Lights! Camera! Lumia Action!

Lumia has appeared as a visual effect for several science fiction movies of which the two reviewed in this blog include include Brainstorm (1983) and Life Force – Space Vampires (1985). A separate blog posting deals with the two other movies: Solaris (2002), and recently Tree of Life (2010).

In Lumia’s pure form its sensuous swirling illuminated lightscapes present itself with the mysterious look of an almost spiritual presence. Within cinema, a viewer gazing upon a Lumia image is often taken by its visceral presence as a gateway to “some other place,” a place where one can only look at and wonder, but never visit.

Apparently Hollywood has had the same reaction, and relegated it to a visual effect reflecting a mysterious and other worldly look of some spiritual effigy. In the early years of its cinemagraphic presence, Lumia was created as an analog effect, filmed in some mad artist’s lab, usually with laser light show projectors. Displayed on a screen, these various Lumia effects were then manipulated and edited to conform to its spiritual vision within the movie it was cast for.

For the curious Lumia aficionado, I’ve identified four of the more popular cinemagraphic expressions of Lumia; check them out at your local video store or Netflix, get some popcorn, and kick back at Hollywood’s idea of a luminous good time.



Brainstorm is a 1983 science fiction film directed by Douglas Trumbull and starring Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher and Cliff Robertson.

A team of scientists invents “the Hat”, a brain/computer interface that allows sensations to be recorded from a person’s brain and converted to tape so that others can experience these ‘life events.’ In the process of developing the prototype into a commercial product, one of the team members, Lillian Reynolds (Fletcher). stresses out and suffers a heart attack while working alone. Realizing that help cannot reach her in time, she dons the Hat and records her experience as she dies. Because of the nature of this ‘brain machine,’ a recording of Lillian’s transformation to the afterlife is recorded.

Once the recording is discovered, another scientist loads it into a playback machine, to encounter Lillian’s transcendent experience. To his awe, he bears witness to the afterlife as Lillian experiences traveling away from Earth and through the universe and ultimately, witnessing visions of angels and departed souls flying into a great cosmic light. The scenic lightscape of departing souls and cosmic light (you guessed it) is presented via several Lumia images.




Lifeforce is a 1985 science fiction film directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Dan O’Bannon and Don Jakoby, based on Colin Wilson’s 1976 novel, The Space Vampires. The film’s special effects were produced by Academy Award winner John Dykstra. Featuring Steve Railsback, Peter Firth, Frank Finlay, Mathilda May, and Patrick Stewart, the film portrays the events that unfold “after a trio of humanoids are brought to earth and are not as they appear to seem. The movie’s title says it all. A vampire-zombie movie decades before these twin themes came to the forefront of popular culture and fantasy cult entertainment.

As the film opens, the crew of a space rescue operation discovers three “humans” in suspended animation. Brought back to earth and revived (Bad Move), the humans are anything but. GASP – they are actually alien vampires who set out to capture and transform earth’s local populations (nope – not making this up) into zombie slaves for some insidious alien purpose.

As the vampires go about collecting the ‘life force’ of each victim, the energy field is represented as a Lumia pattern that streams from the victim into the space vampire, etc. Gonna need a lot of popcorn to get through this film.



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