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Brainstorm (1983)

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 ... See full summary »

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(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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ON DISC
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Michael Brace
... Karen Brace
... Lillian Reynolds
... Alex Terson
... Gordy Forbes
... Landan Marks
... Robert Jenkins
Joe Dorsey ... Hal Abramson
Bill Morey ... James Zimbach
... Chris Brace
Darrell Larson ... Security Technician
... Chef
Stacey Kuhne-Adams ... Andrea
John Hugh ... Animal Lab Technician
... 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 Ultimate Experience See more »

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 September 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Gordon Forbes Tapes  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,196,965, 2 October 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Douglas Trumbull, MGM, which had financial troubles at the time, got cold feet about putting up the rest of the money to complete the film. "MGM's problem was that insurance institution Lloyd's of London, when it took depositions from me and other people, realized that the film could be finished. Why should they pay an insurance claim for something that really wasn't damaged goods?" When MGM refused to pay for the film to be completed, Lloyd's of London provided $2.75 million for Trumbull to complete principal photography and an additional $3.5 million towards post-production. Meanwhile, other studios showed interest in buying the film from MGM to release as their own production. "MGM decided to allow Lloyd's of London to offer the film to many of the major studios in town," said Trumbull. "Several of them made bids to MGM. And the studio suddenly realized that a lot of other people in this town were excited about 'Brainstorm', and were ready to put up millions of dollars. MGM figured they'd look like jerks if they let it go and it turned out to be a big success. So they finally decided to work out this deal where Lloyd's of London would put up the remaining money and become a profit participant." See more »

Goofs

The soldering iron that Dr. Reynolds accidentally burns her wrist on is a battery operated rechargeable model, and would not have been hot unless she had been holding it and pressing the button. 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.
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The Making of 'Event Horizon' (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

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