By Scott Rittenhouse
“In Time” (Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried) is a clever dystopian movie about a hypothetical future where time has become the currency of society and people literally have to work or steal to live. They have life clocks implanted in their forearm to store and spend time they have “earned” and measure how much time they have left before they drop dead in mid stride.
The head of the Central Bank describes the social order as “Many must die so that a few may live forever.” Usury has permitted the elites to be immortal (he keeps his first million years of life in a vault) by charging 30% interest! This means that the elites live in luxury, partying and gambling every night, while workers struggle to earn enough time to sleep occasionally and keep their parents alive. There is no expectation of breaks, illnesses or vacations.
Enforcing the system are “time-keepers” (a kind of cop) who patrol a system of metropolitan time zones (neighborhoods grouped by social class) which measure the flow of wealth (accumulated time) for signs of illegal gain, because if people got too much they would stop working. Thieves, prostitutes and gamblers prey on their own class (the poor and workers) to survive. The banks also own the stores, so they artificially increase prices, using inflation as a form of population control. The rich elites live in their own exclusive zones where people have the most freedom.
The movie plot is instigated when the protagonist is given over 100 years of time from an immortal who has become tired of living, making him a target for bankers, cops, and criminals; and allowing him to experience life not lived in fear. It is good food for thought about how others use our time and the meaning of leisure.