Altered States

Altered States

Directed by Ken Russell

Starring William Hurt

Production Budget:


Total Lifetime Grosses:

Domestic:  $19,853,892

Release Date: December 25, 1980

Although now very dated, I found this film to be quite interesting. Ken Russell has a style of his own which is prominent in all of his films. The stories are usually dispersed with some form of subconscious interlude. Whether it is a dream or a drug induced hallucination. In this story William Hurt goes into a mescaline trance with the American Indians in order to discover his ‘soul self’. During his hallucinations is an amazing image where a woman arched on her belly, and the main character both turn into sand and crumble away slowly with the wind.

The effect was very simple but what impressed me about it was its subtlety. Something lacking these days in our present overblown and bombastic productions. The transition between flesh and sand was seamless. So smooth it was an unexpected shock. It wasn’t violent, as many metamorphoses have been portrayed and it wasn’t as tacky as the modern ‘morphing’ digital effect that was adopted with the second terminator movie.

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