Then & Now: Somewhere In Time

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Geoff Harris

Somewhere in Time (1980) is the story of Richard Collier (played by Christopher Reeve), a playwright who becomes obsessed with a young woman who lived in the year 1912. Based on the novel by Richard Matheson, the main character uses self-hypnosis to travel back into the past so he can be with the object of his affection. He succeeds and uses his knowledge of the period to navigate his way around. It’s a beautiful love story that ends in a very dark tragic way. But most romantic stories contain an element of menace or tragedy.

Then

This is one of those “watching everything on cable” movies I encountered in the early days of pay television. Time travel fascinated me and that being a central part of the plot  is what kept me glued for the run of the movie. It’s mostly a love story about Reeves wooing Jane Seymour. Being a period piece was interesting. Seeing history brought to life is always watchable. I was too young to really appreciate the main character’s feelings of love (and his obsession) for the  woman he literally wished himself to be with. Girls were still these odd creatures I was told to be nice to and not treat them as brutishly as I did my male friends. The ending of the movie came as a surprise. Reeves is thrown back to the present because of a goof and spends the last days of his life starving himself to death hoping to be reunited with his lost love. Some dark ass shit for a preteen to be watching. (Well, for a non-goth.)

Now

Christopher Reeve was just beginning in Hollywood. Superman made him a household name and he was exploring other roles. He had a boyish charm and the God-given looks of a star. Somewhere In Time is a touchstone in a career cut far too short by an accident which left him paralyzed from the neck down. In a lot of ways, so was this movie. Self-hypnosis time travel? Seriously?!?! The center idea behind Quantum Leap holds more water. Reeves just “wishes” himself, clothes and all, back to the year 1912 and we’re supposed to just nod and go along with it. If the viewer approaches it as a fantasy then it is more digestible to the mental palette. I have had my share of knockdown drag out fights about time travel and how the trope is bent and twisted by any given writer. If you’re one of those “it’s gotta make some logical sense” science fiction fans, don’t watch this movie. However, if you enjoy character-driven drama and/or have a significant other who isn’t really into sci-fi/fantasy, this is a good “chick flick” alternative. I’d put it up there with movies like Serendipity and The Lakehouse. It’s gee-whiz physics and arrow-trough-the heart drama.

Oh, I think I forgot something…yes…here it is! I was criticizing how stiff and wooden the plot is. Oh God! I forgot about that. Noooo! I’m being drawn back to the start of this article!

(Geoff never finished that thought and spent the next few days sitting alone in his room staring at the walls until , ultimately, he got bored and wrote about something else instead.)

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