The Terminal Man (film)

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The Terminal Man
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Hodges
Produced by Mike Hodges
Written by Mike Hodges
Based on The Terminal Man 
by Michael Crichton
Starring George Segal
Joan Hackett
Richard A. Dysart
Donald Moffat
Michael C. Gwynne
William Hansen
Jill Clayburgh
Cinematography Richard H. Kline
Edited by Robert L. Wolfe
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • June 19, 1974 (1974-06-19)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Terminal Man is a 1974 film directed by Mike Hodges, based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It stars George Segal. The story centers on the immediate dangers of mind control and the power of computers.


Harry Benson, an extremely intelligent (IQ 144) computer programmer in his 30s, suffers from epilepsy. He often has seizures which induce a blackout, after which he awakens to unfamiliar surroundings with no knowledge of what he has done. He also suffers from delusions that computers will rise up against humans.

Benson suffers from Acute Disinhibitory Lesion (ADL) syndrome, and is a prime candidate for an operation known as "Stage Three". Stage Three requires surgeons to implant electrodes in his brain and connect them to a miniature computer in his chest which is meant to control the seizures. The operation is presented with no musical score; the only sounds are from the surgeons, from the medical procedure itself, and from medical students viewing from above. The surgery is a success.

Benson's psychiatrist, Janet Ross, is concerned that once the operation is complete, Benson will suffer further psychosis as a result of his person merging with that of a computer, something he has come to distrust and disdain. Shortly before he can fully recover, Harry suffers a relapse and his electrode malfunctions while his brain has more severe seizures, making him more violent and dangerous.


Crichton was originally hired to adapt the novel himself, but Warner Bros. felt he had departed from the source material too much and had another writer adapt it.[1] "I don't think they [Warner Bros] gave it a chance," said Crichton later.[2]

Director's cut[edit]

The director's cut omits the scene in which the doctors explain the cause of Harry's seizures. Hodges did not like the scene, believing it spoon-fed the audience. Warner Brothers felt that the story needed it, and that the audience would not understand or like Harry Benson without the scene. The director's cut was shown at the 2003 Edinburgh Film Festival and at the ICA cinema in London in 2008. It was also screened in 2011 in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne at the Mike Hodges retrospective to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Get Carter.[3]


The original film version was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. in June 1974. It was released on VHS by Warner Home Video in 1993. Warner Bros. released it on DVD in 2009 as part of its Warner Archive series. Viewers were offered a choice between on-demand streaming or a DVD-R created on a per-sale basis. Regarding the quality, Warner's website states it was "manufactured from the best-quality video master currently available and has not been remastered or restored specifically for this DVD and On Demand release."[citation needed]

Terrence Malick, the director of Badlands, wrote to Hodges expressing how much he loved watching The Terminal Man, saying "Your images make me understand what an image is."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Director Michael Crichton Films a Favorite Novelist, by Michael Owen. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 January 1979: D17.
  2. ^ An author of pleasurable fear: Michael Crichton takes fiction where you wouldn't want to go Gorner, Peter. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 24 June 1987: D1.
  3. ^ Mitchell, Wendy. "Mike Hodges One on One". Screen Daily, One on One, 14 March 2011. Emap Ltd. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  4. ^ Kaplan, Mike. "Encounters With Mike Hodges Via Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman and Terrence Malick". Huffington Post, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 

External links[edit]