Primer (film)

2004 film directed by Shane Carruth

Primer is a 2004 film about four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs who, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention, which appears to be able to distort time.

Written and directed by Shane Carruth.
If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything? taglines


  • You're talking about making a bigger one.
  • Are you hungry? I haven't eaten since later this afternoon.
  • I am trying, okay, I really am here.
  • What's worse, thinking you're being paranoid or knowing you should be?
  • That is no static shock.
  • [narrating] Meticulous, yes. Methodical. Educated. They were these things. Nothing extreme. Like anyone, they varied. There were days of mistakes and laziness and infighting. And there were days, good days, when by anyone's judgment, they would have to be considered clever. No one would say that what they were doing was complicated. It wouldn't even be considered new. Except maybe in the geological sense. They took from their surroundings what was needed, and made of it something more.
  • How many times would it take before he got it right? Three? Four? Twenty? I've decided to believe that only one more would have done it. I can almost sleep at night, if there's only one more. Slowly and methodically, he reverse-engineered a perfect moment. He took from his surroundings what was needed, and made of it something more. And once the details had been successfully navigated, there was nothing left to do but wait for the conflict. Maybe the obligatory, last minute moral debate until the noise of the room escalates into panic and background screams, as the gunman walks in. And eventually, he must have got it perfect, and it must have been beautiful with all the praise and adoration he had coming. He had probably saved lives, after all. Who knows what would have happened if he hadn't been there?


  • You know what they do with engineers when they turn 40? They take them out and shoot them.


  • Aaron, I can imagine no way in which this thing could be considered anywhere remotely close to safe. All I know is I spent six hours in there and I'm still alive... You still want to do it?
  • [His first experience in the machine] Maybe it was the dramamine kicking in, but I remember this moment in the dark with the reverberation of the machine. It was maybe the most content I've ever been.
  • And I don't think there's ever been any reason to show you what I'm capable of...but I'm telling you this now. Go out there and do whatever it is you want. There's no way in the world I can stop you, but don't come back here. And don't come near them. Any of them.


Kara: Did you call pest control?
Aaron: Babe, I'm telling you, they're birds. You don't want a bunch of dead baby birds up there. Do you?
Kara: They don't sound like birds.
Aaron: [to Abe] She thinks there are rats in the attic.

Abe: I just want you to see it the way I saw it.
Aaron: I am trying, okay, I really am here.
Abe: Look, everything we're putting into that box becomes ungrounded, and I don't mean grounded like to the earth, I mean, not tethered. I mean, we're blocking whatever keeps it moving forward and so they flip-flop. Inside the box it's like a street - both ends are cul-de-sacs. I mean, this isn't frame dragging or wormhole magic, this is basic mechanics and heat 101.
Aaron: This is not mechanics and heat.

Abe: [Notices Aaron's ear is bleeding] Whoa. You're bleeding.
[Takes handkerchief and places in on his ear]
Aaron: I got it.
[Holds it to his ear]
Aaron: Is this normal? This isn't normal.
Abe: For the machine?
Aaron: [Irritated] No, for people! What you think, it's the machine?
[Abe looks as if to help]
Aaron: All right, I got it!

Abe: Do you have anything important going on at work today?
Aaron: I hope you're not implying that any day is unimportant at Cortex Semi.

Aaron: Do you feel like a steak?
[Abe gives him a bemused look]
Aaron: To eat?

Aaron: So...does it hurt?
Abe: Yeah. Yeah it does a little.


  • If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything?
  • What happens if it actually works?


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