Timecrimes (2007) Explained

Timecrimes (2007) Explained

Timecrimes tells the story of Hector, an ordinary, married guy living in the Spanish countryside, whose lazy afternoon turns into a paradoxical nightmare after fleeing a masked murderer and stumbling upon a remote science laboratory in the woods at the back of his house. Seeking a place to hide, Hector accidentally travels one hour back in time and creates a time loop complete with two other versions of himself, which he then desperately tries to sort out in this low budget, high concept sci-fi thriller.

Three Hectors In One Timeline

In Timecrimes it’s important to realize that when Héctor1 is sent back an hour earlier that day he then becomes Héctor2, a duplicate, even though he doesn’t seem to accept this and reacts in horror when he sees his original Hector 1 self at home with his wife. After the second visit to the time travel chamber, Hector2 then becomes Hector3, and throughout the whole of Timecrimes there are always three Hectors in the time loop at the same time. Hector2 was always in the woods to force the woman to undress so that Hector 1 goes to investigate, while Hector3 was always around to run Hector2 off the road with a truck. This lead to Hector2 bandaging his face and entering the forest with the woman whom he then used to entice Hector 1 to investigate so he (H2) could eventually scare H1 into the time tank for the first time. Without all three Hectors there to reproduce this sequence of events, Hector 1 could not have initially entered the time machine in the first place to create the time paradox.

Sequence of Events

Héctor1 is lured into the woods, before being chased by a masked attacker and stumbling upon a secret time travel lab where a scientist then sends him an hour back into the past. Emerging from the time tank, Hector2 then finds himself caught in a time loop in which he becomes the masked attacker and attempts to reproduce events exactly as he witnessed in order to ensure Hector 1 makes the original time jump in the first place. The alternative to keeping the time paradox intact would mean creating an even more catastrophic paradox, or even his (H2) ceasing to exist as the single predetermined timeline would collapse altogether, as would his own existence. Unfortunately, Hector2’s actions also leads to tragedy after he later returns home still bandaged and accidentally scares what appears to be his wife into falling off the roof to her death.



Using the time machine once more, Hector3 now tries to save his wife by preventing Hector2 from scaring Hector1 into traveling back in time, even though it would result in his own personal existence being undone. Despite his efforts, Hector3 ultimately fails and seizing an opportunity remorsefully manages to save his wife by sacrificing an innocent woman in her place, a true timecrime. Nevertheless, there is a possibility the girl’s death may have been an inevitable, unavoidable event as we only get to see the movie from a point after the time loop was created. Before the loop was occurred, the woman may have been killed by an unknown attacker in the woods, who subsequently chased Hector towards the science lab, and into the time machine for the very first time. Therefore, her tragic death may have been an unavoidable consequence of a predestination paradox.

Free Will Within Limits Of Perception

Hector appears trapped inside a chain of events in which he believes he witnesses the murder of the girl before inadvertently becoming the murderer himself. The young woman has a picture of Schrödinger’s Cat on her shirt, which is a reference to the observer’s paradox first proposed by the Austrian scientist which states that an object or outcome of an event is not determined until being observed. A cat placed inside a box with a device which may or may not poison it is theoretically both dead and alive simultaneously until the box is opened and observed, forcing the object into just one of these possible states. As Timecrimes writer Nacho Vigalondo explains about his movie:

“The quantum mechanics aspect is the girl. We put an image of Schrödinger’s cat on the girl’s shirt – there’s a point in the movie where she’s dead and alive at the same time; it depends on what Hector sees, he defines whether she’s dead or alive. The theory of this film is that you only have free will within the limits of your perception. If you haven’t seen what happens inside a room, you can change what happens there, but if you have seen inside the room, you cannot change anything.”

How Was The Paradox Created?

In Timecrimes, Hector is caught in a casual time loop with no initial beginning or end, which is consistent with a predestination time paradox, but does beg the question how the paradox may have originated in the first place. One solution to the problem could involve a scenario in which an original attacker (not Hector) knew about the girl’s bicycle route and so lay in wait for her by the path to the woods, before assaulting and forcing her into the woods, where she is made to undress, then rendered unconscious.

Spying the girl from his garden, Hector subsequently becomes interested after she removes her shirt, and unaware of the rapist wanders towards her and blunders into the scene. On hearing Hector’s approach, the rapist then hides before attempting to stab Hector, but only succeeds in slashing his arm, instead. The attacker now chases a fleeing Hector to kill him, and a desperate Hector is given all the motivation he needs to scale a barbed wire fence, and break into the science compound. The attacker then leaves Hector briefly to return and dispose of the girl’s body, before going back for Hector.

On explaining his horrific story to the scientist and seeing the attacker approaching once more, the scientist may have tried to hide Hector in the time tank before later hiding somewhere else himself. Importantly, the scientist only activated the untested time machine less than two hours ago and so does not know if it works. He may have subsequently decided to risk Hector’s life by sending him back in time, knowing if the attacker does kill them the timeline will be restored to an hour earlier with the arrival of Hector2. As to what happens to the attacker in the movie, well one can speculate that Hector2 forcing the girl into the woods takes the opportunity away from the rapist who has now missed his chance and is frightened off by Hector2’s presence.

How Does Timecrimes End?

Hector3 attempts to prevent the bandaged Hector2 from getting into the time tank, in order to stop Hector2 accidentally killing his wife. At the end of the movie when Hector3 realizes that Hector2 didn’t accidentally kill his wife, but instead the young girl from earlier, Hector3 locks his wife in the shed and allows Hector2 to frighten the girl into falling to her death, knowing full well that Hector2 would then try to prevent his wife’s apparent accident by driving off in the rain to scare Hector 1 into the time tank before also traveling back in time to become Hector3 and “save” his wife. A self-sustaining stable timeline is thus created in which the two anomalies have now resolved themselves into a self-correcting loop, and history for Hector3 is allowed to continue, while nothing significant affecting Hector’s going back in time in the first place is altered.

Timecrimes (2007) ExplainedPlot In 4 Acts

Act 1: Héctor sees a young woman undressing in the woods, goes to investigate only to see her lying there dead, before being stabbed by a maniac with a bandaged face and finding safety in a science lab he stumbles upon. Héctor enters a time machine and is sent back an hour (now Héctor2) and is told by the scientist not to interfere with Hector1 so that there would be just the original Hector to deal with in the loop.

Act 2: Ignoring the scientist’s advice, Héctor2 appears worried his wife is now with “a different man” and so attempts to get home but is involved in a road accident and is forced to bandage his head. Realizing that the bandaged maniac was himself from earlier, and keen to avoid changing things as the scientist warned, Héctor2 acts to reproduce events according to his memories of how they unfolded in the past. After the car accident, Héctor2 forces the young woman who came to his assistance to enter into the forest with him, and undress to lure in Héctor1. Looking through his binoculars, Héctor2 is jealous of the caresses she is giving Héctor1, and so demands the girl removes more clothing to draw in Hector1. The girl runs away and appears dead after falling down a slope, Héctor2 places her body for Héctor1 to see, before scaring him into fleeing to the science lab. Hector2 then returns home only to witness his wife plummet to her death from the roof of their house.

Act 3: Héctor2 realizes he is responsible for much of what took place and so seeks to change events. Attempting to prevent his wife’s death from happening, Héctor2 drives to the lab and insists to be sent back again, only for the scientist to tell him that Héctor3 has already contacted him and said that his attempt failed and to stop Héctor2 from using the time tank again. Desperate, Héctor2 demands the scientist sends him back anyway.

Act 4: In this part, Héctor3 discovers that he can’t change events, and everything plays out according to his memories of things. Héctor3 then takes the scientist’s truck and rams Héctor2 to ensure he has puts on a bandage and goes after Héctor 1. Hector3 likewise is injured in the car accident, and coming upon the young girl fleeing from Hector2 convinces he, too, is trying to escape from the bandaged man. Later on they return to his house, and Hector3 locks his wife in a room, and gives the frightened woman his wife’s haircut and coat to look like the woman he saw fallen from the roof and assumed to be his dead wife. Trying to escape, she runs into a bandaged Héctor2 going up the stairs and running away falls from the roof and dies. Héctor 3 then stays with his wife, while Héctor2 drives away with the police now on their way. In this way, Hector3 manages to change the facts by altering his recollection of what he thought he saw, so as to save the life of his wife.

  • Greenhornet

    Crap.
    The “explanation” makes no sense because it fails to answer WHY the woman originally stripped in the woods and WHERE “Hector” came from.
    It would be better to say “Just repeat to yourself ‘it’s just a show, I should really just relax’.”.

  • Greenhornet

    You took down my post so I’ll have to ask again: where did Hector #1 come from? This movie makes as much sense as “Triangle” which had pretty much the same premise with no explanation for how it came about.
    And don’t say “suspension of disbelief”, the audience suspends disbelief when they buy a ticket; after that, the movie has to prove that it DESERVES that disbelief.
    Fiction has to make sense, even if it’s under the rules of it’s own fantasy world; other wise, it’s lazy or worse, BAD writing.

    • http://www.astronomytrek.com/ Pete

      A temporal loop requires no initial first cause as inside the loop both cause and effect precede and follow each other in an infinity circle. Now whilst this seems to violate the law of cause followed by effect, it is not really a paradox because as far as the time-traveler is concerned events in the past take place after the time-machine is activated, and the effect subsequently follows the cause. Therefore, the causality loop only appears as a paradox to an observer outside the inertial frame in space-time. That said, in this post I still tried to have a bit of fun postulating a theory as to how Hector 1 may may been created in the section titled ‘How Was The Paradox Created?’

    • Vincenzo

      Hello, I think I have a much better explaination.

      In fact, i think there’s no BAD writing in this movie, and the section titled ‘How Was The Paradox Created?’ is a wrong explaination of what happened.

      There’s no loop, i would say there’s not even a paradox.
      In this movie, the time travel follows this logic:
      There is NO free will, at all.
      There’s only 1 timeline, and it is impossible to change it, because whenever someone timetravels, he(she) is just doing something he(she)’s predestined to do.
      When Hector goes back for the first time he’s not changing anything, as in the beginning of the movie, we can see little hints of everything will happen later.
      Please let me know if you still find something that doesn’t make sense, as i can say i understood quite well this kind of timetravel.
      It’s exactly the same in many other movies, like 12 monkeys, Interstellar or Predestination.

    • Dylan

      Triangle had a start point if you looked deeper into it. The starting point was when she promised she would return to the taxi driver (Death i’m assuming) And upon breaking that promise death starts the loop again as soon as she takes off on the boat. But to start the whole thing, she died in a car accident and killed her son, and through guilt she was given another chance by death to reverse it, but until she knows that she has this power she cant reverse it (She will never know she has the key to end it all, making it an infinite loop) It even states in the description of the movie she has the key to end it all but she doesn’t know it. Anyway, this movie is a lot different, to this chain of events there had to have been a starting point but it doesn’t even explain it or give hint to how it all started which makes it hard to know, for all you know the first hector we follow in the movie could’ve been hector number 989273892639789 and it only focused on this individual hector for the movie.

      • Greg Abate

        There doesn’t have to be a “starting point”. This movie deals with time travel in a more accurate way (theoretically) than most time travel movies. Pete and Vincenzo explained above, but let me offer another explanation, lifted from Slaughterhouse Five. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but roughly: in the book, the time traveling aliens explain to the protagonist that time can be thought of as a mountain range on the horizon, with someone moving across it. Normally, we can only move from left to right across the mountain range (forward through time) at one speed. The mountain range (time) does not change as we move across it, and we can only go one direction and one speed. Since we are moving forward with the “normal” passage of time, we are constantly observing cause and effect and come to think that we have some control over the future. In reality, the future is already determined (in the form of the mountain range stretching ahead of us) and cannot be changed.

        With time travel, we can move any direction and speed across the range: right to left (into the past), travel faster left to right (into the future) or just skip to different peaks all over the range. The mountain range (time) STILL doesn’t change, but with time travel you are free to move around the mountain range as you please. The mountain range (time) doesn’t care how you move around it. It is just there, unchanging.

        In Timecrimes, Hector cannot change time. He has just been given the ability to move around time in a different way than is normal. So the events of the movie have always been and will always be, and no “starting point” is required. The idea of cause and effect is so ingrained in us that this explanation is hard to wrap out minds around, but it is theoretically sound.

  • andraii

    Thanks for this explanation!

    • http://www.astronomytrek.com/ Pete

      Thanks, andraii. Glad it helped!

  • Lahiru

    Hey the Hector’s wife meets Hector 3 at the end while Hector 2 driving off to time machine in the rain. Then Hector 2 will become Hector 3. Hector 3 will become Hector 4. So this process would be infinitive isn’t it. One Hector always have another Hector before and after him. So think about his wife. She has to met Hector 3. So what will happen to Hector 4 then? Such a mind blowing movie

    • nspur

      As far as we can see, Héctor 3 doesn’t go into the time machine, so there is no Héctor 4. Likewise, Héctor 1 did not come out of any time machine. So Héctor’s timeline starts like anyone else, loops around twice for about an hour, then continues forward like anyone else. (The only discrepancy after the loops is that he’s 2 hours older than he would be if he just went forward.)

  • Ziggy5150

    Bizarre movie.. Ok, so why did he have to Stab himself with the scissors ?. And that Nacho Dude (The Scientist ), lol. How do he know which Hector to Believe ?

    • Greg Abate

      Hector 2 stabbed Hector 1 so as to scare him into the time machine. Hector 2 is following the advice of the scientist to avoid changing anything. Hector 2 is thinking: “If I don’t stab myself, I won’t get into the time machine, and I won’t exist now as Hector 2.”

      The Scientist seems to have always believed Hector 3. In The Scientist’s perspective of linear time, Hector 3 is the first Hector he sees, so it kinda makes sense that he would listen to him. If The Scientist is really smart, he might also figure out that Hector 3 has to be the last Hector to go back in time. Hector 3 appears as soon as The Scientist turns on the time machine, so no other Hector can appear earlier than that. The goal of The Scientist is to close Hector’s loop so that no one knows he was using the time machine. Maybe he continues to trust Hector 3 because he knows that the loop has to end with him, because there is no Hector 4. If there was a Hector 4, he would have seen him already. See my post above about time as a mountain range to understand better how The Scientist could know this.

  • Cocofang

    I have but one question: Why would ANY rational human being behave the way Hector behaved?

    From the second he steps out of the time machine be becomes a raving lunatic. What the hell was going on in that head of his? Why would he think ANY of that stuff he did in the movie would be a good idea? Later when he wrapped his face with the bandage it should have dawned upon him “Wait a second … the crazy guy is ME! So if I just stop right here and don’t do any of the stuff I would so otherwise, everything will change!”. It makes no sense that he proceeds with the batshit crazy nonsense, other than because he “has to”.

    • Greg Abate

      Well, when he first travels back in time, he doesn’t believe it. That’s why he calls his house and then tries to go to his house. As he wraps his face in the bandage, he DOES realize that he was the crazy guy. He now accepts that he has travelled back in time, and decides he must scare Hector 1 into the time machine in order to avoid creating some kind of paradox with his current existence as Hector 2. Really though, he has no free will, as explained by Vincenzo and my post above.

      If anything is hard to believe plot-wise, it’s the way in which Hector so quickly grasps the complexities of his own loops and timeline. When he goes back the 2nd time and becomes Hector 3, he seems to have a very firm grasp of what’s going on. I’d be more confused, haha.