It’s impossible to run out of stories to tell in cinema, given to humanity’s wide-ranging experiences. Science and technological advances can sometimes serve as inspiration for a film. There are several recurring themes, including the Butterfly Effect Theory.
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“The butterfly effect” is an analogy for minor causes that have big impacts. It’s a central tenet of chaos theory, and meteorologist Edward Lorenz first found it in the early 1960s.
In Lorenz’s mind, the weather and the ability to anticipate it were the pinnacles of human achievement. To cut down on processing time, one day when trying to pass his data through a (very slow) computer, he opted to round the numbers up.
He had no idea what would happen next; the slightest adjustment in the beginning conditions led in massive disparities in the ultimate outcome; he imagined it would be a little change in the result.
Further research and trials revealed that even two years later, the flutter of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil may trigger a tornado in Texas. Butterfly effect theory has practical and philosophical issues, but does not address them because it is difficult to predict certain events because of human limits.
As a result, we’ll never know for sure if a tornado in Texas two years ago was caused by a butterfly 5000 miles away flapping its wings. For now, the only thing we can say is that under these specific conditions, it is possible for a butterfly to trigger a tornado.
The 2004 film The Butterfly Effect is primarily to blame for popularizing this scientific concept as a catchphrase in popular culture. This list, however, does not include the film.
The film, which stars Ashton Kutcher, fails miserably to convey the butterfly effect hypothesis. To avoid the problem of relying on ambiguity and uncertainty, it instead solves it by taking into account the probabilities.
Cinematically, the butterfly effect has been depicted via parallel realities that were created as a result of one occurrence. On this list, about half of the films are structured in this fashion, and Kieslowski’s Blind Chance is the source of the inspiration.
Blind Chance (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1981/1987)
It would be an understatement to suggest that Krzysztof Kieslowski was a superb director. To this day, he is one of the best filmmakers in the history of the medium. His characters are real, forceful, and honest, and his vision is based on discovery rather than telling the viewer what’s going on.
As an example, consider Witek (Boguslaw Linda). In the film Blind Chance, he plays a college student who chooses to visit Warsaw on the spur of the moment. What will happen if I run after the train? Three different versions of this story are shown to us, each one demonstrating the profound impact an apparently little event had on Witek’s life.
A man buying a beer is the driving force behind this incident, which the protagonist is completely unaware of. When it comes to the trajectory of the butterfly in this Polish tale, he’s the one in charge. There is another scene in the film that supports the butterfly effect theory: Witek rejects destiny and accepts chance as the primary factor in whether or not to join the train.
The film’s central issue is actually Polish society during communism, and it covers topics like religion and politics from all sides of the spectrum – party sympathizers, dissidents and apolitical participants.
It was published in 1987. One of the film’s main themes is censorship in communist Poland, which led to the film’s six-year delay in its release in Poland. Inception-worthy plot: censorship within censorship.
We’re glad to say that the movie was eventually released, and we can now see it. When Peter Howitt saw it, he resolved to make his own alternate-history film. Tom Twyker, on the other hand, did exactly the same thing. Sliding Doors to Run Lola Run served as a major inspiration for half of the games on this list after that.
Sliding Doors (Peter Howit, 1998)
Sliding Doors, a romantic comedy directed by Peter Howitt (who later directed Laws of Attraction and Johnny English), was a big hit with the rom-com audience. Instead than delving into deep philosophical issues, the film takes a lighthearted tone that will appeal to a wide range of viewers, drawing inspiration from Kieslowski’s Blind Chance.
A bad start to the day for Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow). She just was let off from her work and is on her way back to her parents’ house to recover. We don’t see her face, but she’s the “butterfly” in the story who determines whether or not she makes it to the London Underground.
Both her work and love life depend on this single predicament, which our heroine is oblivious of. We see her miss the train and then catch it, and we see her life fall apart in both directions at the same time.
Gwyneth Paltrow (Oscar winner, Iron Man salt and Pepper) is the star of the play, and she does an excellent job of portraying her character’s numerous layers and depths. On the opposite end of the spectrum are James (John Hannah), a lovable charmer, and Gerry (John Lynch), a depraved brute.
Alternate-life movies began to take off after this film’s UK release in 1998. Three of them, coincidentally, made their directorial debuts. In light of the fact that these flicks are all about the butterfly effect, it’s ironic.
Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998)
Since its premiere, this German cult classic has become one of cinema’s most talked about films. The film’s director, writer, and composer all hail from Tom Tykwer (together with Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil).
Run Lola Run is one of those stories when the soundtrack plays such a significant role, it becomes a character of its own.. Rave lunacy permeates every aspect of the film: the costumes and red hair of the lead actor, the camerawork, the editing, and even the setting. Despite its hectic pace, it manages to calm down just enough to allow the audience a chance to get to know the characters.
“Every second of every day you make a choice that can change your life,” reads the tagline of the film. Throughout the film, we see the alternative futures of numerous supporting characters, all of which are influenced exclusively by Lola’s real death and are solely based on her actions and experiences. This lends credence to the butterfly effect theory. Similarly, Lola’s success is largely dependent on forces outside of her control.
He made a big mistake, and now Lola has 20 minutes to earn the 100,000 Deutschmarks she needs to save him from ruin. So begins Lola’s frantic tour of Berlin’s streets.
Following a brief pause, the film resumes and Lola attempts again. At this point, Run Lola Run begins to resemble a game of Groundhog Day, with Lola applying everything she’s learned from the previous restart to her current mission.
In the ’90s, Lola and Manni were one of the most memorable couples in film. Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu have an incredible chemistry, and the casting staff should be thanked.
This thought-provoking crime drama is a Tykwer classic, even more chaotic than his last picture, Winter Sleepers, in its use of parallel realities. This is a film that should not be missed since it is hot, swift, and intellectual at the same time.
Me Myself I (Pip Karmel, 1999)
Lonely Pamela Drury ponders on her birthday whether or not she would be happier if she had married Robert Dickson.
Pamela Dickson fantasizes about what would have happened if she had rejected Robert’s marriage proposal.
Then, due to a freak accident, our lonely Pamela is thrust into the happily ever after she had only ever dreamed of: marriage to Robert Dickson (and mother of three children). A rollercoaster of emotions and personal disclosures occurs, affecting not only Pamela but the entire cast.
My Own Person Pip Karmel wrote and directed me. Rachel Griffiths’ portrayal of Pamela in her 1999 Australian comedy is spot on, and she balances the double part brilliantly.
Despite the similarities to Sliding Doors, Me Myself I develops its own world by adopting a parallel universe concept to depict the what-ifs the film offers. The story explores the effects that both large and little events can have on our lives by examining a number of different “what if” scenarios.
Happenstance (Laurent Fiorde, 2000)
Laurent Fiorde’s debut feature-length film, Happenstance, also known as The Beating of the Butterfly’s Wings, stars Audrey Tatou and ra singer Faudel. The 2000 romantic comedy-drama is an homage to the butterfly effect theory, as implied by its title.
It’s a single day in Paris, and several character arcs influence each other (mostly) without the audience being aware of it.
At the center of this French film is a horoscope reading that takes place in the early morning. Characters benefit greatly from the random encounters they have with trivial objects like lottery tickets, pebbles, and grains.
Happenstance is a charming and amusing story, but it lacks a clear narrative. Some of the characters in the film aren’t even intriguing enough to make you root for or even detest them, so it’s hard to feel invested in their stories. You’d better give up hope of seeing another Amélie because Audrey Tatou’s character, Irène, is no exception.
An iconic movie about the butterfly effect, Happenstance focuses on the wonder of everyday chaos and how seemingly random events may have a domino impact.