Brainstorm (1983)

PG | 107 mins | Drama, Science fiction | 30 September 1983

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HISTORY

End credits include the statements: "Filmed on location in North Carolina through the assistance of Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.; North Carolina Film Commission; Research Triangle Foundation; Burroughs Wellcome Company; Wright Brothers National Memorial; Duke University; Pinehurst Hotel and Country Club; Sandy Lane Farm;" "'The Tonight Show' excerpts courtesy of Carson Productions, Inc.;" "Flight simulator courtesy of Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division."
       Writer Bruce Joel Rubin stated in his book Jacob’s Ladder that Brainstorm was based on his original screenplay, titled The George Dunlap Tape. Rubin was credited onscreen with writing the story from which the final screenplay was adapted.
       The 25 Nov 1980 DV announced that principal photography would begin Jun 1981, entirely on location in NC, for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M). Producer-director Douglas Trumbull did some preliminary work at Paramount Pictures, using the company’s “Futurex” process. John Foreman was reported to be the film’s producer at the time, although he is not credited onscreen. An article in the 17 Dec 1980 Var highlighted the new “Show-Scan” process, to be used in Brainstorm. The budget for the production was estimated at $16 million. Trumbull explained to the 28 Sep 1981 DV that the process would enable an exposure of sixty frames per second, more than double the standard twenty-four frames, resulting in a three-dimensional “feeling.” An experimental version of the system was installed at the National theaters in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, CA. The director estimated that special effects production for Brainstorm would require six months and $2 million to complete.
       The casting ... More Less

End credits include the statements: "Filmed on location in North Carolina through the assistance of Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.; North Carolina Film Commission; Research Triangle Foundation; Burroughs Wellcome Company; Wright Brothers National Memorial; Duke University; Pinehurst Hotel and Country Club; Sandy Lane Farm;" "'The Tonight Show' excerpts courtesy of Carson Productions, Inc.;" "Flight simulator courtesy of Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division."
       Writer Bruce Joel Rubin stated in his book Jacob’s Ladder that Brainstorm was based on his original screenplay, titled The George Dunlap Tape. Rubin was credited onscreen with writing the story from which the final screenplay was adapted.
       The 25 Nov 1980 DV announced that principal photography would begin Jun 1981, entirely on location in NC, for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (M-G-M). Producer-director Douglas Trumbull did some preliminary work at Paramount Pictures, using the company’s “Futurex” process. John Foreman was reported to be the film’s producer at the time, although he is not credited onscreen. An article in the 17 Dec 1980 Var highlighted the new “Show-Scan” process, to be used in Brainstorm. The budget for the production was estimated at $16 million. Trumbull explained to the 28 Sep 1981 DV that the process would enable an exposure of sixty frames per second, more than double the standard twenty-four frames, resulting in a three-dimensional “feeling.” An experimental version of the system was installed at the National theaters in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, CA. The director estimated that special effects production for Brainstorm would require six months and $2 million to complete.
       The casting of actor Cliff Robertson was the subject of an article in the 17 Jul 1981 LAT. In 1978, Robertson implicated Columbia Pictures president David Begelman in a check-forging scandal, which led to Begelman’s resignation from the studio. Robertson had not appeared in a major-studio film since, although Begelman went on to become president of M-G-M. The executive planned to personally announce Robertson’s casting, as proof that there were “no lingering hard feelings.” The article added that principal photography was rescheduled for Sep 1981, which was confirmed by a news item in the 5 Aug 1981 Var. Locations were identified as NC’s “Raleigh-Research Triangle area,” comprised of the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. The Apr 1982 Box included the town of Southern Pines, NC, and the state’s Outer Banks region as locations.
       The 19 Sep 1981 Box announced 31 Aug 1981 as the start of principal photography. The production was projected to contribute $5 million to NC’s economy and provide work for approximately one hundred actors and crewmembers. According to the article, production was originally planned for Jun 1981, with actresses Glenda Jackson and Kate Jackson in the roles of “Lillian Reynolds” and “Karen Brace,” respectively. However, the 19 Oct 1981 Box stated that “negotiations with both actresses fell through,” and they were replaced by Louise Fletcher and Natalie Wood, in the respective roles. Location filming was scheduled for six weeks in “Research Triangle,” and two weeks in Pinehurst, NC. Production notes from AMPAS library files stated that principal photography ultimately began 28 Sep 1981. Five days prior, on 23 Sep 1981, NC governor James B. Hunt, Jr., was joined at his weekly press conference by actors Fletcher, Wood, Robertson, and Christopher Walken. Hunt told the 7 Oct 1981 Var that this was “the most highly attended press conference” of his political career to date.
       The 10 Nov 1981 DV reported that actors Fletcher, Wood, Walken, and Robertson performed a scene in a mirrored set on M-G-M Stage 20 in Culver City, CA, with the camera hidden behind a two-way mirror, making it invisible to the players. Wood compared the experience to working in live television. In the 13 Sep 1983 LAT, Fletcher recalled that it took three days to film the scene in which her character has a heart attack. She prepared by interviewing several heart-attack victims, the majority of whom were physicians she met through her brother, an employee of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Fletcher also admitted that she accepted the role for less than her standard pay rate, because of her desire to work with Trumbull and her friendship with Wood.
       On 1 Dec 1981, DV announced that Brainstorm might possibly be “scrapped,” following the drowning death of Natalie Wood on 29 Nov 1981. The actress was to be featured in three major sequences in the final two weeks of photography. The 1 Dec 1981 LAT reported that M-G-M suspended production, placing its $12.5 million investment in limbo. While Trumbull and Foreman were confident that the picture could be completed without Wood, studio executives were reportedly pessimistic, primarily because several close-up shots were planned for the actress that could not be accomplished with a look-alike. Photography in NC was completed at the end of Oct 1981, and resumed in Culver City early the following month, with a scheduled completion date of 16 Dec 1981. A Christmas 1982 opening was planned, providing there were no further delays in filming. A 4 Dec 1984 LAT article stated that M-G-M was attempting to squelch rumors of a connection between the film’s subject matter and Wood’s death, particularly a story released by United Press International (UPI), which drew a “macabre parallel” between the film and the actress’s drowning. Storywriter Rubin described the narrative as having only a “resonance” with Wood’s death, but refused to go into any detail. M-G-M reportedly intended to file a claim on its $10 million cast insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London, brokered by the firm of Bayley, Martin & Fay, although there was no indication as to whether or not the picture would be completed. In the 2 Dec 1981 NYT, M-G-M executive David Chasman discussed the five remaining scenes featuring Wood’s character, and specified only two for which the actress was absolutely necessary. Chasman asserted that the scenes, which took place in a hotel room, “set up the entire third act of the movie.” A news item in the 7 Dec 1981 HR reported that a decision was anticipated that day.
       In the 9 Dec 1981 Var, M-G-M attorney Frank Rothman stated that the insurance policy was for a considerably higher amount than the studio’s current investment, and that a decision on the film was delayed because several M-G-M executives were close to Wood and were mourning her death. The article quoted a dispatch from the London Daily Telegraph, which speculated that the projected $12 million claim would be the highest ever paid by Lloyd’s on a motion picture.
       On 23 Dec 1981, LAT announced that filming would not resume, pending an investigation by insurance broker Bayley, Martin & Fay. M-G-M, which had not yet set a dollar amount on its claim, had a primary cast insurance policy with a $5 million limit from Lloyd’s of London, as well as a $10 million policy with Pacific Indemnity Company. The latest estimate of M-G-M’s investment to date in the film was $10 million, plus an anticipated $2.5 million to complete principal photography. Director Trumbull opposed any plans to discontinue production and reportedly “outlined for insurance carriers” his plan to complete the film. An unnamed source speculated that M-G-M’s intention to discontinue Brainstorm stemmed from the disappointing box office performance of several of the studio’s recent releases, and an insurance claim appeared to be an efficient way to recover its investment. Negotiations between the studio and insurance carriers continued for several weeks, as reported in the 7 Jan 1982 LAHExam. The 26 Jan 1982 DV announced that an agreement was reached between the parties, and nineteen days of additional photography were scheduled to begin 8 Feb 1982. No additional footage of Wood’s character, using a double or stand-in, was planned. That same day, LAT stated that only Lloyd’s of London was involved in the negotiations, and that the studio and the insurer would hold a press conference the following day. Trumbull told the 27 Jan 1982 HR that completion of the film would be accomplished by “adjusting the relationships between a few of the characters.” He added that Wood “finished most of her critical scenes” during the last week of Nov 1981. Filming would take place on three stages at M-G-M Studios, Stages 12, 20, and 29, according to the 10 Feb 1982 HR, and offices in the Thalberg Building, according to the 22 Feb 1982 DV , and would include principal actors Walken and Robertson, as well as “95%” of the original crew. Lloyd’s supplied the $3 million needed for completion. The 27 Jan 1982 LAT quoted M-G-M chairman Frank Rosenfelt’s description of the film as “fatally flawed,” even though neither he nor any other studio executives had seen it. The article speculated that M-G-M would likely reject the finished product and sell it to another studio. There were also the possibilities that M-G-M would agree to release the film, or that both Lloyd’s and the studio would reject it and sell it to a third party at a fifty percent loss.
       The 8 Feb 1982 DV announced the resumption of photography. Changes in the script included a scene in which actor Joe Dorsey performed in Wood’s place, and the removal of a drowning scene featuring actor Jason Lively. A scene featuring Wood and Walken canoeing on a lake was also removed, according to the 23 Sep 1983 LAT. LAHExam estimated the projected cost of the production at $17 million, including $1 million in “shutdown expenses.” At the time of the article, forty-seven days of the original sixty-day shooting schedule had been completed, thirty-five of which included Wood’s participation.
       The 10 Feb 1982 DV noted the absence of producer John Foreman from the reunited cast and crew, but received no comment from either Foreman or Trumball. Also of note was the absence of anyone representing M-G-M when the results of the first day’s photography were screened. Trumbull, director of photography Richard Yuricich and executive producer Joel L. Freedman were reportedly satisfied with the rushes. The news item also mentioned the presence on set of a collection of human brains, preserved in jars of formaldehyde, provided by a NC surgical supply company. Other properties included four industrial robots, supplied by Asea Inc., according to the 24 Feb 1982 Var.
       The 8 Mar 1982 DV announced the completion of principal photography the previous day. Trumbull received an additional $100,000 to add a temporary soundtrack to the “rough cut” of the film, for a screening at M-G-M the following month, after which the studio would determine whether or not to release it. The wrap party was held at the Los Angeles, CA, Playboy Club on 7 Mar 1982. A clip of the film was included in a tribute to Wood on 31 Mar 1982 at the Century Plaza theater in Los Angeles, CA, as part of AFI’s Filmex festival, according to the 12 Mar 1982 LAT.
       Trumbull told the 16 Apr 1982 DV that Watkins and Lloyd’s of London attorney Lee Lipscomb were “very happy” with the director’s preliminary edit. He also admitted that he has received no salary since production was halted in Nov 1981, and planned to renegotiate his contract with M-G-M if the studio intended to release the film. The anticipated six months of post-production would take place at Trumbull’s company, Entertainment Effects Group. The 20 Apr 1982 LAHExam reported that M-G-M executives Rosenfelt, Begelman, Rothman, and Paula Weinstein walked out of the 16 Apr 1982 screening without viewing the film, in reaction to a list, prepared by the director, which described sixty-two scenes involving special effects or second-unit photography, accompanied by a budget. Trumball planned a press conference for 22 Apr 1982 to defend his position. M-G-M took possession of the film until Lloyd’s agreed to finance the outstanding scenes. In the 20 Apr 1982 DV, Rosenfelt explained his objection to Trumbull’s perceived deception, using the example of one second-unit scene that was set in an amusement park, and its potential complications. He went on to say that, regardless of the outcome, M-G-M would file a claim with Lloyd’s, either to recover losses from the death of Natalie Wood, or to recover the entire cost of production if the studio were to reject the film.
       On 23 Apr 1982, HR reported that major studios and other “third parties” were approaching Trumbull concerning Brainstorm, but M-G-M would not allow the film to be screened. The director cancelled the previous day’s press conference, but was willing to offer a statement “to anyone who will listen.” He described the current delay in production as the result of a “stalemate between M-G-M and its insurer,” and also suggested that the studio was stalling the production until it received revenues from its summer releases. Rosenfelt disputed the statement with the fact that M-G-M had five films in production at the time. He added that the studio was not opposed to the film being completed and released elsewhere, as long as M-G-M was compensated for its losses.
       According to the 28 Apr 1982 Var, both sides of the dispute claimed that the other was responsible for financing the additional second-unit footage. Trumbull was said to have hand-delivered a letter to Rosenfelt in which Lloyd’s argued the point, though the executive insisted that he did not receive the document. The director also disputed Rosenfelt’s claim that a final scene was needed due to Wood’s absence, as the picture was made out of sequence and the scene was completed weeks before the actress’ death. He added that daily reports on the film’s progress were delivered to the vice-president in charge of on-lot production, proving that studio management knew exactly what scenes had been filmed. Trumbull asserted in the 4 Jun 1982 DV that Lloyd’s financial responsibility was limited to completing the film to the point that the actors and sets would be released from the production.
       A news item in the 14 May 1982 LAHExam reported that representatives of Embassy Pictures attended a private screenings of Brainstorm at the M-G-M lot, and indicated that this was one of several screenings for prospective buyers. Four weeks later, M-G-M invited representatives of Warner Bros. Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Paramount to view the film, as reported in the 16 Jun 1982 Var, but, according to the 23 Jun 1982 HR, only Paramount made an offer.
       In the 23 Sep 1983 LAT, Trumbull later recalled that studio executives originally walked out of the 16 Apr 1983 screening because the director allowed agents from Lloyd’s and members of the crew to view the film beforehand. He also stated that several studios, in addition to Paramount, made “major multimillion-dollar offers” for the picture, which convinced M-G-M of its commercial potential, and brought the dispute to a resolution.
       A news item in the 11 Oct 1982 DV announced that M-G-M received $3.5 million for special effects photography. The 18 Oct 1982 HR adjusted the amount to $3.3 million, which was supplied by Lloyd’s, and stated that United Artists Corporation, M-G-M’s distribution branch, would release the film. The insurer’s investment in the production had reached $6.3 million, approximately half of M-G-M’s original claim. Trumbull stated that the film would be released by summer 1983.
       Production notes from AMPAS library files, dated 8 Nov 1982, announced the completion of principal photography and the start of five months of post-production. The 26 Nov 1982 DV reported that Walken was called back for one day of photography.
       The 29 Jul 1983 release of Brainstorm was announced in the 26 Feb 1983 LAHExam. The planned 10 Jun 1983 release was cancelled because additional time was needed in “completing the complicated production.” The 28 Feb 1983 HR estimated that a finished print would be available by the middle of May 1983. An article in the Santa Monica, CA, 21-23 May 1983 Weekend Outlook reported that the film’s release would possibly be delayed until late autumn 1983 for the holiday season. However, the studio scheduled exhibitor screenings of the film, formatted in 70mm, in thirty U.S. cities for 20 Jul and 21 Jul 1983, according to production notes.
       The 7 Sep 1983 HR announced a 6 Sep 1983 premiere of Brainstorm in Raleigh, NC, at the Mission Valley Cinema. The article reported $18 million as the final cost of the picture. The West Coast premiere was planned for 5 Oct 1983 at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, with proceeds benefiting the Hollywood Library, which was destroyed by fire the previous year, according to production notes dated 31 Aug 1983. The date was changed to 29 Sep 1983, as reported in the 2 Sep 1983 HR .
       Brainstorm was released nationally 30 Sep 1983, a week earlier than the scheduled 7 Oct 1983, as reported in the 15 Sep 1983 HR. One hundred seventy-five 70mm prints were released for “exclusive initial engagements,” believed at the time to be the largest 70mm opening to date. The film went into general release 11 Nov 1983 in eight hundred theatres. It received lukewarm reviews.
       The 15 Sep 1983 LAHExam reported that actor Robert Wagner asked M-G-M to remove a dedication to his late wife, Natalie Wood, at the end of the picture. The actor later relented, according to the 23 Sep 1983 LAT. The dedication did not appear on the print viewed for this record. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Sep 1981.
---
Box Office
19 Oct 1981.
---
Box Office
Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
25 Nov 1980.
---
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1981.
---
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1981.
---
Daily Variety
29 Oct 1981.
---
Daily Variety
10 Nov 1981.
---
Daily Variety
1 Dec 1981.
---
Daily Variety
5 Jan 1982.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1982.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1982.
---
Daily Variety
27 Jan 1982.
---
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1982.
---
Daily Variety
10 Feb 1982.
---
Daily Variety
22 Feb 1982.
---
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1982.
---
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1982
p. 1, 19.
Daily Variety
28 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
30 Apr 1982.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1982
pp. 1-2
Daily Variety
7 Sep 1982.
---
Daily Variety
11 Oct 1982.
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1982.
---
Daily Variety
3 Mar 1983.
---
Evening Outlook
20-21 Mar 1982.
---
Film Journal
15 Jan 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1982.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1983.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 1983
p. 5, 11.
LAHExam
7 Jan 1982
p. A2.
LAHExam
27 Jan 1982.
---
LAHExam
8 Feb 1982.
---
LAHExam
15 Apr 1982
p. A2.
LAHExam
20 Apr 1982
p. A2.
LAHExam
14 May 1982.
---
LAHExam
22 Oct 1982.
---
LAHExam
26 Feb 1983.
---
LAHExam
15 Sep 1983.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Jul 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Dec 1981
p. 1, 3.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 1981
Part VI, p. 1, 10.
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1981
Part VI, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
21 Jan 1982
Part VI, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
26 Jan 1982
Part VI, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
27 Jan 1982
Part VI, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times
8 Feb 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
12 Mar 1982.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 1983
Part VI, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
23 Sep 1982
p. 1, 13.
Los Angeles Times
30 Sep 1983
p. 13.
New York Times
2 Dec 1981.
---
New York Times
4 Mar 1983.
---
New York Times
30 Sep 1983
p. 17.
Newsweek
8 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
17 Dec 1980.
---
Variety
5 Aug 1981.
---
Variety
19 Aug 1981.
---
Variety
7 Oct 1981.
---
Variety
9 Dec 1981.
---
Variety
16 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
17 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
29 Feb 1982.
---
Variety
5 May 1982.
---
Variety
16 Jun 1982.
---
Variety
10 Nov 1982.
---
Variety
8 Dec 1982.
---
Variety
7 Sep 1983.
---
Variety
28 Sep 1983
p, 10.
Weekend Outlook, Santa Monica
21-23 May 1983.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents
A JF Production
A Douglas Trumbull Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Still photog
Still photog
Still photog
Video eng
Video tech
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Grip best boy
2d grip
Dolly grip
Film tech
Still lab tech
Lead cam tech
Cam tech
Cam tech
Cam tech
Cam op
Cam op
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
Illustrator
Illustrator
Artistic consultant
Artistic consultant
Artistic consultant
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
1st asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop
Const coord
Const coord
Standby painter
Leadman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Women's costumer
Men's costumer
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
Source mus consultant
Mus rec supv
Spec synthesizer eff
Spec synthesizer eff
Spec synthesizer eff
Doxology performed by
The Duke University Choir cond by
California Boys Choir cond by
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec visual eff created by
Dir of photog, Entertainment Effects Group
Opt eff supv, Entertainment Effects Group
Compsy eff supv, Entertainment Effects Group
Visual eff supv, Entertainment Effects Group
Action props and miniatures supv, Entertainment Ef
Matte artist, Entertainment Effects Group
Post prod coord, Entertainment Effects Group
Asst ed of visual eff, Entertainment Effects Group
Opt line-up, Entertainment Effects Group
Company tech supv, Entertainment Effects Group
Anim and graphics, Entertainment Effects Group
Addl photog, Entertainment Effects Group
Visual consultant
Eff artistic consultant
Eff artistic consultant
Eff artistic consultant
Eff artistic consultant
Asst matte artist
Eff grip
Opt cam op
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
Action props and miniatures
MAKEUP
Ms. Wood's hair stylist
Ms. Wood's makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Casting
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Unit pub
Unit pub
Craft services
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Consulting eng
Projectionist
Cinetechnician
Mechanical tech
Mechanical tech
Electronic tech
Electronic tech
Electronic tech
Electronic tech
Asst to Mr. Trumbull
Asst to Mr. Yuricich
Post prod office coord
Post prod aide
Post prod aide
Post prod aide
Post prod aide
Experiential seq consultant
Experiential seq consultant
Scientific consultant
Scientific consultant
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 September 1983
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 30 September 1983
Production Date:
19 September--25 November 1981
8 February--7 March 1982
September--October 1982
Copyright Claimant:
MGM/UA Entertainment Company
Copyright Date:
26 October 1983
Copyright Number:
PA190227
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Super Panavision®; Panaflex® Cameras & lenses by Panavision®
Lenses
Special purpose lenses courtesy of Omnivision®
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At a laboratories complex in North Carolina, scientist Lillian Reynolds tests a device, whicht enables one person to experience the sensations of another, with her colleague, Dr. Michael Brace, and test pilot Gordy Forbes acting as subjects. Wearing elaborate headgear to connect their brains, Michael is able to see, feel, hear, smell and taste everything that Gordy experiences. After the team members toast their success with beer, Michael bicycles home to see his estranged wife, Karen, and their son, Chris. The next day, company president Alex Terson congratulates Lillian, Michael, and their assistant, Hal Abramson, on their breakthrough, and he presents the group with a new superconducting chip that will dramatically reduce the size of the headgear, which Karen will redesign. Hal then assigns the team to prepare a demonstration that will amaze him. That night, Michael moves out of his home, which the couple plans to sell as part of the divorce settlement. Meanwhile, Gordy engages in simulated air combat, drives a racecar, participates in a foxhunt, and attends a water park with several bikini-clad women, all of which is recorded for the upcoming demonstration on large-format computer tape. With the help of Michael and Lillian, Karen reduces the size of the headgear to a U-shaped headband, nicknamed “the hat,” which connects to a computer with three-dimensional imaging capability. Amazed by the demonstration, Alex arranges another for investors and government officials, all of whom are equally impressed. Among them is Robert Jenkins, who later describes his experience to military contractor James Zimbach. At a party celebrating the project, Michael, Karen, Lillian and Hal are introduced to Zimbach, Dr. ... +


At a laboratories complex in North Carolina, scientist Lillian Reynolds tests a device, whicht enables one person to experience the sensations of another, with her colleague, Dr. Michael Brace, and test pilot Gordy Forbes acting as subjects. Wearing elaborate headgear to connect their brains, Michael is able to see, feel, hear, smell and taste everything that Gordy experiences. After the team members toast their success with beer, Michael bicycles home to see his estranged wife, Karen, and their son, Chris. The next day, company president Alex Terson congratulates Lillian, Michael, and their assistant, Hal Abramson, on their breakthrough, and he presents the group with a new superconducting chip that will dramatically reduce the size of the headgear, which Karen will redesign. Hal then assigns the team to prepare a demonstration that will amaze him. That night, Michael moves out of his home, which the couple plans to sell as part of the divorce settlement. Meanwhile, Gordy engages in simulated air combat, drives a racecar, participates in a foxhunt, and attends a water park with several bikini-clad women, all of which is recorded for the upcoming demonstration on large-format computer tape. With the help of Michael and Lillian, Karen reduces the size of the headgear to a U-shaped headband, nicknamed “the hat,” which connects to a computer with three-dimensional imaging capability. Amazed by the demonstration, Alex arranges another for investors and government officials, all of whom are equally impressed. Among them is Robert Jenkins, who later describes his experience to military contractor James Zimbach. At a party celebrating the project, Michael, Karen, Lillian and Hal are introduced to Zimbach, Dr. Landon Marks and Colonel Easterbrook. Lillian deduces that the group will now be supervising her project, and voices her resentment. When Marks is officially added to the research team, Lillian calls him “a spy for the feds” and “a hack,” then runs to the ladies’ restroom, complaining of chest pains. Later, Karen and Michael use the device to communicate their deepest feelings about their failed marriage, which leads to a reconciliation. The next morning, Michael receives an urgent phone call from Hal’s wife, Wendy. Michael arrives at the house to find Hal unconscious and wracked with convulsions after multiple viewings of a tape in which Gordy is engaged in sexual intercourse with a young woman. Afraid that the incident may embarrass the company, Alex places Hal on indeterminate leave with a full disability pension. Hal is pleased with the outcome, and tells Michael that the experience has enhanced him physically. That night, Lillian suffers a massive heart attack in the laboratory and records her dying moments. On his last day of employment, Hal makes a final visit to the laboratory, where Michael asks for his assistance with playing back Lillian’s death recording, unaware that a laboratory technician is observing them on a closed-circuit monitor. Seconds into the playback, Michael’s body emulates the symptoms of Lillian’s heart attack, causing Hal to stop the device and adjust the output to minimize the physical effects. Alex, Zimbach, and Jenkins assemble in the monitor room, while Marks connects Gordy to the device. The scientist disregards warnings from both Alex and the technician about potential dangers, and Gordy dies from a heart attack as the experiment resumes. Meanwhile, Michael observes various moments from Lillian’s life before suffering a physical collapse. Following his recovery, Michael tells Karen of his glimpse into the afterlife, and expresses his need to view the rest of the tape. However, Karen is more concerned with her husband’s wellbeing, and makes him promise to never leave her again. Michael returns to work to find Marks and his team dismantling the laboratory, and when he tries to interfere, Alex enters and tells Michael, “It’s over.” Upon hearing of Alex’s betrayal, Hal tells Michael about a project called “Brainstorm.” From his home office, Michael hacks into the company’s computer system and discovers the database for Project Brainstorm, which includes simulations of trauma, pain, anxiety, and psychosis. Following a brief sample of a psychotic episode, Michael tells Karen that the project he and Lillian developed has been turned into a tool for brainwashing. Meanwhile, Chris enters his father’s office and stares curiously at the computer screen before donning the hat. The boy suffers a psychotic break, which results in a hospital stay under heavy sedation. Alex offers to pay for Chris’s treatment and recommends that Michael and Karen take a brief vacation. Despite Michael’s hostility toward Alex, he and Karen accept the offer and spend the weekend in a resort hotel. During their stay, Michael and Karen discover that company spies are following them, so they stage a quarrel, after which Karen’s leaves Michael alone at the hotel. With Hal’s assistance, Karen hacks the Evans-Wetmore computer and creates havoc with the company’s machinery, especially its robot-controled assembly line. Marks holds Michael responsible for the sabotage and orders the spies to apprehend him. Michael makes a narrow escape and drives to the Wright Brothers Memorial, where he accesses the computer through a telephone booth and resumes his viewing of Lillian’s tape. Karen arrives moments later, and calls to Michael as he visualizes traveling through the universe to a large, glowing object, surrounded by tiny angels. With Karen’s help, Michael returns to consciousness, overjoyed at his achievement. He looks up at the stars and tells Karen that he loves her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.