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This fall's twisty sci-fi movie Looper inspired a lot of people to dig through its logic and potential plot holes, but the movie itself cut off that kind of analysis at the pass, having Bruce Willis's character scoff at a suggestion to figure out how time travel works: " If we start talking about it we’ll be here all day, making diagrams with straws!”
But what IF you tried to figure out Looper by diagramming with straws? That's the ingenious idea behind a new infographic at Slate, from designer Michael Talley. If you saw Looper and can't figure out how all its timelines fit together and make sense, take a look at these straws, with some handy annotations to make the most sense out of it. You can also click over to Slate to see the larger, more legible version.
I like that the whole thing ends with a question mark, suggesting that even when you lay it all out as simply as possible, Looper is still pretty tricky to explain-- and whether or not that's by design or an error is up for you to decide. I think that's what's gotten so many people enthralled with the movie, though. It's not the kind of neat, all-loose-ends-tied-up time travel movie that leaves you feeling like you've complete a puzzle. It's complicated and weird and messy, much more like real life, and you have to imagine that if humans really did find a way to invent time travel it would work out much more like this than Back to the Future.
If you haven't seen Looper yet-- well, this whole infographic has probably spoiled the movie for you. But see it anyway! It's playing in almost 700 American theaters and is very worth your time.