94 user 47 critic

Brainstorm (1983)

3:21 | Trailer
Researchers develop a system where they can jump into people's minds. But when people involved bring their personal problems into the equation, it becomes dangerous - perhaps deadly.


Douglas Trumbull


Bruce Joel Rubin (story), Robert Stitzel (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Walken ... Michael Brace
Natalie Wood ... Karen Brace
Louise Fletcher ... Lillian Reynolds
Cliff Robertson ... Alex Terson
Jordan Christopher ... Gordy Forbes
Donald Hotton ... Landan Marks
Alan Fudge ... Robert Jenkins
Joe Dorsey ... Hal Abramson
Bill Morey ... James Zimbach
Jason Lively ... Chris Brace
Darrell Larson ... Security Technician
Lou Walker ... Chef
Stacey Kuhne-Adams Stacey Kuhne-Adams ... Andrea
John Hugh John Hugh ... Animal Lab Technician
Ira David Wood III ... Barry (as David Wood)


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 ... Written by Eric van bezooijen <eric@webmethods.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


...The Ultimate Experience See more »


Sci-Fi | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The tape used in the tape machines is a variety of decorative tape made by 3M. 3M only sold it in four-inch widths, so it had to be slit by hand to two-inch widths to fit in the tape machines. When filmed, they were astounded at how gaudy it looked, so to dampen its brightness, the prop crew wound the tape back and forth across a sander to dull its brilliance. "One of those things that actually looked a lot better on film when we finished with it," Douglas Trumbull commented. See more »


The boxes containing the water activated foam were cut in advance at the top to increase the effect of them rupturing when they collided with the wall at the portable computer factory. Furthermore, why would a microcomputer factory be transporting cases full of water activated foam so close to the assembly line. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Lillian Reynolds: Can you see better if I move it a little closer?
Dr. Michael Anthony Brace: I can see something. It's parts of the grid, but it's still rotating. It's not locking up.
Hal Abramson: Maybe we all need a little break, Lillian.
Dr. Lillian Reynolds: Hal, you take a break.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the final credit has rolled, 'TO NATALIE' appears for a couple seconds See more »

Alternate Versions

In the psychotic episode sequence when Michael's (Christopher Walken) son Chris (Jason Lively) wears the headset, there's a slight difference between the 70mm version and 35mm version. In the 70mm version of Chris' hallucination when Michael turns on a lever sending presumably an electrical current to Chris' head, the camera cuts to and remains on a shot of a circular device with electricity running through it as we hear Michael say 'Now you're gonna find out it's mine!'. In the 35mm version, the shot arrangement is the same except that it cuts back to a close up of Michael saying the line 'Now you're gonna find out it's mine!'. See more »

User Reviews

"Nobody locks me out!"
5 March 2014 | by Hey_SwedenSee all my reviews

Cutting edge sci-fi film is interesting and absorbing enough to make it good entertainment. It's not so much about story. There really isn't much of one, and we don't ever get to know the characters *that* well. This is more a film about concepts - and imagery, of course. Marking a directorial effort for visual effects specialist Douglas Trumbull ("2001: A Space Odyssey", "Silent Running"), it definitely has the right look to it. Trumbull uses multiple aspect ratios in order to maximize the experience. Fortunately, he does give the proceedings a level of humanity, particularly as they pertain to a shaky marriage, and there are moments of poignancy during the narrative.

Christopher Walken and Louise Fletcher star as Michael Brace and Lillian Reynolds, two old- fashioned mad scientists working to perfect a virtual reality device that records human experiences. It can allow you to taste what somebody else is eating, for example, or feel what it was like for them as they rode a roller coaster. The people funding and backing Brace & Reynolds ultimately don't like the way they do things, and try to alter the course of the research. Michael becomes obsessed with checking out a tape made by Lillian, and figures out a way to sneak past the defenses of the computer program running the show.

Overall, this is an amusing show, with solid acting by all concerned. Fletcher is indeed a standout. "Brainstorm" is notable for being the last credit for co-star Natalie Wood (who isn't given very much to do), whose untimely death occurred during production. Supporting cast members include Cliff Robertson, a likable Joe Dorsey ("Grizzly"), and a young Jason Lively ("Night of the Creeps") as Walken and Woods' son. (Walkens' real-life spouse Georgianne, who usually works as a casting director, appears on screen here as Dorseys' wife.) The technical work on the film is of course first rate, with eye popping visual effects, effective production design, and a thunderous music score by James Horner.

Worth a look for fans of this genre.

Seven out of 10.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

30 September 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Gordon Forbes Tapes See more »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,196,965, 2 October 1983

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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