It has been 37 years since Jeannot Szwarc and Richard Matheson adapted the “Bid Time Return” novel into the film Somewhere in Time (1980). If you have never seen this brilliantly crafted film we recommended stopping right here, saving this article and watching the film however you can. Somewhere in Time is perhaps one of the greatest love stories and/or time travel films ever to grace the silver screen. After a play in college, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) is greeted by an old woman who hands him a watch and says “come back to me”. Having never seen this woman before, Richard takes the watch and watches as she walks out of his life forever. Years later, the now professional playwright finds himself stuck on completing his latest opus. He retreats to an old hotel and there beholds an old photograph of a beautiful young woman. Inspired by her image, Richard is compelled to learn all about her. What he discovers is that the old woman who gave him the watch back in college is the same woman in the photo, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour). Furthermore, Richard finds proof in the hotel’s old ledgers that he may have once been part of Elise’s life. The “how” and “why” are just fractions of what makes this an incredible film. Below you’ll find “10 Things we Love about Somewhere in Time”. We gladly celebrate the film on June 27th, the day Richard went back in time to find Elise.
That There is No Time Machine
One of the biggest hurdles that director Jeannot Szwarc had to work around with the studio, Universal, was that Richard travels back in time using only his mind. He is able to accept this completely when he discovers proof that he was, in fact, there in 1912. His ability to travel back in time proves that the mind is the most powerful tool of all.
That the Whole Film is a Time Loop
If you really think about it, Richard and Elise are in a perpetual time loop. Elise gives him the watch, Richard finds a way back to her, he is pulled back to his own time, and once again she must find him to give him the watch. All stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but the story of Elise and Richard is just one long heartbreaking circle.
John Barry, by this time, was already a master of his craft. He was deemed too expensive by Szwarc for this little film. However, Jane Seymour not only suggested Barry compose the score but also got him to actually do it. If you love the music to this film as much as we do, you may not know that Barry composed the score while grieving for the loss of both parents during production.
That Superman Can Die of a Broken Heart
Christopher Reeve’s initial concern with his role was that audiences may not believe that “Superman”, a character he was already synonymous with, could die of a broken heart. This is funny because if you look back at the original Superman film, Clark seems to have a broken heart when he finds Lois Lane crushed by an Earthquake. We believe it, Chris, all the more because you played Superman with all your heart. A broken heart is the only thing that could hurt your Man of Steel.
Elise and Richard have one full day together. We see other small moments here and there, but it is Elise’s impromptu speech during the hotel play that really solidifies how much she is in love with Richard. The irony is that her speech, seen in the film, is actually not given to Christopher Reeve, but to the screenwriter and author, Richard Matheson. There were problems with the original takes and Szwarc had Seymour do it again with only Matheson in the audience.
The Question: Is He the One/ Is it You?
There is an underlined backstory to the film that is never fully addressed. Elise asks her manager, Robinson (Christopher Plummer), “Is he the one?”. This has created some speculation that Elise, living this time loop over and over again, has become aware that she has a man she is destined to meet. Thus “the one” is and forever will be Richard. There are all kinds of warnings and speculations from Robinson, but even he cannot stop time or destiny.
Seymour and Reeves’ Chemistry
Jane Seymour has admitted that as powerful as the chemistry is in the film, there was not a romance off camera between her and Reeve. Yet, the friendship between the two endured for years after the film was completed. Seymour even named one of her sons after Reeve. She even stepped in on Smallville to help wrap up the plot Reeve’s character of Dr. Swann (after Reeve passed away) by playing the character of Genevieve Teague. Careful spoilers in this clip below.
That There is a Fan Club – INSITE
Fan clubs and appreciation societies are nothing new for films. Are you surprised that Somewhere in Time has its own fan club? Founded in 1990, only ten years after the film’s debut, INSITE (International Network of Somewhere In Time Enthusiasts) has been gathering fans and spreading the word about this fantastic film ever since. They even meet at the hotel from the film, Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel (Details here). Certainly, movies like Star Wars or TV Shows like Star Trek have fan bases. After all, they have multiple films and incarnations to gather a large pool of fans to draw from. However, how many single movies, not a part of a franchise, can you site that has a fan club that is over 20 years old?
The great thing about Somewhere in Time is that a lot of the film hinges on Elise’s picture. Christopher Reeve did not want to see the photograph ahead of time, as both he and Szwarc wanted a genuine reaction of Richard seeing it for the first time (seen below at 1:13). Yet later, we see Elise take the photograph and we learn the look on her face is that of actually seeing Richard when it is being taken. This makes additional moments with the photo, later, all the more heartbreaking.
Someone Wrote a Sequel/ Prequel Book
Yes, someone wrote a short novel titled “Memoirs of Elise”. Author David L. Gurnee composed a story about what happened to Elise after the moment Richard left her and her quest to return the watch to him. Yes, even some stories must be told. If you rush to Amazon to pick up a copy, it will cost you over $60 for just the paperback. Best of luck finding one on the cheap. Yet, in some way, it seems worth it.
Somewhere in Time is a perfect film, a great love story that proves that nothing can keep two people apart who are destined to be together. If only this could be said of all of our own love stories. Well, the lucky ones can say that and I count myself among them.