Somewhere in Time (1980)


somewhere in time

Reminiscing can do all kinds of weird and wonderful things, and when selling the merits of this much loved movie to my better half, the fog of nostalgia convinced me and in turn her, to take in a re-watch many years after my last viewing of what I once regarded as a gem.

Years between views haven’t totally diminished its appeal, but time hasn’t been too kind to it either.

Unfortunately, somewhere between now and 1980, Somewhere In Time got old. It’s now TV movie feel and hammy acting hasn’t made its production longevity eternal, though it’s heart and fascinating time travel premise is still, well…timeless; a love story for the ages – eternal indeed.

Between Supermans, Christopher Reeve’s playwright is the amateur time traveller, instantly infatuated with a legendary play actress he glances upon in a hotel museum; it’s Jane Seymour – frankly, who wouldn’t be besotted. Eight years earlier, a frail old lady gifts him a golden pocket watch to start to interlace Somewhere In Time’s compelling sci-fi premise.

Based on Sci-fi legend Richard Matheson’s own novel and his adapted screenplay, the man most known for I am Legend and a preeminent Twilight Zone collaborator, the ability to time travel through hypnosis with fundamental theories of causality and replication is brilliant, an original and simplistic premise that serves to uncomplicatedly send the not so Man of Steel here, back to 1912 to look too often clumsily, woo Miss Seymour.

Reeve’s performance is pure Clark Kent, gawky and harmlessly bullish, innocently charming in much the same way as the movie. His initial bludgeoning attempts to win her over is borderline stalking, but a somewhat underdeveloped sub plot of fate and an instinctive knowing that Reeve’s is “the one she has been waiting for” serves to excuse, perhaps tenuously, the acceptance of a strange man’s out-of-time infatuation.somewhere in time 2

Opposed to Reeve’s advances is Christopher Plummer’s protector and confidant, the formulaic protestor to eternal love, protecting his vision of a triumphant future for his innocent artiste. Plummer’s prophesising ability, again seemingly cognisant of Reeve’s arrival, goes once more unexplained.

But it’s often so uncomplicated that it doesn’t need explanation, Somewhere In Time is a simple tale of love and fate with effective enough performances throughout that may not win any awards but is lovingly and respectfully played by all.

Vaseline lensed, soft focus direction from predominant TV director Jeannot Szwarc lays on the stylistic love giving it all a hazy dreamlike feel but it’s still beautiful and Oscar nominated costume design provides a convincing and sumptuous period feel. Reeve’s garish suit is truly remarkable though.

The beautiful score layers on thick schmaltz but its hard not to still be in love with Somewhere In Time, and it can never be a bad thing to watch the late, great Christopher Reeve.

Nostalgia for a long loved film may gain it more present day credit than the sum of its parts deserve but it remains much better than many of the time spanning love story successors it no doubt inspired.

Perhaps I am going soft, but the half of my heart that isn’t a swinging brick still loves Somewhere In Time. It hasn’t aged as well as hoped, but it’s themes of eternal love and a novel time travel device hasn’t diminished its timeless appeal regardless of its shortcomings.

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17 responses to “Somewhere in Time (1980)

  1. I remember my mom rented this for me when I was in the seventh grade and sick as hell. I will never, to this day, understand why she saw this in the video store and thought, “Hey, Dr. Quinn and Superman, Dave will like this.” Not that it’s bad, but it was so depressing and when you combine the Nyquil with the hazy way its shot to begin with, it’s like a very odd dream sequence. Good review. Personal anecdote done!

    • Ha ha I think many will have personal stories about this one but it is not a good tonic to go with illness your mum was just doing her best lol. Great anecdote!

      • And it is Mother’s Day this weekend….probably shouldn’t cancel the present out of repressed trauma. OH! I’m buying it for her right now with a six pack of Nyquil. Problem solved.

  2. “Unfortunately, somewhere between now and 1980, Somewhere In Time got old.” Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of. I havent seen it in decades, but I worry that everytime I hear someone bring it up. LOL

    • Ha, May be worth looking at it again just to see. It’s horrible when older films aren’t quite as good as you remember. The last one before this was a film called dreamscape with Dennis quaid, dunno if you know it. I thought it was awesome as a kid but man it looks bad now, still live it though :o

    • Ha, May be worth looking at it again just to see. It’s horrible when older films aren’t quite as good as you remember. The last one before this was a film called dreamscape with Dennis quaid, dunno if you know it. I thought it was awesome as a kid but man it looks bad now, still love it though :o

  3. This is one I have been intending to check out for a while, but I have to admit the possibility that it hasn’t aged well does give me some pause. But, so be it. It’s Christopher Reeve, it’s 1980s sci-fi (sort of), I’ll still probably see it at some point.

  4. Only saw this for the first time recently and although it is very syrupy and sweet I really did enjoy it. Loved the fact he could just think “time travel” and do it. Nice review!

  5. I hear ya that the production values might not age well but like you said, the core of the love story is timeless. It’s one of my favorite Christopher Reeve roles (I did a top 5 a while back), he’s just so perfect in this role. Ahah I suppose he reminds me a bit of Clark Kent with his bumbling mannerism. His chemistry w/ Jane Seymour is wonderful to watch though, and ultimately that’s what’s great about this film.

    • Some part of me tells me I should get over this film, but I still love it. It has some sentimental value for me I guess it was a Clare family staple! He is sooooo Clark Kent but frankly Reeve will always be a hero for me, superman or not ;) thanks Ruth x

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