With a plethora of classic films being remastered in the 4K format – Jumanji, Schindler’s List, Step Brothers, The Matrix, and E.T. to name a few – there is one film I would like to make a case for being the next cult classic to be remastered in the 4K format: Somewhere in Time.
Somewhere in Time, released in 1980, stars Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. Jeannot Szwarc directed the film and it is based on the novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson (whom also gets the screenwriting credit). It tells the tale of a struggling Chicago playwright fascinated with a stunning picture of an actress from 1912 at the Grand Hotel.
This film is one that has endured so much during its history. After becoming a U.S. box office flop due to the actors’ inability to promote the film because of the Screen Actor’s Guild being on strike during its opening weekend (although it performed quite well in Asia), it has gained a hardcore fan following and has ultimately become a cult classic. It is often described as a romantic period film for the ages that transcends time and space and is considered one of Reeve’s best films not having Superman in the title.
Shot at Mackinac Island in Michigan, Somewhere in Time features such a beautiful real life setting. With all of the hardcore fans of the film visiting the island and capturing the shooting locations on camera – not to mention the annual celebration of the film held each year on the island – there is clearly an audience for it (did I forget to mention INSITE, the International Network of Somewhere in Time Enthusiasts?). Plus, imagine seeing the luxurious hotel with the flowing water in the foreground, especially the scenes that take place in 1912. So much detail and attention went into bringing that era to life accurately and seeing that being enriched and enhanced to a level of realism beyond the wildest dreams of Szwarc, the cast, and crew would do a great justice to their work as well.
One holdup with older films like this one is the film grain – despite my liking of it. Sometimes it can be extremely difficult to transfer an HD quality picture into a UHD quality picture and make it feel natural if the film was released nearly 40 years ago. If you think about it, Somewhere in Time has already undergone a picture quality transfer from the original version shot on 35mm film into HD for the DVD release.
As for the audio aspect, that is another unknown in regards to restoration. Most 4K films being released today are in the Dolby Atmos or DTS:X format, which caters more towards higher-end surround sound that utilizes ceiling speakers and more speaker channels in general in order to provide the best and immersive home theater experience. Composer John Barry did an incredible job crafting an iconic musical score for the film and the idea of upgrading the audio format for his soundtrack could potentially become the best aspect of the 4K version if released.
The most likely scenario for bringing it to life would be akin to the 4K transfer of E.T. With Spielberg’s classic, the picture transfer was not a night-and-day difference. E.T. has a more subtle HDR (high dynamic range) usage to naturally enhance the film’s color, contrast, and detail without it becoming distracting. Because of this, it still retains the nostalgic feel from the ‘80s and is still enhanced to feel more real and make the viewer experience more surreal and enjoyable. It is a win-win scenario for both sides (and likely doesn’t cost the studio as much money to produce). I believe Somewhere in Time could truly benefit from a similar situation and make Universal Studios a good profit.
It only seems right to produce a 4K restoration of Somewhere in Time. The time has come to release a higher quality version of a film that transcends time and space both in the film and in real life. The film garnered Oscars, Golden Globes, and Saturn Award nominations and awards and even spawned a novel years later from writer and fan of the film, David L. Gurnee, titled Memoirs of Elise.
If it is produced and released, perhaps we can even get some deleted scenes, or dare I say, an extended / director’s cut of the film? Either way, Somewhere in Time is a worthy film for a 4K version. One thing is for sure: they would have my money.