When historical figures time travel in pop culture, it’s usually shown in a goofy Bill & Ted kind of way. Haha, they don’t know what cars are! Haha, they have the manners of someone born hundreds of years ago, not the manners of MODERN people! They can’t keep up with this business and social media-driven world, though they certainly know a little something about morality. Heather Graham plays busy PR Executive Chelsea Parker and Liam Neeson plays Richard I of England in Right On Time.
Then this commercial came along and you know what, people from the past? Stay there. I don’t care how many hijinks you get into when you don’t understand how televisions work, or when you form a comical, yet heartwarming bond with a friendly cab driver. I don’t want you to go through what Marco Polo is going through.
The Venetian explorer from the 13th century has somehow been transported to a suburban pool, surrounded by kids playing a game of Marco Polo. We can infer that Marco Polo was not invented while Marco Polo was still a living, breathing person, because he’s baffled by this. What a hilarious circumstance! They’re crying out “Marco Polo!” and that’s his name! It’s crazy.
But consider this: Those are the only two words that Marco Polo can understand. Not only has he been transported to a completely foreign continent and has had his only set of fine clothes ruined by being dropped into a chlorinated pool, but he is surrounded by nothing but gibberish. And the only exception to the bewildering language are children who shout his own name incessantly, and pay him no mind when he attempts to communicate with them. He’s an explorer, so he’s used to being in unfamiliar places. But these kids squawk his name and then ignore him like he’s in a damn Edgar Allen Poe story. “What purgatory is this?” he asks himself. “What did I do to deserve this?”
And what happens when those kids’ parents come outside, and find a strange, older man, dressed like someone from the Middle Ages, begging their swimsuit-ed children to acknowledge him? They’ll yell at him, and probably threaten him with physical violence. He’ll rush away, and eventually hide somewhere, scared of this journey into a new, uncaring world that began with young children screaming his name and seemingly mocking his inability to fit in. It’s a terrifying land, Marco Polo thinks as he finally drifts to sleep. The abandoned construction site doesn’t offer much protection from the rain, but it’s enough. With concrete flooring for a bed, Marco Polo has one dream. “Marco!….Polo!”