Somewhere in Time (film)

Somewhere in Time (film)

name = Somewhere in Time

caption = original movie poster
director = Jeannot Szwarc
writer = Richard Matheson
starring = Christopher Reeve
Jane Seymour
Christopher Plummer
Teresa Wright
Bill Erwin
producer = Stephen Deutsch
Ray Stark
music = John Barry
cinematography = Isidore Mankofsky
editing = Jeff Gourson
distributor = Universal Pictures
released = October 3, 1980
runtime = 103 min.
country = USA
language = English
budget = $5,100,000 (estimated)
amg_id = 1:45599
imdb_id = 0081534

"Somewhere in Time" is a 1980 time travel romance film directed by Jeannot Szwarc, written by Richard Matheson and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, Teresa Wright and an early cameo by William H. Macy. The movie was filmed on location at the Grand Hotel, and the former Mackinac College - both located on Mackinac Island, Michigan. It was also filmed in Chicago.

Although this movie was well received during its previews, it was widely derided by critics upon release and unsuccessful at the box office. It has earned a large and loyal following since its release to cable television and video, and the movie is now regarded by many to be a cult classic.

Reeve plays Richard Collier, a playwright who becomes stricken by a photograph of a young woman at the Grand Hotel. Through self-hypnosis, he travels back in time to the year 1912 to find love with actress Elise McKenna (portrayed by Seymour). But her manager William Fawcett Robinson (portrayed by Plummer) fears that romance will derail her promising career and has resolved to stop him at all costs.

The film is adapted from the 1975 novel "Bid Time Return" by science fiction writer Richard Matheson, which was subsequently re-released under the film's title. The film is famous for its beautiful musical score, composed by John Barry (which surprisingly was not nominated for an Oscar for Best Score), and often played on the piano by piano students. In addition to Barry's score, the eighteenth variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" runs throughout the film.

Plot summary

The film begins in May 1972, when playwright Richard Collier is approached by an elderly woman who places a pocket watch in his hand while pleading with him to "come back" to her. Eight years later, Richard, stressed from writing his play, decides to take a break and stays at the Grand Hotel, where he becomes entranced by a strangely captivating photograph of a mysterious, beautiful young woman. With the assistance of Arthur Biehl, an old man who's been at the hotel since 1910, Richard discovers that she is Elise McKenna, a famous early 20th-century stage actress. Upon digging deeper, he learns that she was the aged woman who gave him the pocket watch eight years earlier, but who subsequently died later that same evening.

Richard learns about auto-suggestive time travel from an old college professor of his. To accomplish this feat of self-hypnosis, one must remove all things from sight that are related to the current time. He is also warned that such a process would leave one very weak, perhaps dangerously so. Back in his hotel room, Richard tries to will himself into the year 1912 using tape-recorded suggestions, only to fail for lack of real conviction. In the hotel's attic, Richard finds an old guest book from 1912 with his signature in it, and realizes that he will (or did) eventually succeed.

Richard again hypnotizes himself (without the benefit of a modern tape recorder) and allows his absolute faith in his eventual success to become the tipping point or trigger for the journey back through time. He drifts off to sleep and awakens to the sound of whinnying horses in the year 1912. Richard looks all over the hotel for Elise, even meeting Arthur as a little boy, but he has no luck finding her. Finally, he stumbles upon Elise walking by a tree near the lake. She seems to swoon slightly at the sight of him, but then suddenly asks him if he's the one. McKenna's manager, William Fawcett Robinson, abruptly intervenes and sends Richard away. Richard stubbornly continues to pursue Elise until she finally agrees to accompany him on a stroll throughout the surrounding idyllic landscape. Richard ultimately asks why Elise wondered aloud if he was "the one" and she replies that Robinson somehow knows that she will meet a man one day who will change her life forever. Richard then shows Elise the same pocket watch which she will give him 60 years hence.

Upon returning to the hotel, Elise invites Richard to her play. He attends the comedic-farce and she, in an almost trance-like state, recites an impromptu monologue dedicated to him. During intermission he finds her posing formally for a photograph. Upon spotting Richard, Elise breaks into a radiant smile and veritably glows with soft affection. Just then the camera's flash goes off and forever captures that wondrous moment in time. We realize now that this picture is the same one that Richard will see 68 years later on a wall near the lobby at the Grand Hotel. He later receives a letter from Robinson asking to meet him immediately and saying that it is a matter of life and death. Robinson tricks Richard and has him tied up and thrown into the stables. Later, Robinson tells Elise that Richard has left her and isn't the one, but she replies that she doesn't believe him and he's wrong. Elise admits to Robinson that she loves Richard and that he will make her very happy. Dispirited, Robinson leaves her dressing room and reminds her that they leave within the hour.

Richard wakes up the next morning and escapes his constraints. He runs to Elise's room only to discover that her party has left. Richard then goes out to the hotel's capacious deck and begins giving in to despair, but presently perceives Elise calling his name and running towards him. They return to his room together and it is there that Elise becomes truly intimate with a man for the very first time in her life. Later that evening, she asks Richard to marry her and he readily accepts. She then tells him that the first thing she will do for him is buy him a new suit (the suit Richard has been wearing the entire time in 1912 is about ten to fifteen years out of style). Richard begins to show his true love what a wonderful suit it is because of its many pockets. He is alarmed when he reaches into one and finds a shiny new Lincoln penny that has the date of 1979 on it. This has the effect of wrenching him out of his hypnotically-induced time trip, and Richard feels himself rushing backwards from 1912 as though through a tunnel, with Elise screaming his name in horror as he is pulled inexorably back to 1980.

Richard then wakes up in the same room he just left, although now it is 68 years later. He is very weak, physically and emotionally exhausted from his trip through time and from the devastating unexpected return. He scrambles desperately back to his own suite and tries to hypnotize himself again, without success. After wandering around the hotel property and sitting interminably at the places where he shared his innermost thoughts with Elise, Richard eventually retires to his room and remains there until discovered by Arthur, who then calls for a doctor. Richard then sees himself drifting above his body, and he is drawn to a light shining through the nearby window framed with gently billowing white gauzy curtains. In the Light that lies between Earth and Eternity is Elise, waiting for him just as he remembered her and where they will remain together at last in a place beyond time itself.

Differences from the novel

In the novel, Richard travels from 1971 to 1896 rather than 1980 to 1912, and the setting is the Hotel del Coronado rather than the Grand Hotel. Unlike the movie, he is dying from a brain tumor, and the book leaves open the possibility that the time-traveling experience occurs only in his mind. The scene where the old woman hands Richard a pocket watch (which an older version of himself had given to her) does not appear in the book. Thus, the ontological paradox generated by this event is absent; however, there are more subtle versions of the same sort of paradox. Richard thinks he remembers having once met an old Elise, and he does find an old hotel register with what he takes to be his signature, but we don't know how reliable his perspective is. In the book, it is two psychics, not William Fawcett Robinson, who anticipate Richard's appearance. And Richard's death at the end is brought about by his tumor, not heartbreak.


The film follows a timeline not affected by paradoxes. This can be stated by the fact that Richard was always in 1912, even before his time travel there, and his presence there did not affect an alternate history to happen.

**Thursday, June 27: Richard wakes up at the Grand Hotel and meets Elise near the lake.
**Friday, June 28: Richard invites Elise to go on a walk with him. Later that night, he attends her play at the hotel theater.
**Saturday, June 29: Richard finds a 1979 penny in his pocket and disappears from 1912. He also leaves behind his pocket watch with Elise.

**Friday, May 19: Elise returns the pocket watch to Richard. She later returns to her home and dies of old age.

**Richard stays at the Grand Hotel and falls in love with Elise's picture.
**Richard hypnotizes himself to go back to 1912.
**Richard wakes up from 1912 and tries to go back, but can't.
**Richard dies in his room days later.


"Somewhere in Time" has received several awards, including:
*Saturn Award for Best Costume,
*Saturn Award for Best Music,
*Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.

The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Costume Design.

Fan club

In 1990, "Somewhere in Time" fan Bill Shepard founded International Network of "Somewhere In Time" Enthusiasts (INSITE) to "Honor the film, and those responsible for its creation, to Inform members about all aspects of it and enhance their appreciation of it, as well as to Influence public and media perception of the film, to assure its recognition as the classic we know it to be." INSITE has erected a plaque near the hotel to commemorate the first encounter of the film's lovers. In 1997, the fan club also paid for Reeve's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The club can be joined online [] . The Grand Hotel hosts an annual convention for fans of the film.

In addition, Art Bell, creator of "Coast To Coast AM", a radio program that frequently deals with topics such as time travel, has stated on air that "Somewhere In Time" is his favorite movie.Fact|date=July 2008

Production Notes

* Richard Matheson, who wrote the original novel and screenplay, appears in a cameo role as an astonished 1912 hotel guest. The cause of his astonishment is apparently Richard's face after cutting himself shaving with a straight-razor.

* Director Jeannot Szwarc had a slight problem directing the scenes between Christopher Plummer and Christopher Reeve in that whenever he said "Chris" both men would respond with "Yes?" Szwarc resolved this by deciding to address Christopher Plummer as "Mr. Plummer" and addressing Christopher Reeve as "Bigfoot".

* The final scene between Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour before Reeve's character is thrown back into his own time was difficult for Reeve to shoot because he had just learned that his then girlfriend and companion, Gae Exton, was pregnant with his first son, Matthew, so for much of that day his attention was understandably elsewhere.

* In the film, Reeve's character refers to a Dr. Finney as an expert on time travel. This is very probably a reference to author Jack Finney, whose novel "Time and Again" features a very similar approach to traveling through time; Matheson has acknowledged that Finney's novel had great influence over his own.Fact|date=May 2007

* The cars used in the film required special permission from the town to be brought onto, and driven on, the island. The cast and crew of the film were only allowed to drive the vehicles during filming. Motorized vehicles, other than emergency vehicles and snowmobiles in the winter, are prohibited on Mackinac Island. Transportation is limited to horse and buggy or bicycle.

* Director Jeannot Szwarc helmed the 1984 feature film "Supergirl". In an early stage of that film's development, Christopher Reeve was to reprise his role as Superman. Since 2003, Szwarc directed several episodes of the hit TV Series "Smallville" featuring Reeve as Virgil Swann, a scientist who became a friend of Clark Kent (Tom Welling). Jane Seymour played a recurring character during season 4 called Genevieve Teague. In one of Szwarc's episodes, "Void", there is a visual allusion to "Somewhere in Time" when Lana is pulled back against her will into reality, mirroring Richard's return to the present in the film. In another episode, Lex Luthor is seen playing the film's theme on the piano.

* An alternate theory for William Fawcett Robinson's apparent "psychic" ability is that he himself was also a time traveler from the future. The justification for this theory is two-fold. In one scene, Elise claims that he knew many things about how her career would develop and predicted that a man would one day appear who would change her life forever. The second comment is by Robinson himself when he says to Richard "Collier, I know who you are. Ever since you came here, I've known from the start. You came to destroy her." In one of the early scenes in the movie, Elise's housekeeper Laura Roberts tells Richard that in 1912 something happened to Elise that caused her to fade from public view, thus effectively "destroying" her career.

* This movie may have inspired a music video of Leon Lai's single, "I Love You, Ok?", with a mostly similar plot and similar time period where the main character meets his true beloved.

Main cast

External links

* [ Official website]

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