When Love Blossoms “Somewhere in Time”
Even if some critics had given it a poor rating, Somewhere in Time is still one of my favorite romance movies, since I like watching films with a historical setting.
Based on the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (who wrote many episodes of the TV series The Twilight Zone), the movie stars the late Christopher Reeve (best known for his Superman role), Jane Seymour (star of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) and Christopher Plummer (who plays William Fawcett Robinson).
Summary of story
Somewhere in Time opens with a college theater scene where young playwright Richard Collier (played by Reeve) is celebrating with his friends after the staging of a play he has written. He is suddenly approached by an elderly woman (played by Susan French) who hands him a gold pocket watch and begs him to come back to her.
An old lady (Susan French) hands Richard (Christopher Reeve) a gold pocket watch. "Come back to me."
The story then moves forward to eight years later, showing Richard now successful in his writing career. When he decides to relax and spend some time at the Grand Hotel, he sees an old portrait of a beautiful woman hanging on a wall of the hotel’s museum. Captivated, he starts a thorough research on her and discovers later on that she is the old lady who handed him the pocket watch. He also learns that she is Elise McKenna, once a famous stage actress.
Richard is enchanted by the woman in the portrait.
His search further leads him to seek the advice of his college professor (played by George Voskovec) who wrote a book on time travel. Following his instructions and succeeding in going back to 1912, Richard finally meets the young Elise (played by Seymour), and they instantly fall in love. Their love affair ceases, however, when Richard – at the sight of a penny with the date “1979”! – is suddenly pulled back to that year.
Please, don't leave. You have no idea how far I've come to be with you.— Richard Collier
One scene in this movie that freaks me out is where Richard, one night, goes to the hotel’s attic and finds a dusty 1912 guest book where written on one of the pages is his signature! This confirms that he was indeed present in that year.
Another good scene is where Richard painstakingly hypnotizes himself by listening to tape-recorded suggestions that would enable him to return to 1912. For this, I credit Matheson for cleverly creating this episode, as well as the scene where Richard’s professor advises him that for him to travel through time, he must remove from his sight everything of the present!
Richard hypnotizes himself.
But like any woman, I am thrilled at the scene where Richard and Elise meet for the first time by the lake. Being a foolish romantic, I find this moment happening in the perfect time and place!
I also appreciate the natural beauty in the scenes where the lovers walk leisurely around the garden and enjoy a boat ride. To me, these are the most pleasant settings for courtship.
Richard and Elise (Jane Seymour) meet for the first time. "Is it you?"
The man of my dreams has almost faded now. The one I have created in my mind. The sort of man each woman dreams of, in the deepest and most secret reaches of her heart. I can almost see him now before me. What would I say to him if he were really here?
I cannot find the words. Except for these: I love you". Such would I say to him if he were really here.— Elise McKenna
But perhaps the most dramatic scene for me is where Richard - due to his carelessness - is dragged back to 1979, and in his desperate attempt to re-hypnotize himself, he fails and cries bitterly. It is at this part that I feel deep sorrow until the end of the story.
I guess what makes this movie popular is not the story, but the score composed by John Barry. Its melody definitely sets the romantic mood. I enjoy listening to this especially when it is played at wedding receptions in Manila.
For viewers fond of romances, I highly recommend Somewhere in Time. It is, indeed, a beautiful love story blended with a good sense of mystery.