David BruceA stellar phenomenon enables a police officer to communicate back to 1969 with his dead father. And it communicates to us the importance of today, family, and loving relationships, while it teases us with the concept of 'what-if.'
-Review by David Bruce


This page was created on Friday, December 03, 1999
and was last updated on May 23, 2005

Directed by Gregory Hoblit
Written by Toby Emmerich

Dennis Quaid .... Frank Sullivan
James Caviezel .... John Sullivan
Elizabeth Mitchell .... Julia Sullivan
André Braugher .... Satch DeLeon
Shawn Doyle .... Jack Shepard
Noah Emmerich .... Gordo Hersch
Jordan Bridges .... Graham Gibson
Melissa Errico .... Samantha Thomas
Daniel Henson .... Johnny Sullivan (6 years)
Frank McAnulty .... Desk Sergeant

Produced by Bill Carraro, Janis Rothbard Chaskin (co-executive), Toby Emmerich, Patricia Graf (associate), Gregory Hoblit, Howard W. Koch Jr., Richard Saperstein (executive), Robert Shaye (executive)
Original music by Michael Kamen
Cinematography by Alar Kivilo
Film Editing by David Rosenbloom

What if you could reach back in time?
What if you could change the past?
What if it changed everything?

What if you had the chance to travel back in time and change just one event in your life? What would it be?

For John Sullivan (Jim Caviezel), there is no question. He would undo the events of October 12, 1969, when the out-of-control Bruxton fire took the life of his father, a heroic firefighter. Ever since he was a kid, John has dreamed of being able to stop the tragedy of that fateful day, which set into motion the anger and loneliness that have haunted his adult life as a cop in the 1990s.

Now John may get exactly what he wished for . . . and much more than he bargained for. In the mind-bending thriller Frequency, director Gregory Hoblit (Primal Fear) presents a fresh and original take on time travel with the gripping human story of a father and a son who reach out to one another across parallel universes to stop a terrible crime.

Science fiction, mystery and a poignant story of family connection blend together in a tale about the entwining of past, present and future. One day before the anniversary of his father´s death, in the midst of the spectacular sky storm known as the aurora borealis, John Sullivan discovers in the house he inherited his father´s old ham radio and begins to play with it. Through the electrical static, he finds himself talking to a man who claims to be a firefighter and who appears to be awaiting the World Series of 1969.

Is John really talking to his own living father on the very same day, in the very same house, but exactly three decades ago? At first neither can believe it, but soon John is carrying on an all-night conversation with his young father (Dennis Quaid), sharing for the first time his deep love and regret over his future death. Yet John realizes that now he might be able to change all that. By alerting Frank to the mistake that cost him his life the first time around, John saves his youthful father from dying in the Bruxton fire.

On October 12, 1999, John Sullivan discovers that he now has photographs on his walls of his father as a gray-haired man. By changing the past, the Sullivans have forged a new present. John is ecstatic with his new memories of his father - until he discovers other things have been altered. Subtle changes caused by his father´s survival have led to a string of unsolved serial homicides, including the grisly murder of John´s mother. Now, Frank and John must race against the clock - divided by three decades and connected only by a radio - to prevent a murder that will seal their destinies. And each time Frank changes something in his universe, John wakes up to a whole new reality. Based on the new science of multiverses, Frequency is about a father and son who just need time to set things right.

The premise of the movie.
For as long as humans have dreamed of raveling through time, people have warned of the time travel paradox - also known as the Grandfather Paradox. The problem is this: suppose you traveled back in time and killed your own grandfather, then you would no longer exist and could never have gone back in time to murder your grandfather. Basic laws of causality have been violated. Fortunately, this paradox can be avoided under the rules of parallel universes. In a multiverse scenario if you travel back in time and kill your own grandfather, a new reality will branch off creating a universe in which you don´t exist. It´s complex stuff - especially in Frequency because in Toby Emmerich´s scenario a rip in the fabric of spacetime has allowed a parallel universe to intersect with John Sullivan´s own. John never actually travels back in time - he only communicates to another time dimension, one that is now inextricably linked to his own. This means that every molecule, person or event that is altered in the past instantly changes John Sullivan´s present reality. If a desk in Frank´s 1969 is scratched, John´s 1999 desk is now scratched. If a wallet is buried in Frank´s 1969, it remains buried in John´s 1999. If Frank remains alive in 1969, John has new memories of his father from his teen years. And if Frank´s death in 1969 precipitates an unsolved slew of serial killings, that killer can still come after John 30 years later . . .

Web Master

In the film, John's father dies in a fire. Years later, as an adult, John has the opportunity to save his father by going back in time.

Films often reflect to some degree the life experiences of the writer, director and others involved. As director Gregory Hoblit began reading Frequency, his imagination immediately lit up and he began experiencing deeply personal questions about how he might change his own past if he could. "The story kept making me think about 'what-ifs,'" notes Hoblit, whose own father passed away just a few years ago. "I wondered what if I had a second chance to cover more ground with my father? What if I could talk to him again, what would I say? What if he were here, how many more times would I tell him I love him?"

Hoblit came to see Frequency's lead character John Sullivan as a kind of Alice in Wonderland, a man who has dropped through the looking glass into a world in which the past is as malleable as the future. Although Hoblit had seen this theme in science-fiction before, here it had a new twist to it -- the intense emotions associated with a deceased parent. "I was fortunate to have covered a lot of ground with my father before he died," says Hoblit, "but I don't think anyone is ever really prepared for losing a parent. The what-ifs are enormous, especially for a six year-old child like John Sullivan. They haunt him his whole life."

I believe this film will connect with many people for similar reasons. Family break up is a big part of our culture. In the film, death breaks the family apart. For others, it may be for reasons of divorce, abuse, emotional trauma. Children of such family break-ups often struggle with 'what-ifs.' What if they could go back in time and fix the past so that the painful present could not happen?

There is in most of us a strong desire, at times, to go back and save a parent from death, or divorce, or a crime, or drugs, etc..

Or, even to undo personal mistakes. "If only I could go back in time, I would not make that mistake again."

The relationship between John's mother and father is a joy to watch. It's magical and beautiful. I really enjoyed the satisfaction in the face of John as a little boy watching his parents love each other. Every child should be as fortunate. Additionally there is a happy relationship between John and his dad. The film makes a powerfully and attractive statement about the importance of human relationships within loving commitments.

Unfortunately the present is all we have. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow isn't promised. Live for today. As Jesus once said, "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Matthew 6:34 NLT). In terms of living in the past, Jesus had strong words, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

I hope the film serves to remind us of the fact the today's actions can bring long term consequences. My decision today to do a right thing can and does impact my tomorrows in a positive way. As St. Paul once wrote: "...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).


Does the hereafter exist in a parallel universe?

Does eternity exist outside of time as we know it?

Is God limited by time and space?

The movie opens up all kinds of fun and provocative questions:
Does prayer or meditation connect us with timelessness?
Does prayer connect us to the past and future?
Can we change the future through prayer?

Both films open the same way, in outer space, where we hear human voices on radio waves traveling deep into space. Both films are about a quest for a father, and the reestablishment of family. Both films explore the concept of life beyond this life. And significantly, both films probe the possibility of reunion with those who have passed on.

Looking for a good time? I recommend this film to you.

1895 British author H.G. Wells publishes The Time Machine.
1905 Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity put forth. The theory reveals that space and time are relative, not absolute, and that time is actually a fourth dimension within what he calls "space-time."
1916 Albert Einstein discovers that space-time is curved.
1937 Mathematician Kurt Goedel proposes that the universe itself may be a time machine.
1949 Goedel demonstrates that pathways through time are mathematically possible.
1967 U.S. physicist John Wheeler applies the name "black holes" to describe super-dense singularities in space and time.
1974 Astrophysicist Frank Tipler plots paths around a vast, imaginary spinning cylinder, confirming that paths through time can exist.
1985 The popular time-travel fantasy Back to the Future is released.
1988 Caltech University's Kip Thorne theorizes that wormholes might be used as a means of time travel.
1991 Princeton University´s Richard Gott proves that cosmic strings could be used for time travel.

Bulletin Board:

Subject: Frequency is a great movie about the importance of life
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000
From: D M Draco

I expected the movie to be a great Science Fiction masterpiece, but was pleasantly surprised that this was not only a great story based on Sci Fi elements, a story on the importance of life, a story of how one person can change several other's lives, without even knowing it. It showed that each life is important. For example, John helped his father avoid the fire incident, and prolonged his life. Therefore, he unknowingly had created a better life for himself (A life with a loving father), Then when John was told that his father died from the effects of smoking, he warned his father that smoking would kill him. (Ironically, I do not recall seeing John smoke after that moment) John no longer smoked (probably a changed circumstance) which saved his own life, and 2, since his father stopped smoking he was around to save John's life at the end. I have always been interested in Science Fiction stories of Time travel, and this is one of the best stories that I've seen. Not so much because of the sci fi aspect, but because each story of this type has a hidden message about the importance each life has on the others around it.

Subject: Wonderful!
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000
From: The Butson Family

My husband and I took an afternoon to see this film and walked out so pleased. I haven't found anything more "pro-family" in the media in a long, long time. Yes, a traditional, stable family and its benefits are clearly shown; solid friendships that last for years, and risking one's life to save another. Great, high ideals here. . .and portrayed so well. Asking all the "what ifs" can get scary and "Frequency" underscores that sense of consequence in reworking the past. It caused me to thank God for His sovereignty and wisdom in all the circumstances of life. It's also a good object lesson for younger viewers: every decision one makes has its effect in the future, so be wise in the choices you make. A terrific way to engage folks in some interesting discussion, to say the least. This one's a winner!

Subject: Frequency and True Family Values
Date: Mon, 08 May 2000
From: Bruce Simon Richmond, VA

Before seeing "Frequency" I expected a tale of time travel, suspense and the possibility of a reconnection; yet it touched my heart in a very deep and personal way. As I was watching the film, it conveyed the message that if the past could be altered in some way, the future might be healed and redeemed. In a society where the family is maligned, torn apart, or is the butt of "the dysfunction of the month", " Frequency" will offer the viewer hope that the American family can exemplify solidarity and commitment in a society where an opposite message can be sent. By contacting each other across time through a freakish phenomenon, John and Frank Sullivan discover a rich love which enables them to potentially alter a former destiny and face new problems in a fresh one. "Frequency" gives the theater goer a fresh insight into a family which is determined to preserve its identity through sacrifice and perseverance, a lesson which too often is ignored and overlooked. I would highly recommend this movie, not only for the sci-fi and mystery elements, but for the noble virtues it exemplifies.
Bruce Simon Richmond, VA

Subject: Terrific movie
Date: Mon, 8 May 2000
From: Kariannjoy

Frequency is a terrific movie that tugs on your heart strings. I love the father/son relationship and the concept of communication. A true reminder to all of us--here and now. I would have liked the relationship between John and his wife developed more, but the intensity of the film holds up well. The beginning scenes leave you wondering, "Is Frank going to get killed now?" Yes, it is a date-movie; yes, it is a family movie. Have a hankie ready, just in case!

Subject: Wonderful.
Date: Tue, 2 May 2000
From: "Mike Furches"
To: What a truly wonderful movie.

While there are no overt references to Christianity the movie does deal with several key areas related to the family. How rewarding it is to see a movie where the family is portrayed in a wonderful, loving way. While the characters are all wonderfully human, faults and strengths together, the overlying theme is love, not just for each other but for all innocent victims and friends in the movie.

Frequency contains characteristics from Contact as well as A Wonderful Life. What would one's life be like if attributes where changed, and would you change them if you could.

While the sub plot is a little thin it does not take away from the relationship between father and son and actually adds some thrilling moments. While the movie does not pull the same heart strings of father and son that Field of Dreams does, it doesn't come far from it. This relationship is one that any father and son who have been separated from each other will be drawn to. It will hopefully also help fathers and sons that are still together to realize the need to spend more quality time together. Frequency has other characteristics that is nice to see portrayed in Hollywood. The positive portrayal of both policemen and firemen is one that is overdue and needed. These are men that make tremendous sacrifices on a daily basis to serve people they don't even know. Frequency shows the sacrifices some of these men make in the giving of themselves even until the point of taking away from their families. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would give Frequency a healthy 7. A movie well worth seeing and one that Hollywood does not make with enough Frequency.
Mike Furches Tulsa, OK

Date: Tue, 2 May 2000
From: Kris Childress

I thought the movie *Frequency* was very interesting and powerful - regardless of the ultimate plausibility of the film. A few interesting points: - Unlike most time travel movies, this one dealt with only the possibilities and possible results of sending *information/communication* into the past. This also minimized many otherwise unavoidable paradoxes. - While a general happy ending seemed inevitable, the film allowed a series of tragedies to be explored in the process - a rare accomplishment. - While heavy on concept, the execution was decidedly low tech without a raft of glitzy special effects. The film depended on the skills of the actors themselves - refreshing. Technically, the only real disappointments I had were the fact that the son seemed overwhelmed when the ham radio was broken in the past-present (not realizing that it ultimately had to be fixed or he could never have communicated with his father in the first place to set the events in motion that would damage the radio.) This was the paradox of the parallel time frames the movie used - the present realities exactly 30 years out of phase with the past. I was also a bit disappointed in how poorly the aged the father and mother - I think that Bicentennial man - for all its limits - did a better job. Finally, the "big picture" - this film shows - a bit like *Being John Malkovich* - why God is God and we're not. Despite efforts to right the "wrongs" of the past, the changes wrought often had unexpected downsides. I think of this when I pray and then don't easily accept an other-than-positive response from God. This reminds me that I don't grasp all the outcomes of granted wishes. In this sense, it has echoes of the much darker short story "The Monkey's Paw" and of Ursula K. Leguin's short novella *The Lathe of Heaven.*

Frequency © 2000 New Line Cinema. All Rights Reserved.