Making the Grades
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 After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Somewhere In Time.
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?