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Time-Traveling Technology - A Look At The Tools On LOST (Part 1)

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For being stuck on a mysterious semi-deserted Island, the Losties have managed to access a wide-range of different technologies. The most interesting thing about it though, is that the technologies they've come across all originated in different periods of human history, way before the Island started skipping through time.

From torches, to flashlights, to campfires; from canoes, to sailboats, to submarines, the survivors of Oceanic 815 have always managed to get their hands on some tool or useful item from time-periods other than their own. Could it be these seemingly innocent and irrelevant technological pieces were inserted in to the story as context clues to the plot twisting time-travel of Season 5? Or were the writers just smart enough to keep things interesting by dropping in pieces of the outside world throughout the series?

Either way, as we enter the 7th week of the Rewatch I present to you a series of posts exploring the different technologies seen in LOST and how it may (or may not) relate to the greater themes of the show. Were these the context clues pointing toward the Island's time-traveling nature all along? Or just another good use of creativity in an already awesome show?

NOTE: These posts doesn't try to be comprehensive lists of every time one of these devices are seen in the series, but just try to enhance your experience of LOST by highlighting another way the creators may (or may not) have been giving us context clues all along. I don't think these posts are good enough to help in the formation or new theories, nor am I trying to propose any. Rather, I hope they give you something interesting to think about as we pass the long-painful time of waiting for the final season.


DHARMA Orientation Films

Umatic

The time periods of when the Orientation films were recorded, don't match up to the type of video equipment they were recorded on...

The Orientation films from the various stations were the first items I noticed to fit this patten. The Swan's Orientation film is an old reel-to-reel magnetic tape. This kind of video equipment was mostly used from the 1930s until the invention of cassette tapes in the 1960s. The orientation film for The Pearl station uses a U-matic tape, which weren't on the market until the early 1970s. This is strange considering that, as of Season 5, we know The Pearl was built before The Swan (see the notebook Annie uses in The Man Behind the Curtain and Radzinsky's plans in Namaste). We also see U-matic video equipment in usage at The Hydra station, though it hasn't been revealed yet when The Hydra was constructed. Furthermore, the orientation film for The Orchid uses a VHS tape and VCR, two pieces of equipment not made popular until the late 1980s. This again is strange since we know construction on The Orchid began prior to construction on The Swan.

While there are other DHARMA Initiative films we haven't seen what kind of equipment they were recorded on, and so we can't say for sure that they fit this pattern. Some of the other films, such as the Flame computer video or the Room 23 video, have been left off this list because they either aren't orientation films, or their true original purpose has yet to be made clear. In any event, these Orientation films listed above are a clear case of time-spanning technology the Losties encountered.


Lights, Lanterns and Torches

ScripturesFDK

The oil lamp seen on the wall of the chamber.

The Losties have used or had access to a number of different ways to find their way around in the dark. First, of course, were the campfires set on the beach, which led to torches. The Others have used both these things, although their torches seem to be more modern and intentionally made in comparison to the rags-wrapped-around-sticks-style ones used by the Losties. Both camps have also been seen using flashlights and lighters to lead their way. But the main device that makes the character's sources of light significant are the oil lamps affiliated with both Jacob's Cabin, and the Frozen wheel chamber.

When the audience sees both of these locations for the first time, we visit them alongside Benjamin Linus. At both locations, these oil lamps seem to have been intentionally placed near the entrance, and Ben lights them in a very ceremonial manner. The idea of light being an ancient symbol for knowledge makes these instances that much more mysterious, as Ben has always seemed to have some kind of secret knowledge about the Island. John Locke and Christian Shepherd are the only other two characters seen using these kind of lamps.



In my next post, we'll look at some other technologies from across time found around the Island, including the various means of transportation used by the Losties. In the meantime, what do you think? Is the fact that technological advancements from various eras of history being on the Island significant, or am I over-analyzing? Have you noticed any other things the survivors have encounted different versions of from various time-periods before the Island's skipping in Season 5?

Thanks for reading...

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