Somewhere in Time movie locations
Producers of this romantic fantasy of time travel from 1912 to modern times were desperate to find a credible filming location. They needed an impressive resort hotel without modern visual intrusions. Grand Hotel owner Dan Musser let them shoot the film at the hotel for free in the early 1979 season. He anticipated that the excitement and publicity of shooting a film with Christopher Reeve (who had recently become famous as Superman) would pay for the inconvenience of working amidst paying guests. (The reputation of Reeve's British co-star Jane Seymour was not yet established.)
If time permits, Grand Hotel concierge and historian Bob Tagatz, stationed in the Parlor, can direct visitors to specific places where scenes were filmed. The Grand check-in desk - where in the movie Arthur, the old elevator operator, greets Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) in 1979 - is where many fans have an "ohmigosh! There it is!" experience. As a boy in 1912, Arthur had known the Jane Seymour character.
Many people just don't get it, even after seeing the movie. Even to them, however, the SIT cult can be an interesting cultural phenomenon having to do with romance - the idea of one true love across time, combined with a love of dressing up in period clothes from 1912; escapism (1912 wouldn't seem so wonderful if fans understood its tensions); the magic of Mackinac Island as a beautiful place that's real, not a stage set; and a large dose of fascination with celebrities, but on a very sincere note. Grand historian Bob Tagatz sums up its appeal succinctly: "Love transcends death. Time travel is the ultimate fantasy. Combining time travel to find your lost love is the ultimate fantasy."
To understand the SIT cult and something about the psychology of fandom, first get reviewer Bruce Eder's brief plot synopsis and overview of the film's cult appeal. Visit www.allmovieguide.com and search for Somewhere in Time. Briefly, a dying man falls in love with a portrait of a famous actress from the past. Obsessed, he tries hypnosis and manages to travel back in time and eventually meets her in 1912 on the shore road in front of the Grand Hotel. Then visit www.amazon.com and search for Bid Time Return, the novel on which SIT was based. Author Richard Matheson is better known for suspense, science fiction, and horror; Stephen King has said that Matheson influenced him most as a writer.
Then pay a brief (if possible) visit to two fan sites, the poignant Christopher Reeve Homepage ( www.christopherreevehomepage.com ) and the Jane Seymour Official Web Site ( www.friendsofjane.com ), searching for Somewhere in Time in each. Reeve said the male protagonist's commitment drew him to the script, and that the film set was the mellowest he'd ever experienced, suffused with some sort of romantic Mackinac magic.
Finally, visit www.somewhereintime.tv , the fan site developed by Jo Addie. She was already a movie buff when she finagled her way onto the set as an extra. Now, with her husband's help, she operates INSITE (International Network of Somewhere in Time Enthusiasts), a fan club, quarterly magazine, web site, and marketer of many, many keepsakes, trinkets, INSITE-produced videos and DVDs of INSITE reunions, and related products. Bypass the store. To do it, you have to really search for the one-line "official Somewhere in Time web site." Addie is a good writer with lots to say about the subject - 1,000 pages since 1990. (Only two other sites, she says, are devoted to a single movie, The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind.) Once on the site, see "Hall of History" and, under "Articles," see "Fascinating Facts," FAQs, and Addie's own story on the set, "Barely in Time: Confessions of a SIT Extra," with interesting production details and anecdotes about how friendly the stars were to extras, and incidents such as how Christopher Reeve took Jane Seymour and Jo Addie in his small plane for a day trip to Traverse City, against contract agreements. On the site you'll learn of the film's amazing 18-month run in Hong Kong theaters, its standing among China's ten top-grossing films, and its appeal to men (50% of INSITE members and 85% of foreign fan mail)- probably because it's told from the man's point of view.
Film producers first considered the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, where the book was set, but nixed it because of anachronistic modern details like aluminum window frames, antennas, and its own highrise hotel tower. They looked in Great American Hotels, currently out of print, and found out about the Grand Hotel.
Since 1990 enthusiasts have met at the Grand Hotel in October for the Somewhere in Time weekend - three days and two nights ($929/couple, $99 for an extra night). It's often sold out by May. There's a big-screen showing, a collectible sale, a walking tour of set locations with scene reenactments (each year one man shows up looking more like Christopher Reeve than the year before), a slide show of the movie being made, the centerpiece celebrity panel of people who worked on the movie followed by an autograph session, and a costume promenade. Having met thousands of fans, Jo Addie concludes, "I can characterize them in a few key phrases. . . . They have old-fashioned values, believe in true love and commitment, are romantic at heart, and sometimes feel displaced in our chaotic and violent world, and wish for a better one."
Film locations extend from the Grand Hotel throughout downtown to Mission Point, but most are at or near the Grand Hotel. Ask for a location map at the Chamber of Commerce kiosk opposite the Arnold Dock.
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POINTS OF INTEREST
Island hub by the Arnold Dock/ Main St. between Astor and Fort. The nexus of myriad useful things: an information kiosk, carriage tours, bike rentals, a grocery, a drug store, a visitor center ... more
Market Street, 1820s fur trade center. At the 1820s center of John Jacob Astor's Great Lakes fur trade, see period cooking and spinning in a French-Canadian house; a blacksmith shop; and the reconstructed store where the permanent hole in a voyageur's stomach led to understanding digestion ... more
Mackinac Island shops and amusements. Among downtown's souvenir, gift, and fudge shops are unusual businesses featuring good flying toys, a haunted house, magic and gags, artists creating expressionist landscapes and scrimshaw engravings, art and accessories, and good books. ... more
An eastside walk to Mission Point. A half-mile eastside walk to Mission Point passes lots of history, with stops at two of Michigan's oldest churches at Ste. Anne's and Mission churches and possibly the Mackinac Island Butterfly House. ... more
Ste. Anne's Catholic Church. The parish goes back to 1700 and before. Parishoners have included French-Canadian and Native American traders, Irish fishing families, and the late Senator Phil Hart, among others. It has a small museum and charming garden ... more
Somewhere in Time movie locations. Fans of this Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour cult classic can get a map and visit its filming locations. Hundreds come for October's SIT weekend; thousands are in its fan club. ... more