Project brainstorm

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German title Project brainstorm
Original title Brainstorm
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1983
length 106 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Douglas Trumbull
script Philip Frank Messina ,
Robert Stitzel
production Douglas Trumbull
music James Horner
camera Richard Yuricich
cut Freeman A. Davies ,
Edward Warschilka

Brainstorm is an American science fiction - thriller from the year 1983 of the director, visual effects artists and producers Douglas Trumbull with Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood in the lead roles. Brainstorm was after Silent Running (German Silent Running ) second Trumbull directing. The premiere in Germany took place on February 10, 1984.


The film is about the scientist Dr. Lillian Reynolds, who together with her employees, the separated couple Dr. Michael Anthony Brace and Karen Brace who developed a revolutionary apparatus. It is a brain-computer interface (initially a kind of helmet, which is later made more compact) that makes it possible to record thoughts, emotions and experiences, make them visible and transfer them to other people. The storage medium used is gold-coated magnetic tapes , which are written on with a laser and which can also be processed and cut as required. The apparatus is applicable to humans and monkeys.

When the stressful and heart disease Dr. Reynolds suffers a severe heart attack, she decides to document her death with the intention of leaving the magnetic tape to her colleague Michael so that he can gain scientific knowledge of what happened during and after death.

The unscrupulous industrialist Alex Terson decides to sell Brainstorm to the military and use it for brainwashing purposes. He orders the "death tape" with the death experiences of Dr. Reynolds under lock and key so that no one can access the tape.

Michael tries to play the tape, but that is impossible for him at first because he first has to weaken and transform the painful and unbearable feelings recorded. He succeeds, but a company employee who looks at the unfiltered tape at the same time dies in agony. Michael later finds access to the secret project Brainstorm . Over the telephone line and with the support of an employee dismissed after enjoying a "sex tape", he gets access to recordings that were produced for military purposes. He's playing one of the tapes. A life-threatening psychotic episode is shown following a government warning. Michael now realizes the real plan that is hidden behind the project.

While Michael is telling his wife the truth about the project, their son Chris sits down at the device and plays Terson's “extreme bond”, which leads to Chris suffering severe psychological trauma . But Michael is determined to contact Dr. To get Reynolds death tape and play it - even if that is only possible at risk to his life.

Technical aspect

Most of the time, Brainstorm was filmed in Super Panavision 70 mm and was way ahead of its time in terms of both content and technology. The film was made in two processes: in the format 1.85: 1 (35 mm) for the real scenes and in the format 2.20: 1 (70 mm Super Panavision) for the “brainstorm” scenes of the device.

Because two different and incompatible film recording types or film formats were used, the 35 mm recordings had to be enlarged to 65 or 70 mm negatives so that visual consistency could be achieved.

As a result, the 35 mm sequences of the original cinema format were shown in the so-called pillar box format (aspect ratio 14: 9 with side borders), while the 70 mm scenes are shown in full screen format ( scope screen format ) could. The VHS and DVD versions of the film show the 35 and 70 mm sequences in letterbox format in their correct aspect ratios .


James Horner composed the dark background music for the film and recorded it in Hollywood with a studio orchestra . The Varese Sarabande album, or the CD version, is a new recording with the London Symphony Orchestra , which was produced shortly before the official cinema release.

Tragic circumstances

Project Brainstorm was Natalie Wood's last film. Shortly before the end of filming, she died on November 29, 1981 under unexplained circumstances on a boat trip with her husband Robert Wagner and her film partner Christopher Walken .

Because of his death, production was stopped for almost two years. For this reason, MGM wanted to sell the film rights to Paramount Pictures so that the film could be completed. The studio finally decided to complete the ending using a body double, a voice imitator and existing and wacky footage. In the fall of 1983 the film finally hit theaters and flopped.

The end credits of the film contain the dedication “To Natalie” in memory of Natalie Wood.


"Technically complex, not always coherent mixture of large-scale entertainment cinema and a description of technological developments and social conflicts that is worth considering."

“'Project Brainstorm' [is] not a space utopia; rather, the universe is exchanged for the human psyche and the limit of what is scientifically and technologically actually possible today is only exceeded by a tiny fraction. [...] Trumbull's concept of giving the show values ​​of his film a deeper meaning by combining them with a demanding topic that touches on ethical questions and even the taboo of death is honest and worthy of recognition. Indeed, today one should be grateful for every film that does not use the highly developed technical possibilities of the medium in the service of more or less primitive, popular horror and fantasy films, but tries to break new ground with their help . [...] For Ken Russell's related film ' Der Höllentrip ' he provides a nice counterpart, the 'Himmelstrip' so to speak. You can marvel at building blocks, but you hardly get addicted (or smarter) with them. "

- Robert Fischer: Epd Film 2/84

“What you see on the screen [...] is nothing more than the strenuous, ambitious demonstration of Trumbull's new trick process 'Show-Scan' [...]. The complexity of the characters and the topics raised are buried by the 'experimental extravagance' of the technology, which is basically very banal. "

- Helmut W. Banz, Die Zeit

Awards (selection)

Actress Louise Fletcher received a Saturn Award in 1984 in the Best Actress category. Composer James Horner won the award for his film music.


Brainstorm is also the title of a 1965 film directed by William Conrad .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Project Brainstorm. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  2. ^ Robert Fischer: Project Brainstorm. In: Epd Film 2/84. 1984, accessed on December 27, 2008 (from Filmzentrale).
  3. Helmut W. Banz: Disappointing . In: The time . No. 8/1984 , February 17, 1984, Im Kino, p. 43 .
  4. IMDb