There are two very significant days in the life of Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve). Both involve his career and a woman.
The first occurs in 1972, as the novice playwright celebrates opening night to the applause of the critics promising him a successful future. Among the crowd of well-wishers is an elderly lady (Susan French), who approaches Richard. Placing a gold pocket watch in his hand, she implores, "Come back to me."
In 1980, the second momentous event happens when the frustrated man pulls a blank sheet of paper out of his typewriter and confesses to writer's block. Looking for some inspiration, or at least a break, the now seasoned professional hops in his car and leaves Chicago's busy streets for the peace of the countryside. On a whim, he checks into The Grand Hotel, and spends a few moments looking at the historical building's memorabilia while waiting for the dinning room to open. Almost immediately his gaze is drawn to a vintage portrait of a beautiful girl (Jane Seymour).
The black and white photo seems to haunt him. Feeling a compulsion he can't explain, Richard sets out to discover the name attached to the mysterious face. A trip to the library identifies her as Elise McKenna, an accomplished actress from the turn of the century. A picture taken later in her life also reveals she is the grey-haired gentlewoman he met eight years earlier.
With his curiosity running into obsession, Richard determines to find the connection between them, seeking any possible means of moving back the hands of the clock and returning to 1912.
The scientific theory in the script is flimsy at best, but then it was really never intended to be a sci-fi. Instead, the method described is only concocted in order for the time-crossed lovers to meet. Once that is accomplished, the plot focuses on the budding romance, which is at risk of being plucked away by an overbearing theatrical agent (Christopher Plummer) and/or the possible unearthing of Richard's anachronistic nature.
Although most of the movie is set in the shadow of the Victorian era, the story is illuminated with some more-contemporary notions, such as a sexual relationship between the two unmarried characters. (They graciously blow out the candle, allowing the scene to fade to black before any more of the obscured nudity is revealed.) As well, Elise struggles between choosing job opportunities over settling down as a wife. (A certain amount of heavy-handed persuasion is used to prevent Richard from making up her mind.)
Despite such flaws and a plodding plot, the warm sentimentality of the film does seem to satisfy most chic-flick fans. Especially those who enjoy basking in the persistence of true love, and the belief it is worth searching for--even if it can only be found Somewhere in Time.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
In an exaggerated example of the power of positive thinking, Richard is able to convince himself he is in The Grand Hotel in 1912. What do you think can realistically be accomplished by a change of attitude or having a firm faith in an ideal?
The 1960s classic, The Time Machine, takes a more scientific approach to the possibilities of visiting the future. A romantic relationship develops between Kate and Leopold, an improbable couple who have dissimilar values because they come from two different places in time.
Actor Christopher Reeve also underwent a life-altering experience after an accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. In 2004 he directed his last film project, The Brooke Ellison Story, about the life of another paraplegic.
Home Video Notes
Blu-ray Notes: Somewhere in Time
Release Date: 4 March 2014
Somewhere in Time releases to Blu-ray on March 4, 2014.
DVD Notes: Somewhere in Time: Collector’s Edition
Release Date: 31 October 2000
Somewhere in Time has secured an enthusiastic audience, thanks to it’s repeated TV showings. On the Collector’s Edition DVD, you can learn more about the film’s Fan Club—as well as the movie. Director Jeannot Szwarc offers commentary, interviews and biographies are provided by the cast and crew, while a featurette titled Back to Somewhere in Time reminisces about the production. The original theatrical trailer and photo galleries are thrown in for good measure. Audio Tracks are available in English and French (both in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), with subtitles in English and Spanish.