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Altered States Blu-ray

United States
Warner Bros. | 1980 | 103 min | Rated R | Jul 10, 2012

Altered States (Blu-ray)
Large:


Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (20.96 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles
English SDH, French, Spanish

Discs
25GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)

Playback
Region free

Price
List price: $19.98, Price history
Amazon: $14.99 (Save 25%)
New from: $12.27 (Save 39%)
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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
7.4
88
ratings.


Blu-ray rating
Video 4.2 of 54.2
Audio 4.1 of 54.1
Extras 1.3 of 51.3
Based on 3 user reviews

Movie appeal

 
Horror100%
Psychological thriller27%
Surreal19%
Thriller-
Sci-Fi-
Drama-
Fantasy-
63%
popularity
744
collections
23
fans




Altered States

 (1980)

Altered States Blu-ray delivers great video and audio in this excellent Blu-ray release

An American researching different states of consciousness with the aid of mind altering drugs and an isolation chamber begins to experience disturbing physical changes in his body that point toward an evolutionary regression.

For more about Altered States and the Altered States Blu-ray release, see Altered States Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.

Starring: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Drew Barrymore, John Larroquette
Director: Ken Russell

» See full cast & crew


Altered States Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

I saw Altered States when it first appeared in theaters in December 1980, and I still remember the experience vividly. The image on Warner's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray is a faithful rendition, but it's likely to strike new viewers as unusually dark. Rest assured that it's supposed to be. The cinematographer, Jordan Cronenweth, was just a few years away from shooting Blade Runner, another dark movie; Cronenweth was never afraid of dialing down the lighting on a scene, because he knew how to capture good detail and appropriate shadows even with minimal illumination.

The purpose of the darkened scenes should be evident from the film's opening shot, which shows Jessup's face distorted through the window of the flotation tank in New York, surrounded by a bright blue-green light. Darkness and flat, dull colors in the everyday world establish a strong contrast with the brightly lit and intense, often psychedelic colors of Jessup's alternate universe(s). Indeed, one never knows where light will fall around Jessup, and whether it will be false or hallucinatory. When Emily first sees him at Arnold and Sylvia Rosenberg's party, Jessup is entering from outside, and he's bathed in a brilliant, white light as if he had just descended from heaven. The effect is both hokey and startling, but it aptly conveys the effect that the handsome young visionary has on Emily. A later and more elaborate sequence that recalls the "star gate" journey in Kubrick's 2001 (but with imagery that's more organic and less geometrically abstract) uses vividly saturated color to convey the depth of Jessup's journey to . . . somewhere else.

Black levels and shadow detail are strong enough so that a tricky nighttime sequence involving a pursuit in the basement of a Harvard Medical School building and through the streets of Boston combines precisely the right amount of the visible and the concealed. Contrast levels are correctly set so that harshly lit and overexposed inserts like the quick shots of Eddie and Emily Jessup dressed as Victorians in Eddie's Mexican hallucination don't have their detail blown out. In motion, though not so readily in screencaps, the film's grain structure does not appear to have been artificially reduced or otherwise manipulated, although the image is frequently softened by the numerous opticals and other requirements of effects in the pre-CG era. I didn't spot any compression errors (but, let's face it, the rapid-fire editing in some sequences could hide a multitude of sins).


Altered States Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.0 of 5

Like Outland, Altered States was released in both Dolby Stereo and six-track sound on a 70mm blow-up; the latter utilized Warner's short-lived "Megasound" format, which enhanced the low frequencies for major effects. The Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 5.1 track is probably taken from the six-track mix, very likely the Megasound version, because the bass extension is impressively deep and the surround field is used aggressively to extend and amplify the impact of Eddie Jessup's hallucinations and their physical manifestations. Of particular note is the unusual score by classical composer John Corigliano, who would later win an Oscar for scoring The Red Violin. Corigliano's score is constructed in such a manner that it sometimes blends indistinguishably with otherworldly sound effects being produced by Jessup's visions. The result can be unsettling, to such a degree that when, at a critical moment in the film, all sound abruptly halts and the track goes silent, you're both relieved and frightened.

The dialogue is always clear, except when two characters are shouting over each other. Screenwriter Chayevsky apparently objected to the loud and fast speaking style that Russell directed the cast to adopt, which is an interesting perspective from the author of Network.



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