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Altered States

Where to Watch Altered States


Released in 1980, Altered States is a compelling blend of science fiction, horror, and drama that leaves viewers questioning the limits of human consciousness and reality. With its potent mix of traditional narrative and avant-garde visual effects, it's a surreal cinema experience crafted by Director Ken Russell and a cast that includes William Hurt, Blair Brown, and Bob Balaban. The film is as much an exploration of the mind as it is of the heart, with its central theme revolving around the yearning for self-discovery and the costs that come with it.

In his striking film debut, William Hurt stars as Edward Jessup, a brilliant and eccentric scientist intrigued by altered states of consciousness. His character is passionate to the point of obsession, with an insatiable curiosity that drives him to go far beyond the boundaries of normal research. Jessup begins experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs in isolation tanks, leading to extreme psychological and physical transformations that push the boundaries of known science and plunge him into the depths of the human psyche and beyond.

Blair Brown plays Emily Jessup, Edward's loving and devoted wife, who also happens to be an anthropologist. Her character stands as a grounding and stability presence against Edward's reckless explorations, always trying to pull him back to the realities of their shared life. Emily's portrayal is a captivating mix of strength, vulnerability, and intelligence as she grapples with Edward's growing obsession and the subsequent toll it takes on their relationship.

Bob Balaban's character, Arthur Rosenberg, is an endearing colleague and friend of Edward, characterized by his sincere concern for Edward's well-being. As the voice of scientific reason in the face of Edward's explorations, Balaban's measured performance adds a much-needed sense of balance to the narrative.

The movie's premise is built on unique concepts about human consciousness, largely based Philip K. Dick-style science fiction and thematic elements of transcendental horror. Its themes deal with the nature of human identity, the limits of scientific understanding, and the timeless struggle between our primordial existence and our intellectual capacity as humans.

Altered States is better-known for its psychedelic visuals sequences that brilliantly recreate the hallucinogenic experiences Edward goes through in his explorations. Russell's bold use of innovative cinematography, wild colors, and groundbreaking special effects create a truly mesmerizing world that challenges every conventional assumption about reality. The entrancing score composed by John Corigliano heightens these sequences by amplifying the intensity of Jessup’s psychological journey.

Beyond its visual spectacle, Altered States also offers a deep dive into complex characters and their relationships. While it skillfully walks the tightrope between science fiction and horror, its real triumph lies in the human drama at its heart. At its core, it tells the story of a man torn between his felt needs for human connection and his relentless desire to know more about what lies beyond the perceived world.

The performances of the entire cast are stellar, with Hurt's portrayal of an obsessed scientist perfect in its severity and the depth of transformation he undergoes. Balaban is also impressive in the role of a rational scientist, and Brown's simultaneous warmth and strength brings depth to her character.

Above all else, Altered States is an intellectual and visual feast for viewers who enjoy films that not only entertain but also provoke thought. The intense fusion of special effects, thought-provoking narrative, strong performances, and atmospheric music makes it a must-see for fans of psychological thrillers and science fiction. The film is a visually and emotionally absorbing journey that examines the frontiers of human cognition and potential, leaving viewers to ponder the fine line between perception and reality, intelligence and instinct.

From the outset, Altered States pushes boundaries, in both story and cinema technique, promising a viewing experience that is as extraordinary as it is unsettling. It remains a memorable milestone in the genre of psychological thrillers, a unique exploration of the mind's vast and uncharted territories, largely on account of its striking visual storytelling setup and thought-incenses plot. This is a film journey into the extraordinary world of Altered States.

Altered States is a Horror, Science Fiction, Thriller movie released in 1980. It has a runtime of 102 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.9. It also holds a MetaScore of 58.

How to Watch Altered States

Where can I stream Altered States movie online? Altered States is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Altered States for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Ken Russell
William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Thaao Penghlis, Miguel Godreau, Dori Brenner, Peter Brandon, Charles White-Eagle, Drew Barrymore, Megan Jeffers
Also starring Blair Brown
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