Somewhere In Time FAQ

By Jo Addie

We've been asked for the text of Elise's soliloquy so many times, we've decided to include it here. The following is a transcript of the speech as it appears in the film.

"The man of my dreams . . . "

The three most frequently asked questions:

  • Where can I buy the original Somewhere In Time videotape?
  • Where can I buy the book, "Somewhere In Time" (originally published as "Bid Time Return") by Richard Matheson?
  • Where can I buy the soundtrack recording?

Visit the Somewhere In Time Gallery to purchase 

all of the above!


I've been wanting to write this article for a long time, having perceived a need to clear up several questions I personally have been asked regarding Somewhere In Time. They also come up at each SIT Weekend. They've all been good questions, and though our favorite love story is well presented, and fans watch it over and over again, they continue to puzzle over a few points. I have come to these opinions, not just on my own, but through firsthand conversations I had the pleasure of having with crew and cast during filming. Perhaps I can offer these thoughts and enhance your appreciation for the story.

*Is William Fawcett Robinson clairvoyant?

Not at all. Of course, Elise believes he is, because he has made her believe so. He is good at manipulating people and events in Elise's life--what sort of manager would he be if he couldn't? However, we find some clues in the story giving evidence he truly lacks this skill. Robinson has told Elise, probably since she was in her late teen years, someday she "is going to meet a man who will change (he means ruin) her life". This proves to be a powerful tool of control over her. With each man she meets in whom she might be interested in knowing further, she wonders if he's the one. Since he's usually already dispatched the fellow with threatening words, it hardly becomes an issue. When Elise, seated at her dressing table, asks him if Richard is the one, Robinson calmly replies, "Only you can tell, for certain." And in so doing, Elise is on her own to discern if the worrisome prophecy Robinson has made pertains to this most persistent, attractive young suitor. His answer is ominous, frightening: If she IS attracted to him, she is embarking upon the road to disaster, he implies, and she feels undeniable fear.

In the book, "Bid Time Return", we get more details. We learn that a gypsy's daughter Elise knows has predicted she will meet a man on a beach, and previous to that an Indian woman predicted that she'll meet a man under strange circumstances in November when she is 29 (the month the book is set and this is her age in the book) and she remembers and is pondering this as she walks the shore. When she turns to see Richard this prompts the peculiar question, "Is it you?" In the book, we also discover that when Richard researches Elise's life history, he finds that Robinson died on the Lusitania (a true life fact of Maude Adam's manager Charles Frohman) But if W. F. Robinson was clairvoyant, he'd hardly have sailed on that ship! Robinson has high expectations and goals for Elise, based upon her innate talent and his careful developing and molding of same, and he certainly doesn't want her to fall in love and leave the theatre. He'd be mortified to see her career lose first place in her life. He has everything to lose--a long-time investment --and he guards that jealously. His technique of using his supposed clairvoyance to keep men away from Elise is exposed in the dressing room scene when she finally catches him in the falsehood, "then he isn't the one you spoke of", "then you were wrong about him, weren't you?", and he has nothing to say in retort. She has plans with Richard and intends to carry them out, "and he's going to make me very happy." As he leaves the room and descends the stairs, he he is a broken man--he will never again have the control over Elise he so earnestly worked to possess.

*Does Richard have a past life? Is this story about reincarnation?

No. This is a story of The Ultimate True Love. It's the story of the perfect match for each partner, a love that is so powerful and dynamic that it breaks the barrier of time that separates them. We think of SIT as being Richard's story, and it is that, told entirely from his point of view. (That's why men relate to the movie) But the most pertinent clues to the story that most people miss are the subtle clues we learn about Elise from her soliloquy on the stage. This is the key scene, to me. When Elise improvises her own words on stage, we find there is far more dimension to this story than meets the casual eye. She says, "The man of my dreams is almost faded now"..."the one I've created in my mind...The man each woman dreams of in the deepest reaches of her heart." We find Elise has been forming her dream man--the perfect man for her--in her mind, perhaps for years, and this man just happens to be Richard Collier. The dream is fading because now it is finally reality. We think that Richard has been doing all the reaching back into the past to meet his Elise, but she has initiated it all--she has longed for this ultimate partner in love so profoundly she literally pulls him out of the future to be with her! Even though he hasn't been born yet. Now that he is with her, she recognizes him to be her dream man, and he has caused her to feel what she has never felt before...

*Why does Richard not know what to do in 1912 if he's been there before?

This is a hard one to explain, so here goes....When Richard tries in vain to make it into the past, and nearly gives up, he finds his name in the register--and fully realizes what the elderly Elise meant when she said, "Come back to me". Now he is successful because he knows it has to be. It has happened for Elise, but it hasn't happened for him, in his consciousness--yet. What do I mean? Well, try to think of it this way. Say the day that Richard meets Elise by the trees he turns 28. That's an ordained fact. When he first meets elderly Elise, he's just produced his first college play, and is only 20 years old. Then, eight years later, just before his 28th birthday, he is a successful playwright, but unhappy, unfulfilled, and lonely. He's never found his special woman. He carries that watch with him always, just as she did. He leaves his home for a trip, and on a whim he decides to stay at the hotel. He checks in the day before his birthday. Wandering around to pass the time, he steps into the Hall of History. He peruses the displays, and then he feels it. He "feels" the gaze of Elise from her portrait even before he sees it. She's "calling" to him. We find out later why...the portrait was taken while she was looking at him with love. He can't eat or sleep, you know the rest, until the day he turns 28 and wills himself back to 1912 successfully. So in his own lifetime, he's experiencing it for the first time, though the "history" of his visit has been recorded already, in advance. That's why he doesn't know where to find her, he doesn't know what to say when she asks where he got the watch. He feels he can be with her forever, but when the penny breaks "the spell" and sends him back to his time, he realizes that was all there was--and she spent the rest of her life looking for him. Knowing he cannot change this, and cannot be with her in his time, he wills himself to die. (In director Jeannot Szwarc's words, he dies of love) Now they can be together, Somewhere In Time.

There are several key differences in the book to the movie, and the changes made left some details (like the gypsy's tale) out. The book is far more tragic. Richard is dying of a brain tumor from the first page--the purpose of his trip is to experience whatever life will present until it's over. Elise was asleep when Richard found the penny that zotched him away from her--she did not see him go. Imagine--they made love all night and in the morning she awakened to find him gone--it appears as if he walked out on her! She never again found him, and died without the ultimate pleasure of discovering from whence he came.

*Where does the watch begin?

The watch has a beginning in the book--Elise gives a new pocket watch to Richard as a gift, engraved with an inscription that includes both their names, and he brings it back with him to the present. He never again speaks while clutching it constantly until he dies of his brain tumor. In the foreword, his brother explains he is publishing Richard's notes as he found them--the playwright's last work-in-progress. He says at the end he will never go to the Hotel to see if Richard's name is really in the register from the past, in case it isn't there and was all a "hallucination". He'd like to believe it really happened, that Richard found his Elise, and that they are together Somewhere In Time.

At the first Somewhere In Time Weekend at Grand Hotel in '91, Richard Matheson was asked this question, and gave the following answer. At one of the early meetings over script changes, he tossed out the idea of the elderly Elise showing up to give him the watch, and as soon as he said it, he realized that it would cause a loop, that it would have no beginning. But it was too late, the others loved the idea, he couldn't retract it and it was in to stay. It became a gag of sorts even during filming, I remember vividly, with Jeannot wearing a T-shirt that read, "Ask me about the watch" and Richard wearing one that read, "What watch?". At the weekend in '93, Jeannot was asked the same question, and his reply was that they were all aware of the watch having no beginning, and that the conclusion of the matter was, the watch is in a time loop of it's own.

*Did Richard dream it, or did it really happen?

It would be an unsatisfying story if it was all in his mind, wouldn't you agree? Remember, the portrait was taken with her gazing at him. As an old woman she found him and recognized him to be her Richard--he looks a tad younger, but he has the same name, and writes plays. That is why she runs her hand over his name on the program while she sits looking out at the lighthouse.

The book is a wonderful story, and rich with detail, (the description of their love scene will surprise you if you've only seen the film) but it is my opinion that Richard Matheson greatly improved upon it with his screenplay. I don't think there's any doubt about that. He changed the date of the past from 1896 to 1912 so that he could have a character alive in both times, Arthur. (And aren't we glad about that?) This added a warm touch, and it also gave further proof that the travel really took place, that he didn't dream the whole thing, because Arthur remembered him, his voice and mannerisms. And when Richard is zotched back to the present, he finds himself in Elise's room, 117, and he has to rush back to his own room, to try to attempt to get back.

Even though Elise's life ultimately DOES change because of Richard's appearance and subsequent disappearance, it is rather a coincidence that Robinson's prediction came to be true. In a way, her life was ruined, but she also found true love, and it carried her through her entire life. At least she saw him go, and she was thus convinced he came from another time. She read time travel books to become more familiar with the concept. The rest of her life she could search for him in hopes of finding her true love once more. Before she dies, she is able to set in motion events that will lead him to the moment in his life when he will find her portrait and experience in his own consciousness the connection to his true love, his ultimate partner.

I believe that realizing these points will deepen your understanding for this beautiful story of the perfect match in movies, Elise McKenna and Richard Collier, a couple who surmounted the time barrier between them once, and ultimately eliminated the obstacle to be together once more. It is a truly satisfying story of true love, and one to be enjoyed more each time you view it. We have Richard Matheson to thank for it, and Stephen Deutsch and Jeannot Szwarc for bringing it to the screen. A cinematic treasure . . .