Book/Film Comparison: Somewhere In Time: Time Travel and Lost Love

Having just immersed myself in both the book and the film Somewhere In Time, I felt it was absolutely necessary to dedicate a post to them both. Incidentally, the original title for the book is Bid Time Return by the masterful Richard Matheson. The was changed for the film to make it more accessible, although I prefer the original (of course, don't I always??). However, I'm happy to report that Matheson also wrote the screenplay, which is why it translates so well to the big screen.


Now this is most definitely not the first time I had heard of, or seen the film. I've no doubt watched it at least a dozen times throughout the previous years. But this is the first time I had read the book, devouring it in a scant two days. At first, I didn't care for the choppy sentences, or the way Richard (our hero and main character) 'spoke'. Perhaps my seeing the film first so many times clouded my judgement there, I'm not sure. And there are several elements I didn't care for in the book, but I won't cloud your opinions with spoilers here.

Two fascinating things happened during this two-day immersion of book and film:


  • It rekindled my lifelong interest in time travel
  • It rekindled my admiration of Christopher Reeve (may his soul fly free), and what he brought to the role coming immediately off of Superman
Time travel has always interested me, and perhaps science will catch up with it someday. They now say that time travel to the future is possible, but not to the past. Hmm... All of our selfish desires aside, going back to the past would indeed be a wondrous, and most likely dangerous feat. One that we mere humans at our current stage of evolution could not begin to handle properly.

Christopher Reeve portrays Richard flawlessly. I found myself conducting a sort of character study of 'Richard', noting the changes he goes through after just the first sight of the photograph of Elise. These changes are subtle, yet significant, and differ slightly from those in the book. The sincerity with which Christopher plays Richard is so genuine, so believable, and very touching. The same can absolutely be said for Jane Seymour, as Elise. No one else could have played her so beautifully, and a lot has to be said for she and Christopher's chemistry--one that would last many years after the film. She has named one of her sons after him.

So for those who are rolling their eyes, scoffing at this 'gushy love story', let me enlighten you to a few things. It was a string of men who believed in this story so much and got it made into film. Everyone who worked on the film did so for less pay than they were accustomed to getting, for sheer love of the project. In fact, the music, which was so essential to the story line, was done by John Barry (Goldfinger, Midnight Cowboy, Dances with Wolves just to name a few) as a favor to Jane, his dear friend. A testament to the power of this 'gushy love story' had over many people.

Obviously, I cannot recommend the book and the film highly enough. Both are expertly executed, and make for great storytelling. The one thing I will say is perhaps to read the book and then see the film, if you have not already seen it. Heart wrenching, beautiful and an interesting idea of time travel and lost love. Don't forget to watch the wonderful documentary on the special features of the DVD.It will help give you a true sense of what it was like to make a film of this nature, in this time period. Just lovely.