"Brainstorm" is a great movie! Cool ideas, good execution, good writing, and acting. Buy it, rent it, experience it yourself.
Christopher Walken is working on a project that can actually record a persons experiences onto (shiny 2-inch mylar) tape. Then, another person can "playback" these experience. The possibilities are endless! But what the creative scientists see as a new way to learn and communicate, the wicked ole defense contractors and their government sponsors see as a tremendous weapon. They get their own hack scientist assigned to the project, and he, slowly, insidiously, takes over.
But, before that comes to pass though, the lead scientist, a female chain-smoking, type-A personality (Louise Fletcher) succumbs to her abusive lifestyle. Working late in the lab, she has a heart attack. After a cursory effort to call for help, she does the next best thing (at least if you're a driven scientist). She hooks herself up to the machine so the experience of her dying can be recorded. Hard data on the hereafter!
Walken picks up the baton of obsession in this relay race of scientific pursuit. He wants to play back her dying tape. He starts to, but the plug gets pulled too soon! The experience was traumatic enough for a trip to hospital. The government lackeys have seen enough by this point. They try to lock Walken out of his own project.
What follows kept me riveted to the screen. There is some great robotic slapstick moments, when Walken cracks his way, via modem and home computer, into the mainframe that controls the assembly lines. Does he succeed? Does he find what waits for us after we leave our meat bodies behind? And what effect might that have? Check it out!
Also starring Cliff Robertson and Natalie Wood. Wood died before the film was finished.
MGM/UA Home Video, 1983
Directed by Douglass Trumbull
Here is the TEXT POPUP for Brainstorm:
This movie was the final screen appearance of Natalie Wood. Her untimely death occurred near the end of the movie's production.
This movie was directed by Douglass Trumbull. Trumbull was responsible for the special effects in "2001: A Space Odyssey," "Blade Runner," and "Silent Running."
One interesting train of thought explored in this movie was the possible impact of Sex in Virtual Reality. One of the early explorers made a recorded a sexual tryst in the lab. Another team member, an older, kind of wash-out marketing guy, did a little creative editing. He made an endless loop of the moment of climax, went home with a portable playback unit and plugged himself in for a little party.
When they found him the next morning, grinning, twitching, completely unresponsive to the outside world, they naturally pulled the plug. This roused him. He was begging like crack junkie, begging to plugged back in.
The interesting thing here was the longer term effect. The old guy was revitalized, was once again fascinated with life. He blossomed. Go figure. I'm not sure what the sexual politics ramifications of this thread are, but it sure made for an involving movie...