Altered States

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Released 1980

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Movie Summary

Director:
Ken Russell
Released:
1980
Rating:
R
Altered States is a dark 1980 drama starring William Hurt as a Harvard researcher using his own mind as a test subject. Professor Eddie Jessup (William Hurt) decides he wants to explore consciousness through the use of hallucinogenic drugs inside an isolation tank. Jessup believes he has entered a world beyond intellect, he experiences profound visions, some blasphemous, some primal, with each experiment taking him deeper into an alternative world. His wife, Emily (Blair Brown), begins to notice strange changes when he is outside the tank and in his physical state. Concerned for his well-being, she tries, along with his colleagues Arthur Rosenberg (Bob Balaban) and Mason Parrish (Charles Haid), to convince him to stop before damaging his mind and his reputation. After one startling trip, Jessup emerges from the tank transformed and goes on a rampage, but still insists on taking the experiment further. Director Ken Russell ("Tommy") directs this psychedelic horror story from writer Paddy Chayefsky ("Network").

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Metacritic Score

  • 88

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Altered States is a superbly silly movie, a magnificent entertainment, and a clever and brilliant machine for making us feel awe, fear, and humor.

  • 63

    Slant Magazine Glenn Heath Jr.

    The most interesting dimension of Altered States has to be the way Russell sexualizes Eddie's relationship with godly figures, most notably symbols of Jesus, crucifixion, and his f...

  • 50

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Jay Scott

    Altered States can be accused of many things, but never of harboring a new idea. Because the script's lessons have been drowned in fruity religious imagery, Altered States is at mo...

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Themes

Cult, Psychological