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Brainstorm (1983) [VHS]
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Product Description

Brainstorm is a fascinating but frustrating film, simply because it dabbles in greatness but fails to develop the fullest implications of its provocative ideas. It's a visually dazzling film with outstanding special effects; directed by veteran effects creator Douglas Trumbull, of 2001 fame; but too caught up in marvels of hardware and software at the expense of its characters, who remain interesting but dramatically two-dimensional. The story involves the development of a headset recorder that can replay one person's experiences--even their emotional states--into the mind of another. The device obviously invites corporate or military exploitation, and Cliff Robertson plays a ruthless executive determined to tap into its lucrative potential. But when a scientist (Louise Fletcher) records her own death experience with the device, along with incriminating evidence, the technology's inventor (Christopher Walken) must unlock the mysteries of his colleague's suspicious demise and the very nature of death itself. Punctuated by remarkable sequences from the perspective of those who use the mind-expanding headset, Brainstorm dares to reach for ambitious themes and innovative movie experiences, and that alone makes it eminently worthwhile. But with a conclusion that too literally interprets the afterlife experience with conventional angelic imagery, and a disappointingly thin role for Natalie Wood (who died while the film was still in production), the film strives for profundity and settles instead for an inspirational light show. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • Welcome to the Future
    Although many say that this was not Natalie Woods best work, I truly enjoyed the movie. The technical instrument that they invent is astonishing. To be able to experience other peoplke's thoughts, their adventures, or your past would be amazing. If someone was dying they could rememeber the good times and leave it to their family. If you've never experienced a certain condition, feeling, or thought, you could through someone else's mind. I for one would love to be able to experience this type of adventure....more info
  • Can it be......
    This was a very interesting movie, both when I was a kid and even now 30 yrs. later. I watched this movie every time it was on as a child on HBO. It is a good choice to buy, it never gets boring. ...more info
  • Gayle Donham
    Very good movie. It was the movie Natalie Wood was making when she died. Purchased from Moviemars through Amazon.com. Good merchant to buy from....more info
  • Love the movie, bad transfer here on the DVD
    I've loved this movie since it came out (yes, I'm an ancient person who saw it in the theater).

    However, I just got this DVD and it appears they screwed up the transfer. The film is _supposed_ to be a 2.35 format movie but was transferred for a 1.85 academy projection. So all of the scenes that were shot with 65mm show up cropped, all of those shot on 35mm are full frame. Very annoying and a waste of space that could have been used for a higher bitrate compression.

    Granted, this is one of those early DVD transfers that has "widescreen" on one side and "standard" on the other. Even for $10, I'd pass on this and wait for this movie to be retransferred correctly on Blu-Ray or some future format.
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  • Natalie Wood's last movie is a bit uneven
    The first half of this film, made when Natalie Wood was still alive, is quite good. The story comes together quite well as the tale of a couple that is in the midst of divorce. The husband, Dr. Anthony Brace, (Christopher Walken) is an employee at a company that does cutting edge research, and he has been mentored his entire career by Dr. Lillian Reynolds (Louise Fletcher). Brace and his wife (Natalie Wood) have a son together, but their relationship has come apart, and whenever they are together there is nothing but arguing and bitterness. Reynolds and Brace are currently working on a device that allows you to actually feel what someone else is experiencing. One night, while working all alone in the lab, Dr. Reynolds has a massive coronary. Realizing this is the end, she puts on the device, starts the recording session of her experiences, and dies. The rest of the film is a battle for Dr. Reynolds' "death tapes" and the use of the recording device. It is after the point of Reynolds' death that the film gets very splintered. It is hard to see just where the film is going because the decision to go on to the end with the film that contained Wood and not start over with another lead actress severely limited the editors in what they had to work with since reshoots of most scenes were now out of the question. Natalie Wood died in the autumn of 1981, and it was almost two years later before the finished product of this film arrived.

    Some sci-fi type films that are this old are either irrelevant or so laughably outdated that they are pure camp. Because this film focuses on the idea of the possibilities of healing relationships and even getting a new lease on life by experiencing life through the eyes of others rather than the technology, this film has held up pretty well over time. It just makes me wonder how truly great the film could have been if Natalie Wood had lived. ...more info
  • Glad that Brainstorm was remastered
    While I understand the frustration of viewers who own conventional (ie. 4:3) ratio televisions, I personally am thrilled with this DVD remaster.

    I still recall enjoying this film in 70mm in theaters in its initial release, and this new DVD does its best to attempt to recreate that for home viewing, especially on larger 16:9 televisions. The change in aspect ratios now make the "Brainstorm" segments 'pop' in comparison to the narrative portion of the film.

    The first DVD was not even enhanced for 16:9 TVs, so the picture quality is much improved due to that factor alone.

    The lack of any notable supplemental features is disappointing, however.


    ...more info
  • Brainstorm
    This being the last Natalie Wood picture I could not resist. I deals with death and life that is not usually thought of and how people grow apart by not comunicating and listening....more info
  • Great Film, Lousy DVD
    This is a truly great film, and like Bladerunner, was years ahead of its time. Unfortunately this DVD has is possibly one of the worst transfers I've seen. If your thinking of buying, don't. Wait until the studio releases gets it together and gives this film the attention it deserves with a restored anamorphic release....more info
  • Great sci-fi thriller
    The premise of this movie is great - they find a way to record all five senses, and when Louise Fletcher (awesome acting as the chain-smoking scientist) records her own death, the movie just takes off. Christopher Walken is great, and It think this is Natalie Wood's last movie.

    The post-death scenes are well done - great effects for 1983. Definitely worth viewing....more info

  • Nice remastering job.
    First off is an overview of the cult movie 'Brainstorm'. It's Natalie Wood's final film, which greatly compromised the original vision of the filmmakers given she still had a number of scenes left unfilmed. Director Douglas Trumbull, who was the visual effects supervisor for '2001', 'Close Encounters' and 'Blade Runner' aims for Kubrick-like experiential images but the cumulative effect is nowhere near as grandiose or meaningful. Critics complain the characters are two-dimensional, which they may be, but the actors all around perform well, particularly Louise Fletcher, whose *SPOILER ALERT* death sequence is really powerful and definitely Oscar worthy. Still, what's there is worthwhile and fun to watch for the most part.

    Now for the DVD review. It lacks any extras, which is fine I suppose given there's not a great deal of interest in the title other than a niche. The feature presentation however on standard DVD is pretty good. There's color restoration as well as removal of print damage inherent on previous releases, 5.1 surround sound, and it correctly shifts between 1.85:1 pillarboxed and 2.35:1 letterbox. I guess given the recent success of 'The Dark Knight' on bluray with it's own aspect ratio shifting, showing 'Brainstorm' as it originally appeared theatrically wouldn't be that problematic for home theater philes.

    In the end, still a cult title that's somewhere between Kubrick and the sentimental humor of Spielberg. A worthwhile two hours with some really nice visual effects sequences. I'm glad it's on DVD....more info
  • Fletcher and Wood at the top of their game
    My god has it been 17 years since this film was released in theatres! I saw it as a kid and was absolutely blown away by it. Louise Fletcher deserved at least an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress...she tears through her limited screentime with a ferocity and vivacity that is rarely seen these days. When she's confronting the government types who want to steal the "mind-recording" machine she and fellow scientist Chris Walken have invented, it is truly a great acting moment. Her barking at boss Cliff Robertson to "don't you goddamn me, sweetheart" and then proceeding to almost have a heart attack in the ladies room is a classic cinema moment. Natalie Wood had not finished filming all her scenes before her tragic death, but its hardly noticeable. She had that most incredible, expressive face and director Trumbel chose to hold on that in many key moments. When Walken plays back his memories of her (Wood and Walken's marriage is crumbling), the joy on her face is so real. The music for the film is also amazing...from the haunting opening score to the joyous music that surrounds Walken and Wood on their journey. Fletcher's heart attack, where she records her own death experience, is truly disturbing, and Walken's attempt to play it back (which almost kills him)is also terrifying. A beautiful, brave film. Fletcher needs more work like this. And of course, Natalie Wood is missed greatly....more info
  • ONLY THOSE WITH A BIG SCREEN T.V. NEED APPLY
    Here's the thing, I have a very good, 27" tube, JVC T.V., the picture is sharp and crisp, with excellent colour definition. I have it hooked into a Sony DVD player through composite cables (red, blue, green) and a standard RCA stereo jack hooked into an Technics analog receiver.

    Now I tell you this, dear reader, because I want you to know from what equipment I am viewing this movie from, and why this new DVD version of, BRAINSTORM, will only work properly on a BIG screen T.V.

    What they have done is try and give the viewing audience, the original cinema experience with this film, but all that they've really done, is alienate the vast percentage of the viewing public that still haven't found the need to toss out perfectly good video equipment , for the latest LED or Plasma 200" monitor.

    I happen to like the look that is achieved on a tube T.V. as it looks more natural and less digital.

    Luckily for me, I still have the older MGM version of this film on DVD, which is much better because the people at the time, thought about everyone and not just the people with the big screen T.V.'s.

    I mean really, if I want to watch a movie on the big screen, I'll go to the movies, but for home viewing, a 27" screen is more then enough.

    But there in lies the problem with this new DVD, in that about 92% of the picture is letterboxed on all four sides (to preserve the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of the regular parts of the movie) and the other 8% (which represent the "BRAINSTORM" effects) is presented at the 2.36:1 ratio that it was shot. Now, like I said, this works great on a big screen T.V., but on a regular T.V., 92% of the picture is almost reduced in size to a postage stamp (which is quite annoying to watch).

    What they did with the original DVD was to fill the screen from left to right with the picture at 1.85:1, then it changes only hight wise (top to bottom) during the, "BRAINSTORM", segments, but what the new DVD does is keep the same hight through out, but changing the right to left portions of the screen during the 2.36:1 parts, and like I said, this would work at the movies, but on an average T.V. screen, it's not so great, as most of the film plays in a box in the middle of the T.V. screen.

    So, keep the old MGM version if you have it, and leave the new DVD for the big screen people......more info