A Forgotten Bradbury Film

In “Bradbury and Butterflies”, Ray Haberski explains why A Sound of Thunder didn’t make much of a flutter at the box office.

A time travel movie that plays in the past, present and future is Sound of Thunder, a 2005 studio release starring Ben Kingsley, Edward Burns, and Catherine McCormack. The film did not do well. Reviews were, on balance, pretty awful. And it is safe to say that three leads are happy that they are remembered for other films. Yet, A Sound of Thunder had ambitions to do more and in a few specific ways it succeeded. First, it is based on the Ray Bradbury short story by the same name; second, it plays with the pulpiness of Bradbury’s story and the time in which it originally appeared, the early 1950s, with its kitchy cinematography, set design, and dialogue; and third, it riffs on the famous “butterfly effect.”

He also speculates about the film that might have been, and argues Bradbury deserves the credit given elsewhere for inventing a particular meme.

But here’s the ambitious part: the film wanted to animate and make accessible that catchy but often misunderstood principle of the “butterfly effect.”  A Sound of Thunder followed in its date of release a film actually called The Butterfly Effect that starred the misguided Ashton Kutcher and was also inspired by Bradbury’s story. The funny thing is, of course, Bradbury is not typically credited with coining the term, Edward Lorenz is.

9 thoughts on “A Forgotten Bradbury Film

  1. I don’t care what the critics say. Hokey, perhaps — but I’ve always loved this film (no doubt in great part because it’s based on Bradbury’s story), and I’ve seen it a half a dozen times.

  2. I didn’t care for this film — not that I would stop anyone from watching it. But it bothered me that the guns make little puny noises and not “A sound of thunder.”

  3. At the 1989 3rd International Animation Celebration in Los Angeles, Soviet animator Feodor Khitruk came leading an entourage of animators from each of the Soviet Union’s then-15 republics’ animation studios. Or as many of them that had animation studios; I don’t remember whether there was anyone from all 15 SSRs. But there was definitely Nazim Tulyakhodzayev from the Uzbek SSR, and he brought a 1984 10-minute adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s “And There Will Come Soft Rains…”

    It was very faithful, and was pretty dreadful. It was a VERY SLOW pan through the dead automatic house, with no motion (all the people are dead) and voiceovers of the automatic recordings as they go on. I love Bradbury’s story, but until I saw this animated cartoon, I never realized how boring it is dramatized.

  4. Kevin,
    The sound of thunder was the roar of the dinosaur, not the guns.

  5. John King Tarpinan: “The sound of thunder was the roar of the dinosaur, not the guns.”

    It’s been decades since I read the story, but according to the summary in Wikipedia, it is the sound of the gun which kills the man who has changed the future.

    However, in the movie (according to my interpretation), “the sound of thunder” is the thunderous noise of the time-changing ripples as they move forward in time, changing the future further each time another one passes.

  6. SciFiMike: “Was that Uzbec film this one?”

    Thanks for that! That was actually really cool!

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