I’ve been trying to find the title of a science fiction story I read more than fifty years ago when I was around fifteen. It’s about a unique time machine.

This is what I remember. The main character goes overseas (maybe somewhere in eastern Europe) on business. He has some time to kill, and goes into a small theater in a sleazy part of a town to see a period film. He’s amazed at the movie because it’s so real. Later he finds out that the film was shot by a movie camera which is a time machine. It goes back to a period when a historic event happened, and shoots the scenes.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. It sounds like this was a short story, but I don't want to tag it as one until you confirm that.
    – DavidW
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 0:13
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    There is "The Technicolor Time Machine" by Harry Harrison, which is about shooting a movie in the past, but I don't think that's it the one the OP is describing.. (It was filming Vikings sailing to Greenland?)
    – NJohnny
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 0:23
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    If someone posts the correct answer, you can accept it by clicking on the checkmark by the voting buttons as per the tour.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 13, 2021 at 1:22

1 Answer 1


The description nearly matches "E for Effort", by T. L. Sherred, first published in 1947 and often reprinted in anthologies. However, the action takes place in the United States. The inventor shows scenes live from his time viewer. The man who walks into the theater and is amazed by what he sees becomes the inventor's partner in filming the life of Alexander the Great (which involves hiring a lot of lip-readers, as the machine only captures video), the French Revolution, and finally the World Wars, among others. The political scheming revealed in the last movie causes such an uproar that the two are hunted down by the U.S. government. See Wikipedia for a more complete synopsis of the plot.


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