Timeline is a 1999 novel by author Michael Crichton. It involves quantum physics effectively applied as time travel (though it is more complicated than that), set in the Hundred Years War.An old man has been found in the midst of the New Mexico desert, and is soon discovered to have strange deformities and to be an employee of a company named ITC. He is dead within a day of his discovery, and is quickly cremated by his closest associates. Meanwhile, a group of researchers in the Dordogne region of France, exploring a medieval archaeological dig, make an astounding discovery. ITC contacts them and reveals its greatest secret - tapping quantum technology to effectively travel through time...A film adaptation was released in 2003, starring Paul Walker, Gerard Butler, Frances O'Connor, Billy Connolly, Anna Friel, and David Thewlis among others.
This novel provides examples of:
Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe example; historical records paint Lord Oliver as a heroic character and Arnaut de Cervole as the villain, yet the differences are blurred when the characters meet them.
Awesome, but Impractical: Due to Doniger's marketing plan, which is using the time travel technology just to create historically-accurate historical restorations, instead of, you know, obtaining stock prices from the future.
In the book this was a lie, and he planned to steal future technology.
Ax-Crazy: Robert de Kere/Deckard. At first sight, a typical bloodthirsty medieval warrior, yet in fact a traveler gone mad due to transcription errors.
Justified: the reason the protagonists are sent to the past is that they are experts on exactly that time period.
Cloning Blues: How "time travel" works is by disintegrating a person in one universe and essentially making the target universe replicate that body down to the subatomic level - you're no longer you, the person in the "past" isn't you, and the person who come back isn't you, technically. Any error in the system will cause trauma to the body or head, which is why Robert de Kere is such a psychopath - he accumulated one too many errors, warping his brain.
Co-Dragons: De Kere and Sir Guy are this to Lord Oliver.
Cut Lex Luthor a Check / Reed Richards Is Useless: A lot of the technologies that had to be developed to make this time travel system work, like quantum computers that ran millions of calculations in parallel and down-to-the-atom body scanners, would have probably made more money than the actual plan ever could if they had just sold those.
Justified in that Doniger didn't care about the money, but rather the applications of the technology.
Disguised in Drag: Kate and no-one else because guards were looking for three foreigners; two males and one female. Guess what they did to fool them?
Lady Claire also cross-dresses around the countryside.
Dung Ages: Subverted and mocked. The protagonist walks around, expecting horribly disgusting conditions, but is surprised to learn everyone is reasonably well kept. In the afterward, Crichton notes this was mostly an invention of the Renaissance trying to make themselves look better-humans were no crueler or dumber than they are today.
For the Evulz: Robert de Kere. It's also stated that both French and English soldiers, when storming a castle, will massacre every civilian inside for kicks-and, as much as the team would like to save them all, stopping a massacre would have far-reaching consequences in the future.
Grandfather Paradox: When one of the travelers asks this exact question, Doninger explains that one person couldn't make the Mets beat the Yankees: i.e. a single person can't significantly change the course of history. But when the questioner presses the point, we get a Hand Wave.
Humans Are Bastards: The stark reality of medieval warfare is painted in full. One of the team plainly states that when castles finally fell after sieges, everyone inside was massacred, and talks of pregnant women being disemboweled (Truth in Television, unfortunately).
Parrot Exposition: While Robert Doniger is having his one-on-one rants with ITC's vice president Diane Kramer, Diane often repeats small snippets of Doniger's speech back to him. Diane does this because she knows Doniger is really only talking to himself, and Doniger hearing his own words helps him to sort out his thoughts whenever he and his company are facing problems.
Reality Is Unrealistic: A problem that ITC encounters when it tries to market the time travel technology. Who wants to witness the Gettysburg Address when all you're getting is watching an ugly man with an incredibly high-pitched voice speak quickly to a group of morose people in the rain? Who wants to see George Washington seasick and huddling with his men from a stormy, cold night during the famous crossing?
Sleep Learning: How ITC prepares its travelers to speak the proper dialects and such. It doesn't work too well, as in real life. Apart from picking up a few words and phrases while they're there, only André and the Professor can really communicate properly since they already knew the basics. Chris manages to scrape by with a bit of Latin.
Thrown Out the Airlock: Adapted, effectively, on Doniger. In the book, he is tossed into the time machine and sent back a year after the rest, when the Black Death arrives in Europe.
Too Dumb to Live: The book version of Chris is pretty stupid, mostly not listening to André regarding anything for the first half. After which they're separated and he becomes marginally more intelligent.
Time Is Dangerous: Travel is accomplished by copying the information required to rebuild a perfect copy (at the atomic level) of the traveler and beaming this information into the past. Errors in copying are possible (in fact, inevitable if the machine isn't properly shielded) leading to Clone Degeneration.
Universal Translator: The travelers use a hearing aid-like device so that they can understand Old English and French. It doesn't translate their speech, though-and they quickly begin picking up words by themselves.
Unreliable Expositor: The explanation for how time travel works (it's an alternate universe functionally identical to that time, not earlier in the same timeline) turns out to be simply wrong. It is, in fact, time travel-just... odd.
Justified in that the expositors in question, when pressed on several issues, admit that they don't really understand how the technology works...just that it does. This is not uncommon in quantum mechanics.
Would Hurt a Child: It's explained that knights and soldiers kill everyone when a castle falls-even if it means tearing babies out of their mothers' wombs.
The film features the following tropes:
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: There are no universal translators. The Medieval characters just speak modern English and French and the contemporary characters understand them just fine.
Somewhat justified because in the novel, the medieval people COULD understand the time travelers to some extent, though they had difficult understanding many of the modern grammatical rules they used (such as contractions).
Morton's Fork: Lord Oliver orders François to translate "I am a spy" from French into English to prove that he is an interpreter and not a spy. If he refuses or translates it wrongly, he'll be declared a spy and executed. If he complies... it'll be considered a confession and he will be executed. Which he is.
Thrown Out the Airlock: Doniger is thrown into the final battle using the time machine, where a knight instantly decapitates him.
Too Dumb to Live: Taking François back with them. Did no one understand that taking a Frenchman back in time to a period where the English and French were at war would be an incredibly bad idea? Sure enough, shortly after arriving, he is forced to translate the phrase "Je suis un espion" into English ("I am a Spy") and gets run through.