6.5/10
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Brainstorm (1983)

Researchers develop a system where they can jump into people's minds. But when people involved bring their personal problems into the equation, it becomes dangerous - perhaps deadly.

Director:

Douglas Trumbull

Writers:

Bruce Joel Rubin (story), Robert Stitzel (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Walken ... Michael Brace
Natalie Wood ... Karen Brace
Louise Fletcher ... Lillian Reynolds
Cliff Robertson ... Alex Terson
Jordan Christopher ... Gordy Forbes
Donald Hotton ... Landan Marks
Alan Fudge ... Robert Jenkins
Joe Dorsey ... Hal Abramson
Bill Morey Bill Morey ... James Zimbach
Jason Lively ... Chris Brace
Darrell Larson ... Security Technician
Lou Walker ... Chef
Stacey Kuhne-Adams Stacey Kuhne-Adams ... Andrea
John Hugh John Hugh ... Animal Lab Technician
Ira David Wood III ... Barry (as David Wood)
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Storyline

Brilliant researchers Lillian Reynolds and Michael Brace have developed a system of recording and playing back actual experiences of people. Once the capability of tapping into "higher brain functions" is added in, and you can literally jump into someone else's head and play back recordings of what he or she was thinking, feeling, seeing, etc., at the time of the recording, the applications for the project quickly spiral out of control. While Michael Brace uses the system to become close again to Karen Brace, his estranged wife who also works on the project, others start abusing it for intense sexual experiences and other logical but morally questionable purposes. The government tries to kick Michael and Lillian off the project once the vast military potential of the technology is discovered. It soon becomes obvious that the government is interested in more than just missile guidance systems. The lab starts producing mind torture recordings and other psychosis inducing material. When ... Written by Eric van bezooijen <eric@webmethods.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The door to the mind is open! See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

If you looked carefully in theaters you could see that the "taped" scenes were just a bit wider on the screen and had more deeply saturated colors. The effect was subtle but enough to make those scenes distinct from the "real" scenes. See more »

Goofs

Several of the tapes play back from a third-person perspective, which would be impossible if the tapes were actually a person's recorded memory. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Dr. Lillian Reynolds: Can you see better if I move it a little closer?
Dr. Michael Anthony Brace: I can see something. It's parts of the grid, but it's still rotating. It's not locking up.
Hal Abramson: Maybe we all need a little break, Lillian.
Dr. Lillian Reynolds: Hal, you take a break.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the final credit has rolled, 'TO NATALIE' appears for a couple seconds See more »

Alternate Versions

In the psychotic episode sequence when Michael's (Christopher Walken) son Chris (Jason Lively) wears the headset, there's a slight difference between the 70mm version and 35mm version. In the 70mm version of Chris' hallucination when Michael turns on a lever sending presumably an electrical current to Chris' head, the camera cuts to and remains on a shot of a circular device with electricity running through it as we hear Michael say 'Now you're gonna find out it's mine!'. In the 35mm version, the shot arrangement is the same except that it cuts back to a close up of Michael saying the line 'Now you're gonna find out it's mine!'. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Video Violence (1987) See more »

User Reviews

 
About exploring experience, life, love, even death, from the point of view of others.
2 December 2003 | by budmasseySee all my reviews

Everyone knows this was Natalie Wood's last film, and that some of her scenes were filmed after her death with a stand-in you only see from behind. Director Donald Trumball, best known for his special effects work in Blade Runner, Close Enounters, and Star Trek, chose this time to build his story on plot and character development, a good choice given the enormous talent he had to work with. Trumball's battle with studio execs to finish the film after Wood's death, rather than claim the insurance proceeds and call the film off, ended his career in Hollywood, but assured that this gem would not be lost. It is somewhat ironic that Natalie's swan song should be a sci-fi movie, since she was hardly known for work in the genre, but she brings a grace and charm, as well as depth and beauty, to the genre that is usually lacking.

Most sci-fi films based on technology don't age well, and there are times where this is no exception. The idea of recording on tape, let alone making tape loops, must seem like wax cylinder recordings to today's MP3 generation. The tapes themselves were props borrowed from a film being shot nearby, and that film was itself a dismal failure. But the concept is timeless, and so well done that, all in all, the film still works as well as it did in 1983.

Lesser screenplays would have been content with the main story line; scientists invent a way to record brainwaves and play them back for a real life out of body experience, and for just such a stinker, check out Strange Days. But then along comes the incomparable, utterly fabulous Louise Fletcher, who, as one of the co-inventors of the aforementioned device, records her death when she suffers a heart attack while working late one night. For the rest of the film, people are either trying to play the tape or prevent others from playing it. Meanwhile, the technology gets hijacked by two-dimensional government lackeys trying to exploit the weapons potential of the invention.

One can easily pick out scenes of this movie to vilify or exalt, all these years later, and any object viewed over time eventually has a vanishing point. The almost slapstick scene where the assembly robots go berserk is one example of a scene that, while consistent with its contemporaries, is silly today. The death scene, though much maligned, is equally misunderstood, and provides the metaphysical underpinnings that elevate Brainstorm above mere gadget flicks. Brainstorm is about exploring experience, life, love, even death, from the point of view of others, and Academy Award winner Louise Fletcher allows us to do so through her consummate skill in presenting a death scene of sufficient awe and wonder to warrant exploration.

If you want to find out what else happens, watch the film, but when you do, don't ignore the beautiful, delicate interplay between Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood. Their careening relationship seems somehow tied to the invention they helped make, and there are sequences so beautiful that I sometimes take out the DVD just to marvel at them.

Despite changing styles in special effects, this is a timeless and beautiful story that transcends the genre and, with Walken, Wood and Fletcher, becomes more than just a story about shiny gold tapes that record brain waves. It's more about immovable objects and irresistible forces and what happens when they collide. Intrigued? Good. Go watch it.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 September 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gordon Forbes Tapes See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,196,965, 2 October 1983

Gross USA:

$10,219,460

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,219,460
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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