Brainstorm (1983) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • 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 one of the researchers dies and tapes the experience of death, Michael is convinced that he must playback this tape to honor the memory of the researcher and to become enlightened. When another researcher dies during playback the tape is locked away and Michael has to fight against his former colleagues and the government lackeys that now run his lab in order to play back and confront the "scariest thing any of us will ever face" - death itself.

  • Alex Terson is head of the scientific research organization, Research for a Better Tomorrow, where soon to be divorced Dr. Michael Brace and Karen Brace both work. Michael and his colleague Dr. Lillian Reynolds, the lead researchers, have just had a breakthrough on their now ten year old project, Triad, where they can transfer senses - touch, smell, taste, sight and sound - experienced by one person to another via transfer of brainwaves. They can record the brainwaves for later use. The next step in the project is to create a more user friendly apparatus instead of the now bulky and heavy headgear required, Karen who is assigned head of the design team. But as Michael and Lillian work more on the project, they learn that they can also transfer emotional experiences from person to person. The industrial military complex is ultimately able to hijack the project from Michael and Lillian with Alex's seeming blessing, the military who wants to use it for purposes not part of the original vision that Lillian, Michael and Alex had. That new military vision includes brainwashing and torture. The project team, led by Michael and Karen, try to sabotage the work of the military before Michael and Lillian's work can be used for these less than ethical purposes.

  • A research scientist has been experimenting with a revolutionary brain-reading device. This wondrous machine is able to read a person's thought processes and translate these to videotape. When the scientist wants to study the brainwaves of his late partner, he finds himself seriously at odds with his superiors-not to mention several ominous-looking government types.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • DOUGLAS TRUMBALL (of 2001: a space odyssey, Special Effects fame,) directs this 70MM Dolby Stereo Sci-Fi classic. A Team of Scientists, work on a machine that records and plays back the primary 5 senses. At first, it is just bulky 'entertainment.' During its miniturization, the Military Implications, outweigh the entertainment function, and while the scientists balk at the military takeover of their project; they can't help but continue following their curiosity, until one of the scientists suffers a fatal heart attack, while recording it on the machine. The military develops a mental torture aspect, and the remaining scientist use the device to try to patch things up in their already tortured relationship...Who will get final control of Brainstorm?

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