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Sometime in the future: Eight people with telepathic powers are brought
to a research facility where their powers as well as theories on the
subject are to be tested. Brain surgery is performed on some of them to
remove their power of speech to see if their telepathic powers are
increased by that, others are put under telepathic deprivation, yet others
are given aphrodisiacs and the like, just to see what they do to them -
and the whole experiment eventually ends in chaos, with two of the test
persons cdommitting suicide, the others reacting increasingly violent to
one another. The whole experiment is watched by a group of unseen
scientists who show little emotion one way or another, merely observe and
soberly explain what's going on in their reports ...
I feel obliged to say that Stereo is not a very accessible film,
it's made up from black-and-white silent footage of the experiment and
offscreen voices explaining what we're supposed to see and the (made-up)
science behind it - yet the explanations don't necessarily have much to do
with the actual onscreen goings-on and over stretches we are actually left
without any explanations at all (and no music or other sounds either) - so
no, this is not your typical ESP science fiction film ... and yet, Stereo
is weirdly fascinating, the discrepancies between the things going on
onscreen and the offscreen commentary make it oddly hypnotic, the
labyrinthine plot that never seems to fully open itself up to the audience
also keeps one'S eyes glued to the screen, and with his careful choice of
backdrops, sets and camera angles, David Cronenberg, whose debut feature
this was, proves himself a promising young director - a promise he has
kept over the years.