Chapter III: "I Give You Time, to Steal My Mind"
Part III, Chapter III: "I Give You Time, to Steal My Mind"
“Time was always an album that didn’t fit in with the rest of our material. But it was one of our most successful, looking back. Both the original album and the film led to my meeting Guy and Tom later that year, and I know that a lot of artists have admitted to it influencing them. But as for the meaning of the story, I’d tell you if it was real or a dream if I knew, but I don’t.”- Jeff Lynne on the impact of the Time album and film.
Eldorado, while not a huge financial success, was a critical one. It had, among other things, proved the commercial viability of the musical genre at a time when it was thought that the only way to do so was to make an animated film. Indeed, the surreal aspects of Eldorado led to it becoming a cult classic down the line, and only further cemented director Terry Gilliam’s status as “the man to do surreal with”.
Jeff Lynne was not done with musicals, however. Eldorado was one of only two full concept albums that ELO had made during their sixteen year run. Time, an album set in the far off year of 2095, followed a man transported from 1981 as he dealt with the strange world, that is equal parts familiar and alien to him.
As with Eldorado, the film would bring a re-recording of the album, but this time there would be some differences. Firstly, the three unused tracks, “Julie Don’t Live Here”, “When Time Stood Still” and “The Bouncer” would be included on the album. Secondly, the order of the tracks would be rearranged somewhat, to fit a clearer chronology, as the traveller experiences the future world.
Terry Gilliam would also direct Time, continuing his work with Lynne and HandMade Films, George Harrison’s film company. Time would be released in November 1996.
Plot Synopsis of Time (1996 film): 
A strange voice echoes over a barren landscape, revealing that it brings a message from another time. In 1981, a man goes to bed, but finds himself falling through a tunnel with flashing lights, seeing images of events as he is transported to the year 2095 (“Prologue”/”Twilight”). The traveller finds himself in the same room, and has access to incredible technology. He gets his bearings, and decides to look himself up, having figured out how to use the computer. He finds that in his 1981 life, he became a wildly successful businessman, founding a company that is responsible for much of the technological innovations that he sees, but that now effectively runs the world as a unified corporate state. He goes out onto the streets to see the world that he will create, and is saddened by how everything that he knows from his neighbourhood has changed. (“The Way Life’s Meant to Be”).
Finding that he does not know how to return to 1981, he decides to start recording messages for his fiancee Julie. During this time he finds that his every need is cared for by the company, and meets an android that is a facsimile of Julie, but is distant and cold (“Yours Truly, 2095”). The traveller decides to take advantage of the technological marvels, and orders a ticket to visit the moon (“Ticket to the Moon”). On the day he is to leave, in the morning he decides to visit Julie’s old neighbourhood to see if it has changed too, discovering that Julie left him after seeing what his company was doing to the world (“Julie Don’t Live Here”). As the traveller boards the shuttle to the moon, he realises that the technological marvels that he is enjoying are not worth losing his love for, but that he has no way of changing it, as he cannot return to 1981 (“Another Heart Breaks”/”When Time Stood Still”).
The traveller arrives on the moon, visiting one of the cities scattered across the surface in environmental domes that simulate an Earth climate. He meets with some scientists who claim to be able to transport him back in time, but discovers that their machine does not work, only able tos end his messages, as his company has withdrawn research grants (“Rain is Falling”). Unexpectedly, an event occurs on Earth (what happens exactly is not specified) that disrupts the climate, causing millions of deaths. His company, despite having the power to do so, decides to not evacuate any non-employees, claiming that it would “not be profitable”. In addition, they stop all flights to or from Earth. The traveller becomes convinced that Julie is ignoring the messages that he has sent back, and gives up on seeing her again, deciding to live a hedonistic life instead (“From the End of the World”).
An unknown time later, the traveller has grown tired of his lifestyle, and is drowning his sorrows at a bar on the Moon, but is snapped out of his depressive mood by one of the songs that the band at the bar plays, finding that its lyrics resonate with him (“The Lights Go Down”). He decides that he will return to Julie at any cost, and stop this future from occurring. He is able to board a shuttle to Satellite Two, but finds that flights to Earth are still grounded. He decides that this will not stop him, and he steals a shuttle, breaking out of the station, and making a course for Earth, pursued by the authorities (“Here is the News”). As the authorities catch up with him, and are about to shoot his shuttle down, time suddenly stops, and the traveller is greeted by one of the “Shades of Time” that transported him to the future. The shade reveals that this has all been done to make the man change his ways, and that he does not belong in the future. The traveller’s rejection of the future world convinced the shades that he has learned his lesson, and that he will be sent back (“21st Century Man”).
As the traveller is returned to his home time, he muses over whether the events actually transpired, or whether they were a vivid dream. He also ponders as to what Julie’s response would be if he told her what had happened, deciding that she would likely tell him it was a dream. (“The Bouncer”). As he returns to the point that he was taken from, he awakes in his bed, changed. He scraps his plans for a certain technological advancement that would have led to the future he saw, and decides to live a fulfilling life with Julie instead. As he walks off to work, he spots the shade again, which gives him an approving look as the credits roll (“Epilogue”/”Hold on Tight”)
Cast of Time (1996 film):
- The Traveller – River Phoenix 
- Julie/Julie-droid – Idina Menzel
- The Bar Singer – Jeff Lynne 
Time was more successful than Eldorado at release, though reviews were slightly less positive. Still, it was a critical success, and only served to further prove the viability of the musical, showing that Eldorado was not a one-off. Following this, various composers and musicians would consider bringing certain musicals and concept albums to the screen to cash in on what might be a new craze.
But Time would not be the only excitement for Jeff Lynne that year. In August of 1996, he signed one of the first acts to join the Wilbury label since it changed from Dark Horse Records. The pair, a French duo called “Daft Punk”, had been DJ-ing in various places, and had had successful singles such as “Da Funk”. The success of these singles was the source of a bidding war, and while not a sizeable record in its own right, Warner Bros. Records were willing to bid on behalf of the Wilbury Records label. Daft Punk’s debut album, Homework, was slated for a 1997 release, and Lynne stepped in to assist in the production of the record. 
 I'll level with you. I'm not as happy with this as I am my story for Eldorado. I've tried to clear up some time inconsistencies in the songs here and there, but there is some stuff I can't completely avoid.
 I've narrowly avoided his death. It's instead a near-death experience, which acts as a bit of a wake-up call to him about his drug use.
 The person that sings "The Lights Go Down". I think a musical cameo is earned for him.
 Daft Punk have some massive ELO influences, and they're sort of a spiritual successor in some ways to me. So I decided that they can work with Lynne. He won't so a huge amount, and going forward, they'll mostly work on their own.