Altered States (1980)
Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror | Thriller
Country: USA | Director: Ken Russell
Language: English | Subtitles: English (.srt file)
Aspect ratio: Widescreen 1.85:1 | Length: 102mn
Bdrip H264 Mkv – 1280×720 – 23.976fps – 3.03gb
An American researching different states of consciousness with the aid of mind altering drugs and an isolation chamber begins to experience disturbing physical changes in his body that point toward an evolutionary regression.
Altered States was the film that put Ken Russell back in the spotlight as one the world’s greatest directors. Russell claimed that the film had been passed on by 26 different directors (including Kubrick and Spielberg) before the author, Paddy Chayefsky, asked him to direct. This is possibly his best film. Not only is the movie remarkably coherent considering the bizarre story, but it also gives Russell a chance to go crazy with hallucinations and mind blowing special-effects.
William Hurt stars, in his film debut, as Eddie Jessup, a scientist hell bent on finding the essence of human existence. And the way he achieves it is to, of course, take hallucinogenic drugs; and a lot of them. The film is filled with religious symbolism and psychedelic imagery. At one point we are even asked to believe in the power of mind over body (much like ‘The Matrix’), when Jessup regresses into a neanderthal and goes on a rampage. This all takes place against the sub-plot involving the relationship between Jessup and his wife. The climax is probably the only sequence in all of cinema that legitimately recalls the end of Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968). Though the ending is a bit dated (Roman Polanski’s ending for ‘Frantic'(1988) is quite similar), it actually works because it builds on the theme of Jessup’s search for the meaning of life.
The movie does have a bit of a history to it, besides the number of directors who turned it down. During production Chayefsky tried to take control away from Russell who would not submit. The producer eventually sided with Russell. Chayefsky washed his hands from the project and had his real name, Sydney Aaron, credited as the screenwriter. (Chayefsky died a year later; many questioned his mental health.) Regardless, the end result is glorious.
The film achieved a fair share of success; Time magazine named it the best film of 1980 and it did well at the box-office (for Russell at least). The movie definitely has more of a following now. And all this is much deserved. William Hurt gives one of the best debut performances ever seen. And Ken Russell is at his best. Certainly a science-fiction classic.