It's the late 1960's. Just for a lark, graduate student Eddie Jessup, known for being unconventional, brilliant and slightly mad, conducts experiments with an isolation chamber, using himself as the subject. His experiences in the chamber cause him to hallucinate, much of the imagery being religious-based despite he not being a religious man. Seven years later, he is a respected full professor in the Harvard Medical School. Believing he has lost his edge and has fallen into an unwanted state of respectability, Eddie decides to resume his work with sensory deprivation, this time using hallucinogens, specifically untested ones used in mystical Mexican rituals, to enhance the experience of being in the isolation tank. After initial tests, he claims he entered an alternate physical and mental state. Although unbelieving of Eddie's claims, his colleagues Arthur Rosenberg and Mason Parrish, as well as Eddie's wife, Emily, who is in her own right a respected academic, are concerned for ... Written by
The film's themes and meaning has oft been debated with many interpretations being put forward such that it's the Orpheus and Eurydice myth; that it's the Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde yarn; that it's really the story Mary and Jesus. The film's writer Paddy Chayefsky once revealed in an interview that "Altered States" was actually really a love story. See more »
During the party scene right before Eddie arrives, Arthur is getting ice from the bathtub and the toilet seat is up. But a moment later in the next scene, the toilet seat is down. See more »
He doesn't love me. He never loved me. I was never real to him. Nothing in the human experience is real to him.
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If you are a thinker now, or grew up looking up at the stars and trying to figure out how the universe could just go on and on forever, this film is for you.
If you like boundaries, and the familiar you will not understand why this film was made, or why this film was made the way it was.
Chayefsky's material is brilliant, and challenging. Russell's approach is startling; more like abstract expressionism than any kind of realism. The performances, especially by Blair Brown and William Hurt are raw and completely authentic.
From start to finish, this film is fascinating, original and consistently realized.
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