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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Brainstorm [Blu-ray]


(Douglas Trumbull, 1983)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:46:19.414

Disc Size: 20,107,638,282 bytes

Feature Size: 19,885,203,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.95 Mbps

Chapters: 26

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 10th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (1.66:1 pictureboxed)

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3350 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3350 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



Trailer (3:17 in 480i)





Description: Research scientists Louise Fletcher ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest") and Christopher Walken ("The Deer Hunter") invent a machine that can record sensory experiences only to have devastating results when Fletcher records her own death.


Natalie Wood made her last screen appearance in Brainstorm; in fact, she died before the film was completed, necessitating extensive rewrites. Wood's character is secondary to the one played by Christopher Walken. A research scientist, Walken has been experimenting with a revolutionary brain-reading device. This wondrous machine is able to read a person's thought processes and translate these to videotape. When Walken wants to study the brainwaves of his late partner Louise Fletcher, he finds himself seriously at odds with his superiors-not to mention several ominous-looking government types, headed by Cliff Robertson.



The Film:

In a button-pusher's paradise, replete with the dazzling array of hardware that ''Brainstorm'' so effectively utilizes, a group of scientists is poised on the brink of an astonishing discovery. They have created a device that allows one person to experience vicariously the sensations of others. If Person A, wearing a specially designed helmet, eats a piece of steak with nuts, chocolate sauce and marshmallow on top (that's the meal used in the experiment), Person B can taste the same stuff and share in the same indigestion.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

Douglas Trumbull in 1977. While Trumbull had directed one feature film before, Silent Running (1972), he was best known as one of the world's top special effects wizards. Trumbull had made his indelible mark in Hollywood by creating memorable special effects for films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Blade Runner (1982). Trumbull had been looking for a chance to direct a second feature, and when he heard the concept of Brainstorm, he was intrigued. "There was an original screenplay written by Bruce Rubin that needed to be boiled down but had all the concepts that intrigued me as a film," said Trumbull in a 1983 interview with Film Comment. "I was trying to find a project that dealt with the issue of perception, and I felt the script offered that opportunity."

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

I'm not positive but this may be a blunder. Brainstorm utilizes a 2.35:1 or 2.2:1 aspect ratio (often fish-eye or spherical) for the brain-reading machine sequences and, about, a 1.66:1 AR for the majority of the film (representing 'reality'.) This is listed as being 1.85:1 on IMDb. Unfortunately the reality scenes are heavy picture-boxed to about 1325 X 800 on the Warner Blu-ray transfer as shown by the screen captures below. This severely reduces the resolution and I highly doubt it appeared this way theatrically. Otherwise the image quality, colors and detail seem adept on the single-layered transfer.


NOTE: Bill tells us on FB: "Gary, the pictureboxing of the 'reality' scenes is EXACTLY how the film was shown theatrically and is not a mistake. I remember how thrilling this looked in 70mm back in '83." (Thanks Bill!)


NOTE: Sent in from James (via Wikipedia - interview with Trumbull) ""The film was conceived as an introduction to Trumbull's Showscan 60 frame/s 70mm process. 'In movies people often do flashbacks and point-of-view shots as a gauzy, mysterious, distant kind of image," Trumbull recalled, "And I wanted to do just the opposite, which was to make the material of the mind even more real and high-impact than "reality".' However, MGM backed out of plans to release the experimental picture in the new format. Trumbull instead shot the virtual reality sequences in 24 frame/s Super Panavision 70 with an aspect ratio of 2.2:1. The rest of the film was shot in conventional 35mm with an aspect ratio of approximately 1.7 to 1.""

















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3350 kbps easily handles the films effects and dialogue. There are some instances where separation is noted and depth creeps in but these are definitely the exception. James Horner's score benefits from the lossless upgrade sounding tight and clean. The is a Spanish DUB and optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Nothing but an SD trailer.



Interesting concept and solid star performers although there seemed to be an element missing to give the overall story some cohesiveness. Whether the picture-boxing effect was intentional or not I founds it distracting.  There is still plenty to appreciate here and the Blu-ray is well-priced for those keen to indulge. 

Gary Tooze

June 23rd, 2012


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze






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