A lot of people want to read an overview of this book first. It is long, I know. Sorry. Maybe this page will help you to decide if you want to read the whole thing.
I was asked if I could sum everything up in one page. Here goes...
say that Abe invents time travel on March 1, 2001. What we
would perceive as his last action in the film, is actually his first. It is backwards because
this action is what Abe does in his last revisions. Abe and Aaron go
back as far as they each can. It won't go back far enough for Abe
because Aaron is still in control. Aaron exits the fail-safe and turns it off temporarily.
So Abe invents the box. Abe2
exits and breaks the box. He is a silent observer. He keeps a safety box
in a storage unit and plans to keep Abe1 from having a working box.Abe will learn, as in the end of the film, that Aaron3 is already
there.(A fail-safe that is coffin-sized is only useful for a few days at
a time) Why? When Abe2 steps out of the box and breaks it, Aaron from
the future (from 6 hours to four days) has already exited before him and
insured that he has the upper hand. So, Abe builds the box, Aaron3 exits, Aaron2 moves to France, building a box the size of a
house. Even though Aaron2 says he will never be found, there is always the opportunity for him to return(but not of course to this week as he is still building it during the events we see.). Aaron 2 returns and wrestles with himself. Thus he enters and exits, depending on your point of view. Truly
brilliant of Carruth here.
He is actually, as the book brought out,
Aaron2. He tells the Aaron2 that he is
Aaron3 or Aaron2's future. How much Aaron3 tells Aaron2 about time
travel is not stated.
Hopefully, you can see why there are so many people when Abe 'first'
discovers time travel in March.
What happens is that Abe2 will try to prevent Abe1's efforts but despite Abe2's
relentless efforts, Abe1 builds a successful box. From his perspective,
it is the first time. From Abe2's perspective, it is the second time.
Abe2 is angry when he finds out that the reason Abe1 didn't give up, the
reason Aaron slyly says 'You can't watch them forever', is that Aaron
knew what Abe says is correct. They would give up, unless Aaron2 gives
Abe1 a phone call before leaving for France. From his perspective, I
think he is insuring his survival.( It seems possible that if Abe does
not invent time travel again, then Aaron2may cease to exist. I wouldn't
want to find out, if I was Aaron. Better safe then sorry.) If Aaron2
was calling Aaron1(instead of Abe1) then he should just say, "Here's the
box and how to use it." It is much safer to create this relentless
Abe1. He won't give up because he knows he can do it. And since he
hasn't experienced it personally, he will not give up.
this Abe, when he does invent time travel (now for the second time from
our perspective) Aaron will still get the upper hand by taking a box and
exiting and knocking himself out. Later, when Aaron3 arrives at this
same point, he confronts Aaron2 and convinces him to leave, taking his
place.Obviously, Aaron3 has lived these events, recorded them and gone
back a day or two, so that he has the recordings, or he is lying and will record them once he replaces Aaron(2). This Aaron2 leaves or
exits, leaving Aaron3 in charge to make the final revision that
everyone else will remember. Thus, (thinking backwards) the airport
scene of Abe and Aaron arguing, can take place as early as Monday, while
our brains from watching the film, makes us think that this event is
later in the week.
So which box did Aaron2 find? He found not
Abe1's box, but Abe2's box. This is why Abe1 is confounded when shown the
storage manifest. He didn't build that box or even know that it
existed. Abe2 knows how important a fail-safe is. He just didn't realize
how much it would complicate matters, especially from our viewpoint.
But, this is the end. How did they arrive at the conclusion of the film? "How?", you would ask. Let me start from the top.
Original book follows: