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Monday, August 3, 2009

Somewhere in Time

I sort of have a sense why this is such a cult classic. The question that I cannot answer now (unless I twist time myself) is whether I would have given the movie a second thought if I had NOT read about it being a cult classic and had NOT been swept away by the original soundtrack by John Barry, and if I had not seen the incredible ice dance program choreographed by David Wilson based on not just the soundtrack but rather the movie itself.

Romance is generally not my genre. I'd like to believe that I would nevertheless have sensed the strangeness in this movie directed by a Frenchman Jeannot Szwarc. In some ways it feels foreign, slightly detached, dreamlike --- not in the way Terry Gilliam made "12 Monkeys." One thing I disliked about "12 Monkeys" is how self-conscious it is about the time travel plot device. "Somewhere in Time" seems so primitive, so old-fashioned about the time travel device that the whole thing fits together perfectly, harmoniously old-fashioned in every aspect.

In some ways the movie's aesthetics reminds me a bit of Julian Schnabel, meticulously visual, with an eye of a painter. Well, strangely enough, Szwarc is a Frenchman who works largely in the US, Schnabel is an American who directed a French movie ("The Diving Bell and Butterfly"). Another coincidence is that Szwarc actually directed an episode of Heroes.

In looking up background stuff about the novel's author on which the movie was based, I found out (thanks to wikipedia) that this rather silly device (hypnotizing yourself into the past) has its own little subgenre. Richard Matheson's "Bid Time Return" is hardly the only one. Fascinating. I'm suddenly having an urge to look up some more "old-style" science fiction and fantasies based on old scientific theories and stuff and inhale their strange, musty charm, like "Somewhere in Time."

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