'Somewhere in Time': The Soundtrack Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Somewhere in Time': The Soundtrack

0 Conversations

Somewhere in time,
we met through others' will,
and in the evening mist
we kissed
and time stood still.

Writer Richard Matheson wrote his novel Bid Time Return when he found a photograph of seclusive actress Maude Adams1 (1872 - 1953). He was intrigued by the mystery which surrounded a time in her life when she changed from a youthful gregarious personality to practically a recluse. The film Somewhere in Time, based upon Matheson's novel, was made in 1980. The story involves a man, Richard Collier (played by Christopher Reeve), who travels back in time 68 years to meet a beautiful woman, Elise McKenna (played by Jane Seymour), whose image he fell in love with. Matheson wrote the screenplay, and also has a cameo role in the film.

Somewhere in time
life is a circle;
somewhere in time
it yearns
to be complete.

Matheson is a huge fan of Gustav Mahler, especially his Symphony No 10, which was his first choice for the soundtrack. However, there were problems adapting the screenplay during editing to suit Mahler's symphony. Rachmaninov's 'Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini' was used instead, but the visual images of Mahler and his work remained in the film as a tribute to the writer's favourite composer. You can see a Mahler album in Richard's apartment in the 1972 segment, and there's a bust of Mahler on his desk in 1980. The substitution actually worked quite well, because in 1912, Elise knew of Rachmaninov, but the Rhapsody which Richard hummed was unknown to her, as it hadn't yet been written.

You're always here
inside of me;
I find a meaning now
in all that I see.

The setting is the beautiful Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island, Michigan, USA. It's here in 1912 that chaperoned actress Elise McKenna is performing in a play. Richard undertakes a dangerous journey to find her, overcoming many obstacles along the way. They find each other and discover a once-in-a-lifetime love, although their life paths from that moment are very different. Elise spends 60 years growing old, awaiting her lover's return, Richard dies within a week of their cruel parting.

Love never goes
once it has touched your heart,
just like the taste of lips that's left
when lovers part

The classical music soundtrack is an absolute joy, sad yet uplifting, ultimately moving. The brilliant composer John Barry wrote different themes for events in the film, all based upon the original Rhapsody. Richard's initial discovery of the photograph in 1980 touches his soul – we hear the same music when we find out later in the film that Elise was actually looking at him when the photo was taken. The deep bass instrumental version embodies the scene when Richard is using his strength of will to travel back in time. The lighter wind instrumental is used when the old lady gives young Richard the watch at the beginning of the film, and whispers: Come back to me. After their first meeting (in 1912) and Richard's refusal to be rebuffed, Elise finds herself falling for him, and the sudden realisation of dawning love has a profound effect upon her. Her manager catches her smiling at her reflection in a mirror, and the music reflects her internal feelings.

Somewhere in time
love is forever:
a love that's here,
a love that's now,
to last for all time.

Elise's unscheduled soliloquy during her play, when she recites how her life has changed and how different she feels to a mesmerised audience (including Richard), is played by all the strings. The full orchestral crescendo when the lovers are alone together at last perfectly communicates their passion for each other: two soulmates physically together for two days and a night. The haunting finale – where Richard is dumped back into his present time, separated from his true love, and his utter despair when he realises he can't return – it's heartbreaking.

Somewhere in time,
all sorrows pass to memory.
Somewhere in time,
we are
as we're meant to be.

Walking along the shore where they met, for him, just days previously, was actually 68 years ago, and he knows Elise is dead. This is his ultimate acceptance, and he's no longer interested in living on. He refuses to eat, and closets himself away in his hotel room, awaiting the blessed release of death. The dying man is discovered, and the hotel staff work frantically to revive him, but just as his eyes begin to glaze over, a smile appears on his face. He senses her presence, and we hear the haunting melody played on a solo violin.

Somehow I know
this moment's waiting.
Somewhere in time,
I'll go
where you wait for me.

The moment he passes over, a light forms through the window and there beyond time is Elise, dressed as she was on the night of the play, holding out her hand in welcome. His soul leaves his body and crosses the barrier between life and death, and we see Richard, dressed in his late 19th-Century suit, taking her hand. The music isn't mournful, it's joyful, because Richard and Elise will share eternity together.

Somewhere In Time - the CD Track Listing

  1. 'Somewhere In Time'
  2. 'The Old Woman'
  3. 'The Journey Back In Time'
  4. 'A Day Together'
  5. 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini' – piano solo by Chet Swiatkowski
  6. 'Is He The One?'
  7. 'The Man Of My Dreams'
  8. 'Return To The Present'
  9. 'Theme from Somewhere In Time' – performed by Roger Williams

Other Versions

Charismatic Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica (born 3 May, 1975) performed his ten minute version of 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini / Somewhere In Time' and released it on his 2003 album, The Piano Player.

Though only instrumental music is played throughout the film and soundtrack CD, some writers have been inspired by the film and added their words to the music. The resulting songs have been performed by artists such as Nonoy Zuñiga2 and Michael Crawford. There are many versions to watch and listen to at YouTube; most are made by devotees of the film, and include snapshots of Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour in their characters' costumes, and even clips from the film itself. Short verses and lines from the songs and poems have been interspersed between the paragraphs of this Entry as an example of what is available. Special mention must be made of Anthony Deaton's guitar version of 'Somewhere In Time' which he plays on two guitars, at the same time.

Cultural Reference

In the 1993 fantasy film Groundhog Day, Phil (Bill Murray) plays 'Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini' on stage to the astonished Rita (Andie MacDowell) in the audience.

1The author of Peter Pan, Sir JM Barrie, wrote The Little Minister for her.2This version is called 'Somewhere in Time (Love Never Goes)', and features on Nonoy's 1997 album, Pure and Golden Love Songs Vol 2.

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry

Edited Entry


Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry

Categorised In:

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more