“BRAINSTORM” review

1e3da-brainstorm  Science-fiction drama starring Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher and Cliff Robertson.

SYNOPSIS – Inventors of a device that records thoughts, experiences, and emotions, lose control of it through sinister government forces, who use it for covert military ops.

Most of Brainstorm was filmed in 1981, then delayed release to 1983 because of Natalie Wood’s death mid-production.  She had finished all, but three scenes which were re-filmed without her.  It was also a comeback for Cliff Robertson, who had been blacklisted for reporting check forgery by then-head of Columbia Pictures, David Begelman.  Ordinarily such publicity might help a film make money.  In this case, it didn’t.  Brainstorm wasn’t the hit MGM hoped for; however, it’s become a cult favorite, being Miss Wood’s final effort.

Image result for images, brainstorm 1983  It’s also a rarity, being one of the few films Chris Walken isn’t an insane psychic or murderer.  He’s well-played as Dr. Michael Brace who helps invent the new wonder machine,

 ..but it was Louise Fletcher, who received most of the good reviews for her role as Lillian Reynolds, who records her own death.

Image result for images, brainstorm 1983, natalie wood  Natalie Wood is Karen Brace (wife of Michael) who designs the headphones for recording thought.  It’s sad, of course, seeing the final performance of what they used to call a real movie star.  (We don’t have any more.)  At age 43, she’s still beautiful and it’s not surprising the film is dedicated to her in the final credits.

The director is Douglas Trumbull, famous in his own right for his special effects work in “2001”.  Without Trumbull, the film would never have come to fruition.  MGM wanted to dump it after Wood’s unexpected drowning.  Trumbull convinced them not to and completed it against difficult odds.   Film also anticipates IMAX during the “Brainstorm” mind recordings  – filmed with widescreen 65mm film.

Image result for images, brainstorm 1983

The Score – Music Composed by James Horner, who became more famous for his Oscar-winning score for “Titanic”, 1997.  (Another sad note; Horner died last year while piloting an experimental plane.)  He was only thirty when he composed Brainstorm, a remarkable achievement at any age.  Soundtrack is played by the London Symphony Orchestra – the sound is excellent.  He integrates piano interludes thru Karen’s character.  (Wood plays piano onscreen.)  Ear-catching themes during the computer sequences.  Effective use of a boy’s choir and the haunting final music is chilling.

Text © 2016 – ERN

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