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Somewhere in Time Reviews

Reviewed By: Lisa Kropiewnicki

Somewhere In Time was a labor of love for everyone involved in it, from the producer Stephen Deutsch and director Jeannot Szwarc, who originated the project (under the auspices of Ray Stark's Raystar Productions) to composer John Barry, who took a fraction of his usual fee to score the finished film. Made for barely $4 million, an insignificant budget in Hollywood even in 1980, the movie ran counter to the usual fantasy films of its era, with no reliance on elaborate special effects in telling its tale of time travel. The makers realized that with the resources at hand, the movie could only work if the romance at the center of the plot was credible, and in that regard, Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour were ideally cast opposite each other. There are flaws, particularly in some aspects of Reeve's performance, which is too callow at times, but they do carry it off with help from Christopher Plummer, Bill Erwin, Susan French, and Teresa Wright. The result was a 1980 movie that had more in common with such 1940s romantic fantasies as Portrait of Jennie, Stairway to Heaven, and Beyond Tomorrow than with any films of its own era. Understandably, the critics savaged Somewhere in Time for its sentimentality. It died at the box office, and that might have been the last that anyone heard of it. Among those people who had seen the movie and loved it, however, was the programming director of a new Los Angeles movie cable service called Z-Channel, which licensed it from Universal (which was only too happy to see any interest in the movie) in the early 1980s, giving hundreds of thousands of viewers their first chance to see Somewhere in Time. From that beginning, Somewhere in Time developed a major cult following that blossomed when it went to home video and continues to grow in the 21st century; there are large clubs of enthusiasts and fans, who have even organized forums in which the makers and cast members meet to celebrate the film; if not on the level of the Trekkies and Star Trek, the phenomenon is still an impressive viewer response to a movie. Somewhere in Time is very much a film for romantics -- those for whom the central story and the characters don't resonate will likely not enjoy it at all; but for others, it is a ravishing, totally enveloping experience. The John Barry score has also found a life of its own in a new CD recording as of the year 2000 -- his music, some of the best of his career, was aided by the presence in the film of the 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme of Paganini, which had also figured prominently 27 years earlier in MGM's The Story of Three Loves.