Friday, April 11, 2008
I've recently succumbed to a vague impulse to see again, after a gap of 27 years, the film Altered States.
As a younger man, I found the film entertaining, if rather overblown and somewhat pretentious.
And I suppose all of that still applies. But this time around the film, I've realized, makes some fairly compelling claims on its viewers, and despite Ken Russell's (as ever) hoary, heavy-handed direction, Altered States feels in some ways credible, somehow authentic. I've read some of the old reviews of the film, and the fairly thorough Wiki entry, and was pleased to find that renegade scientist John C. Lilly approved of the film. In fact, Lilly alleges that screenplay writer Paddy Chayefsky may have seen the galleys for Lilly's book The Scientist, which describes very similar events surrounding Lilly's own isolation tank experiments. Lilly is, characteristically, high-minded about the whole affair.
At any rate, I do recommend seeing Altered States (the Mexican magic mushroom scenes alone are worth the price of a DVD rental), and anyone can read more about the film here.