Monday, May 28, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: Altered States (1980) - When Emotional Change Takes a Back Seat

[Quick Summary: A Harvard physician experiments with an isolation tank and a little known drug that regresses him into a primitive state.]

If The Hospital was a crazy script in a good way, Altered States was crazy in a bad way for me.

Dr. Jessup has a deep need to ferret out the science behind altered states of consciousness. [Fair enough.]

He seeks out a Mexican drug that regresses him into an ape, and even into goo. [Ok, I can buy that.]

I could stomach the extreme, far out psychological visions.

I managed the bizarre physical transformations

However, no amount of flash, sparkle,  SFX, & violence in the script could make up for the fact that Jessup has little emotional change until the end.

I soon got tired of the spectacle because I felt very far from Jessup.

He does not regret eliminating everything in his life - wife, daughters, friendships.  

He is so focused on his experiments that there is less and less story.

As the experiments got wilder and weirder, I cared less and less.  Yikes.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  The difference between The Hospital (great) vs. Altered States (so-so) was emotional change vs. less emotional change.

Altered States (1980)
by Paddy Chayefsky

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