Somewhere in Time (SE)/C+,C+
Universal/1980/104/WS 1.85

    So many people seem to love Somewhere in Time; every time I've seen it I've tried watching from a fresh perspective. I like time travel movies, and in fact, these conventions are respected. One can interpret the fantastic elements from realistic analysis, and it works. The story floats like a like a veil of transparent gauze. The execution, while it appears a labor of love, leaves me less than breathless. 
     Young playwright Richard Collier is given a haunting gift by an old woman on the night of his first theater triumph. Years later, facing writer's block, he makes a trip that takes him far further than he ever might imagine. Attracted by a gloriously posh opulent nineteenth century hotel, Collier spends the night and is strangely attracted to the photo portrait of an actress hanging in the small hotel museum. He cannot escape the magnetism of the image and is compelled to investigate further.





Looking back at Somewhere in Time. ŠUniversal

     The script by Richard Matheson is  based on his novel Bid Time Return. There's lots of montage work, limited dialogue, and a thin plot line. The camera work of Isadore Mankofsky and the John Barry score are hugely important to put Somewhere in Time across. They are effective, but when everything is put together by director Jeannot Szwarc, there just isn't much there.  
     Perhaps inspired acting might have raised the film above its simplistic thematic treatment. Christopher Reeve tries hard as romantic time traveler Richard Collier, but his looks of wonder are more like smirks, and he often seems like he's playing comedy as opposed to romance. He's so sincere you almost see his eyelashes batting. Jane Seymour is okay in the role as Elise McKenna, the object of Richard's desire. She captures a turn of the century beauty in her carriage and line
delivery. It turns out that both Christophers are problematic. Christopher Plummer may not twirl his mustache as William Fawcett Robinson, the martinet manager of McKenna, but the performance is pretty close to broad nineteenth century acting styles.  
     The moody photography is very grainy and the DVD transfer struggles to replicate the mood. The grain never looks quite tight enough and the widescreen images could really have used an anamorphic transfer to extract the most from the problematic film elements. Contrast levels are frequently flat and delicate compositions somewhat washed out. The highly stylized horse ride montage fails to bring to life the impressionistic look inspired by artists Seurat or Monet. Overall resolution is far less than pleasing. Most of the close-ups are all right, but soft image rules Somewhere in Time. Color rendition is fine. There is some dirt evident in the elements, but it's minor. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound captured the lush nature of John Barry's score.
    The special edition DVD includes audio commentary from director Jeannot Szwarc and a full blown original remembrance documentary Back to Somewhere in Time. Szwarc's comments often overlap the material in the documentary, but along with Szwarc, Christopher Reeve looks back on making the film, as well as Richard Matheson, Jane Seymour, Christopher Plummer, John Barry and Isadore Mankofsky.  Reeve relates one out body experience that came as a result of his tragic accident, and it's very poignant indeed.  The Somewhere in Time fan club outlines the history of the club in a short presentation and invites you to participate at Maybe you too could take a trip back to the Grand Hotel where much of the film takes place.




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