Year: 1983

Production: A JF Production / MGM / UA

Director: Douglas Trumbull

Starring: Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson

Screenwriter: Robert Stitzel, Philip Frank Messina

Based on a story by Bruce Joel Rubin

106 minutes; Color

A virtual-reality device is invented which faithfully records human experiences (including the accompanying emotions) and allows them to be re-experienced by another person. This promising notion is frittered away - first because, despite Trumbull's special-effect expertise, the cinematic equivalent of these experiences is just like old-fashioned Cinerama and has no emotional content at all (obviously); second because the device is largely used to reconcile husband and wife by replaying the one's banal romantic feelings for the other; third because, after the wife dies, thoughtfully recording her death experience en passant, we get to share her experience. This playback, supposedly almost lethal to the viewer, shows that the last great journey consists of cute bubbles with pictures inside them. Natalie Wood, who plays the wife, drowned while filming was still in progress, which necessitated a few last-minute rewrites that do not work. Rubin, writer of the original story, was obviously obsessed by afterlife experiences, and went on to script, among others, Ghost (1990) and Jacob's Ladder (1991).

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction

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