[This article contains spoilers for the 1980 film “Somewhere in Time.”]
How is it the movie “Somewhere in Time” has remained relevant 40 years after its release?
Is it the luscious cinematography? The gorgeous actors? The heartrending music? The beauty of The Grand Hotel?
I think it’s the story of a search for true love throughout time that makes “Somewhere in Time” perennial favorite. The movie is filled with powerful moments as Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) and Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour) find and lose each other, over and over again.
After all, Elise and Richard do unite after death, their love transcending the seemingly insurmountable forces of time and distance.
The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, one of the film’s settings, is perhaps second only to the Hotel del Coronado, in San Diego, as the most recognizable movie location. The elegant 397-room hotel, with its 660-foot regal front porch, is iconic from both the water and the land.
One advantage the Grand Hotel has over the Hotel del Coronado? The Grand Hotel’s grounds remain absent of any gas-powered vehicles, other than the island’s fire engine and ambulance. A horse-drawn carriage, bicycles, or walking are the only ways to get around. This keeps the mystique alive.
“The iconic hotel was the perfect character for the story,” Seymour, who plays Elise in the film, told me. “It exists in current time, but becomes another era easily.”
She also shared with me one of her favorite memories from the making of the film.
“Driving the carriage for [co-star Christopher Reeve] was interesting,” she said, “and the scene in the gazebo was classic.”
Even today, the Grand Hotel has many of the same characteristics as it did in the movie.
My friend, Debby Harrison, traveled with her mother to the Grand Hotel. Debby loved having the opportunity to watch “Somewhere in Time” in a room at The Grand Hotel. And felt as if she and her mother had taken a step back in time, on the Hotel’s grounds.
“The quiet of the area was very welcome,” Debby said. “One could sit quietly in rockers on the porch and watch people come and go, hearing only quiet conversation or birds singing.”
Built-in 1887, the Hotel’s grounds now include an 18-hole golf course, the majestic Esther Williams Swimming Pool, and several restaurants.
In addition to the hotel itself, there’s more to do on Mackinac Island. Catch a horse-drawn wagon for an island overview tour, or, like Jane Seymour, grab a buggy for yourself.
All of the activities on Lake Huron’s shores allow you to reconnect with your true love — or, perhaps, find them.
The 40th anniversary of “Somewhere in Time” is an ideal time to reflect on the film’s enduring themes of love and struggle. And it’s an even better time to do so at the film’s famous location: the timeless Grand Hotel.