26 September 2023

Somewhere in Time

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

Director: Jeannot Szwarc, Via Vision Entertainment.

Cast: Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer.

This 1980 romantic fantasy drama is a timeless love story of a young writer who sacrifices his life in the present to find happiness in the past.

A playwright Richard Collier (Reeve, Superman) becomes obsessed with a photograph of a young woman Elise McKenna (Seymour, Live and Let Die), a turn-of-the-century stage actress, while staying at the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan.

As Richard’s obsession grows, he learns from a friend that time travel may actually be possible through hypnosis. Through self-hypnosis, he wishes himself back in time to the year 1912 to find love, to meet Elise and the two appear destined to be together. However, Elise’s jealous manager William Fawcett Robinson (Plummer) attempts to keep them apart. He fears that romance will derail her career and resolves to stop him.

Robinson’s apprehension and resentment are understandable since he has guided her career since she was 16. Now a stranger has come from nowhere to steal his protégé.

It’s unusual for director Szwarc not to have dealt with the romance between Collier and McKenna nor is the opportunity taken to exploit the fact that he’s from the future. It also doesn’t really matter that the film is never quite clear about whether Collier actually does travel through time or only hypnotizes himself into thinking he does.

Seymour’s beauty is delicate, while Reeve’s role is not entirely convincing in this sombre movie.

This film adaptation is of the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay.

The musical score composed by John Barry features the 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. It’s one of the most beautiful tunes written by Rachmaninoff: a mosaic of variations and exquisite melody.

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