FADE IN on a close up of an eyeball. At first, only the pupil can be seen, but we slowly zoom out to reveal the whites of the patient’s eyes. Each is attached to a metal clip which draw the lids back. We continue to zoom out to reveal a large metal contraption on the subject’s head. A man with a clipboard stands next to the subject, about to flip a switch.
MAN: This will only hurt a little bit.
That’s the opening of my latest short film. What do you think? I just started writing it this morning, and already I’ve story boarded the opening sequence. It’s going to be a Hitchcockian psycho thriller with some hints of early David Fincher. This is the one that will put Robert Walton on the map as a filmmaker.
Editing the latest episode of Frankenstein, MD got me thinking about brain stimulation. As a film student, the subject is particularly fascinating. It’s inspired some of the most creative, compelling works of art over the years. If you think about it, it’s easy to see why. The brain is really the final frontier of the imagination. If we can control the brain, we have access to memories, thoughts, experiences. All these possibilities bring up the question of self and identity. Your identity is formed from your memories of past experiences, right? But, if those can be modified, implanted, erased, etc., then that can completely alter your identity. And if your identity is altered, then who are you? What if I can put my experiences into your brain as your memories? Then are you me? And if that’s the case, who am I? Pretty heavy for a Monday, right?
Here, I’ve culled a few of my favorite depictions of brain stimulation for your viewing pleasure.
1) A Clockwork Orange
Hard to watch, right? Well, that’s what Kubrick was going for. He wanted it to be so visceral that you had to look away while watching it. Little fun bit of film trivia for you: The doctor standing over Alex in that clip was a doctor in real life, who was hired to make sure that Malcom McDowell’s eyes didn’t dry up when they were held open. His eyes were numbed so he could hold them open for hours at a time, but his corneas still got scratched and he experienced temporary blindness. Now THAT’s method acting.
2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The idea behind this movie is so brilliant. What if you could completely erase a bad memory from your brain? It couldn’t bother you anymore, it wouldn’t haunt you in the middle of the night. But here’s the catch: you’d erase all the great memories associated with it. If that meant Kate Winslet had to be erased from mine, I’d say thanks but no thanks.
This might not be the most, um, realistic portrayal of brain stimulation, but Will Ferrell in that hairdo gets me every time. And now that song will be in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome. Zoolander is a psychedelic tribute to the classic film The Manchurian Candidate.
4) The Manchurian Candidate
We watched this in my American Classics course last year, and it’s a mind-blowingly cool movie about an American soldier who gets brainwashed during the Korean war and turns into an assassin. Sadly, there’s no Mila Jovovich in a nurse outfit in it, but it’s seriously on my top 10 Best Movies of All Time list. The opening scene is one of the coolest opening sequences ever, hands down. You don’t actually get to see any brainwashing in it, but… SPOILER ALERT: you see the consequences. It’s a little bit long, but believe me, you won’t regret it.
Is your mind blown yet? It should be. If it wasn’t, go watch it again. I’m going to get back to working on my masterpiece. Til next time, stay tuned!
Filed in: Extras