Somewhere in Time (1980) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to travel back in time and meet the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel.

  • Young writer Richard Collier is met on the opening night of his first play by an old lady who begs him to "Come back to me". Mystified, he tries to find out about her, and learns that she is a famous stage actress from the early 1900s, Elise McKenna. Becoming more and more obsessed with her, he manages, by self hypnosis, to travel back in time where he meets her. They fall in love, a matching that is not appreciated by her manager. Can their love outlast the immense problems caused by their "time" difference? And can Richard remain in a time that is not his?

  • A young playwright, Richard Collier (Reeve), is approached by an elderly woman on the occasion of his first triumph in 1972 -- all she says to him is "Come back to me" and leaves him with a watch that contains a picture of a ravishing young woman. Eight years later, he visits the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island and comes upon a photograph of the same woman, whom he discovers was an actress who made an appearance at the hotel in 1912. He becomes obsessed with the image and what the woman -- who died the night she approached him in 1972 -- meant by what she said. In a manner somewhat reminiscent of the film Laura, he falls in love with her and her image as he learns more about her life and career. Then he comes upon the suggestion of a professor at his former college that time travel may, in fact, be possible, using an extreme form of self-hypnosis to free the person from the place they occupy in the time-stream. Collier's feelings for the woman are so strong that he succeeds, bringing himself back to the hotel in 1912 on the eve of her triumph..

  • The movie opens with college student Richard Collier gathering rave reviews for his new play. At the party, he comes face to face with an old woman who presses something in his hand and whispers, "Come back to me." He opens his hand to find an old pocket watch. Cut to several years later. Playwright Collier is in the midst of a break-up and writers block. He leaves the city for awhile to think things out and finds himself near his alma mater at the Grand Hotel. While wandering around the hotel, he finds a photograph of a beautiful young woman. Richard is entranced, and tries to find out all he can about her. During the course of his research he learns she was Elise McKenna, an actress from the turn of the century. He also discovers that she was the mysterious old woman who gave him the watch. Finally determining that he must meet her somehow, he employees self-hypnosis and wills himself back to 1912. He meets Elise and they fall in love, which does not make her manager, William Fawcett Robinson, happy at all. Will their love survive Robinson's disapproval? Will Richard be able to stay in 1912?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Celebrating the success of his first play, Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) is approached by an elderly woman who presses an antique pocket watch into his hand and whispers, "Come back to me." A few years later, during a period of writer's block, he sees a photograph in a hotel museum, and learns that this elderly woman was once a talented and lovely actress. Drawn mysteriously to the expression on the woman's face in the photograph, he turns to a former professor for insights on time travel.

    For he must find her, even if he has to go back to 1912 to do so. Self-hypnosis, and removing reminders of the modern present are the keys, and Collier eventually awakens the day before Elise McKenna's (Jane Seymore) August 1912 performance at the Grand Hotel.

    McKenna's manager, William Robinson (Christopher Plummer) is an obstacle. There are hints that he is clairvoyant, and he fears the man who will change McKenna's life. His attempts to separate the couple, however, backfire, causing his protogee to resent him. Elise and Richard press on, and are eventually able to declare their love for each other.

    A tiny forgotten object from 1980 pulls Richard away from his beloved, and all his attempts to re-hypnotise himself and return to 1912 fail. His grief overwhelms him, and he dies. On the "other side," the young Elise is waiting to welcome him, and the lovers are reunited.

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