The celebrated heart surgeon Dr. Vrain supports the research of the offbeat scientist Aldo Gehring, who is inventing an artificial heart. Dr. Vrain performs the first artificial human heart... See full summary »



3 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dr. Thomas Vrain
Edgar Fine
Sharon Acker ...
Tilla Vrain
Carol Severance
Dr. Aldo Gehring
Henry De Vici
Julie Armstrong ...
Donna Clure
Jun Asahina ...
Japanese Technician
Steve Ballantine ...
Injured Motorcyclist
Ralph Benmergui ...
Mr. Orantes' Interpreter (as Ralph Benmurgui)
Richard Blackburn ...
Dr. Cutter
Lally Cadeau ...
Anita, Vrain's Secretary
Eric Clavering ...
Old Man in Recovery
James Douglas ...
Older Doctor in X-Ray Room (as James B. Douglas)
Nancy Downey ...


The celebrated heart surgeon Dr. Vrain supports the research of the offbeat scientist Aldo Gehring, who is inventing an artificial heart. Dr. Vrain performs the first artificial human heart transplant against the advice of the Ethics Committee. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In this surgeons hands, life has a new meaning.


Drama | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 January 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Herzchirurg Dr. Vrain  »

Box Office


CAD 5,700,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


Donald Sutherland and Jeff Goldblum previously appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978). See more »


Dr. Thomas Vrain: Carol? Carol? You're doing fine, you know that? You're doing just fine.
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User Reviews

An experience of great depth and humanity.
30 April 2010 | by (Nova Scotia, Canada) – See all my reviews

"Threshold" is a film with a very clear, heavy presence of reality. The trade-off of this, of course, is the same as all such realist films - pacing. This is not something you can watch for big thrills and the explosive energy of medical trauma. Richard Pearce, and his cinematographer, Michel Brault, create a world that looks and feels so human it's almost painful. Each successive scene is like a new revelation on light and colour and depth of field. Brault gets right into the action, the movement, the emotional expression. The most remarkable thing about James Salter's script is how it avoids all those common medical clichés and falsehoods so often employed in such stories. The three lead actors - Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, and Mare Winningham - are observed in an almost documentarian way. They are people of depth, but not in a way we commonly see in films. The characters in "Threshold" are not distant, no, but what we get from them depends on our power of perception. They are laid out in front of us in much the same way as each person we encounter in life. That's the great strength of Pearce's direction here (his next film, "Country", has a similar approach).

"Threshold" is mostly unknown, and not available on DVD. There is one main reason for this - it was a Canadian production, released at a time when such films weren't widely seen, and commonly forgotten soon after. I paid a significant amount to purchase the VHS online. I don't regret this, but the breathtaking cinematography deserves a modern format.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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