well, though I did notice that the portrayal of the 1890’s as a Christian utopia is a lot stronger in the book’s narrative than how it’s portrayed in the film. That aspect alone made the movie much stronger than the book to me. The beyond-rosy view of the days of yore came across with almost ridiculous idealizing and nostalgia. After all, one has to only read books like In His Steps by Charles Sheldon (1897) and other books from the time to know that the 1890’s were anything but the God-fearing paradise that’s portrayed in this book.

One aspect that also changed from book to screen is the final fate of the laundromat propietor Eddie Martinez. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet, but the book’s version is the exact opposite of the film’s. I did not feel the original version was as strong of a moment, and was glad the movie went the route it did.

However, I was glad for details the book included that I felt the movie lacked. For example, the motivation of Rex and Tom, the modern-day men who distrust Carlisle and start trying to figure him out, is much more fleshed out and made a lot more logical sense. The movie would have benefitted from that extra bit of insight into their characters.

All in all, Time Changer was a short, enjoyable read, and I’d recommend it to any fans of the film who might be curious to see an earlier version of the story.

Click here to watch my review of Time Changer the movie.

Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.