My Favorite Movie of All Time
With Professor All Knowing
One of the biggest challenges that we face as human beings is our ability to communicate clearly with one another. Advancements in technology has allowed us to communicate faster, with a larger number of people at once, and by utilizing several different methods. But has technology improved our ability to understand the beliefs of others by looking at these beliefs from the other person’s perspective?
Most people believe that they have a clear view of reality and how things work. But all of us are born into this world like visitors to an alien planet. We start collecting data even before we take our first breath. Our perception of reality is shaped by what we learn or experience. This incoming knowledge is filtered through the prism of our physical and mental capabilities, along with our own personalities.
We find comfort in what has become familiar and often fear what is new and unknown. The experiences and knowledge that we gain continue to shape our perception of the world and the people around us. Each of us view reality through a unique pair of glasses created by what we have come to know up to that point. Perception alters how we view other people, and in turn how they view us.
Our perception is our reality. When you feel that you are misunderstood and that how others view you is not accurate, please remember that both they and you are judging yourself based upon different views of reality. Their perception of you may improve the more that they get to know you, and understand you. It might be helpful if you could see yourself as others do. Your actions may be sending messages to other people that in conflict with the person that you feel that you are, or the person that you hope to be.
Is it possible for a member of the racial majority of this country to fully understand what it is like to grow up and live as a minority citizen in America? Is it possible for a male to fully understand the challenges one faces being female in society today; or can a women fully understand what it is like to be a man? what if full understanding was actually possible?
I was first attracted to the 1983 film “Brainstorm” due to the Sci-Fi technology contained within it. The device that was being developed in the movie was such an advanced concept that it still has not been perfected (as far as I know), thirty years later. It is likely still in the development stages along with time machines and teleportation devices. The second aspect of this movie that attracted me was how it highlighted some of the business decisions involved in scientific discoveries. Having taught both business and information technology classes to college students before, this attraction was understandable.
The movie starts with the testing of a device that is very cumbersome, but the intention is to allow a person in a remote location to experience what another person is experiencing with their known senses. When one person is eating food, the other person can taste the food. If the one person is standing in water, the other person can feel the water against their skin. At first, the experiences must be shared in real time. Soon these experiences are able to be recorded and saved for future playback.
The first practical use for this device was to create a library of taped experiences that people could enjoy like a mini vacation from the first-hand perspective without the cost, inconvenience, or possible danger of doing the activity themselves. But as they continued to test their new inventions they discovered that it had potential far beyond anything that they had imagined.
The co-inventor of the device Dr. Michael Brace (played by Christopher Walken) was recently separated from his wife Karen Brace (played by Natalie Wood) who worked at the same company as a product designer. Although they had grown apart and were headed for a divorce, they were required to work together in the development and design refinement of this new invention. Michael Brace was concerned only about the scientific discovery, while Karen Brace searched for ways to reduce its size, and make its design more commercially appealing.
It was later discovered that more than just the experience of an event was being saved to tape. Anyone could run the tape and experience the event; but they could do so from the perspective of the person who was recorded. A lifetime of memories could be recorded in mere moments. If Abraham Lincoln had recorded his delivery of the Gettysburg Address, others could experience this event, but they could also experience it from the mind of Abraham Lincoln himself.
A person’s knowledge and skills could be transferred as well. Karen Brace recorded herself playing the piano. When Michael Brace viewed the tape he suddenly was able to play the piano as well. Imagine the possibilities for education. They create a tape for each other that in essence records who they are. Both of them are able to view their life together, but from the other person’s perspective. At first they object to how they are viewed by their spouse during arguments. But as the barriers to communication come tumbling down, they are able to truly “walk in each other’s shoes.” They realize that the good that they have shared together vastly outweighs their differences which they can now fully understand. Needless to say, the plan to divorce was cancelled.
Louise Fletcher (who was Nurse Ratched in One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), plays the chain-smoking co-inventor of the device, Lillian Reynolds who has heart issues. She is concerned about their invention being corrupted for military use. She has a heart-attack in the laboratory and ends up recording her own death. The movie continues with Michael Brace attempting to stop the military from taking over their project, and regain access to the tape to experience Lillian Reynolds’s death.
Even though I enjoyed the intrigue involved in out-smarting the military, and the concept of discovering what it is like to die, the key attraction of this movie for me was the possibility of eliminating a major wall that still exists in communication, as well as the ability to fully understand people based on their perception of life.
Natalie Wood drowned during a boating trip while Brainstorm was still in production. Her husband Robert Wagner, and co-star Christopher Walken were both with her on the boat during the night of her drowning. Her death shocked the world, and caused the film to be delayed by two years as the producers and director had to complete the project avoiding any new scenes or retakes that would require Natalie Wood. Fortunately, almost every scene that required her in it had already been filmed. The circumstances and events leading to her death are still in question today.
I hope that you enjoyed this movie review; and I look forward to reading your comments!
Professor All Knowing