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The Battle of Brazil: Terry Gilliam v. Universal Pictures in the Fight to the Final Cut (The Applause Screenplay Series) Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: The Applause Screenplay Series
  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Applause Theatre & Cinema Books; Revised edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557833478
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557833471
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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It's really good, covering the fight to release the director's cut of the film.
SPM
Even if you don't think much of the film BRAZIL, if you love interesting films and want to know why it's rare to see one come out, read this book.
Amazon Customer
Mathews' wonderful tome includes an original shooting script with some magnificent deleted sequences.
Greg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Based on the reviews so far, I bought this book from Amazon.com and received it yesterday. It was so gripping, I finished it that evening. After seeing films like THE PLAYER and talking to aquaintences who like predictable movies with happy endings, I figured the big studios discouraged original, thought-provoking films. But this book shows how they try to rationalize it. I liked how Jack Mathews tried to be objective and show both sides and I was amazed at the differences between LA and NY critics and how they affect films. Talk about too many cooks in the kitchen!
Even if you don't think much of the film BRAZIL, if you love interesting films and want to know why it's rare to see one come out, read this book. I'm sure Terry Gilliam isn't alone in his battles with studios and critics. If you did like BRAZIL, you'll also get a glimpse of Gilliam's creativity with some of his storyboards, plus you get the entire script of the film with some annotations. After reading this book, I got a great behind-the-scenes look of not only how a film comes about, but how it gets marketed to the public as well.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Ellis on September 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Terry Gilliam's satirical film (usually referred to as being science fiction though its actually the furthest from that) Brazil is one of the greatest unseen film of the past few decades. While the film has a strong cult following, most mainstream audiences never had a chance to see this film and the few that did found themselves confronted not with Gilliam's original vision but instead with a severely shortened and defanged bastardization that was edited under the supervision of less-than-visionary studio head Sid Sheinberg.
How this came to be is the subject of Jack Matthews' fascinating book, The Battle of Brazil which follows the creation of this masterpiece from the germ of inspiration to the film's triumphant success at the 1985 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards. Along the way, we get a wonderful view into the heads of both Gilliam and Sheinberg. (Though the book is clearly on Gilliam's side, Sheinberg is not presented extremely unfairly. If he comes across as a bit of an unimaginative ogre at times -- well, that's because he was.) We get the full details of Gilliam's battles with Sheinberg over both the length and the tone of the film and, in one of the book's best chapters, an in-depth analysis of the differences between the two versions. This chapter, I think, beautifully illustrates how, just through selective editing, you can change the entire feel of a film without reshooting a single shot. Much as how you can't help staring at a car wreck, there's a sick fascination with how Sheinberg was able to change Brazil from one of the greatest films of all time to a bland, unmemorable love story without any apparent sense of humor.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul E. Harrison on August 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Neither side comes out as particularly positive in this story of how a furious film director prevented a studio from ripping his work to meaningless shreds in the name of commercial popularism, but there's no doubting where Mathews stands on the subject.
The description associated with this item gives some idea of what the story is about (Boy makes film, Boy loses film to studio, Boy fights studio, studio finally releases film.) Mathews presents the story as factually as he can, from the point of view of someone who clearly loves what Gilliam had made.
The Battle of Brazil section itself is reasonably brief but manages to capture the spirit of the events, painting portraits of the major players in the events, their backgrounds and concerns. No party is painted either as a monster or a saint, though Mathews isn't shy about suggesting 1984 newspeak parallels for some of Sheinberg's defenses.
The second half of the book is a/the script of (almost all) of the final director's cut of Brazil. I spotted a missing sequence or two but for the most part it's there, essentially unabridged, with annotations on opposing pages describing anything from anecdotes, how the script evolved to that point, to differences between the European/American/Final cuts.
Both sections are gems, the first gives an insiders glimpse of the politics within Hollywood, the other a view of the guts of a wonderful film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
It's about time this book was back in print! And an updated version no less! The book primarily relates a blow-by-blow account of director Terry Gilliam's struggle to get studio executives to release his film "Brazil" without first 'dumbing it down' for the American market. But the book also succeeds on another level by giving you glimpses into the filmmaker's vision for the film and leaves you wondering how much more the film could have been if not for the harsh reality that movies are a business. A 'must have' for any fan of the movie.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Johnny Walker on August 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Before you go on: I love "Brazil", and think Terry Gilliam is a wonderful director.

Having heard this book mentioned in so many film articles, the legendary tale of Hollywood vs Director, I was excited to finally get my hands on a copy and devour its text. I was expecting a brutal tale of art versus business, but what was actually contained within "The Battle of Brazil" was a lot more boring.

It pains me to say this, but what's revealed is a director and producer getting very upset at being forced to what they had pre-agreed to do. As a huge Gilliam fan, I hate admitting that.

The author, Jack Matthews, may try and skip over these less-mythic events as quickly as possible, in order to try and keep the legend alive, but there's no escaping the fact that Gilliam's producer, Arnon Milchan, agreed to *everything* formally, and in writing. The big "battle" turns out to be nothing more than the head of Universal Pictures, Sid Sheinberg, exercising these pre-agreed rights, so that he might screen his version of "Brazil" before a test audience. Unless Gilliam's version rated "spectacularly higher" than Sheinberg's, then he would release that instead (but only in the USA).

A horrible situation to be in, but again, to restate the obvious, this would have been a terrible abuse of rights if Milchan (on behalf of Gilliam) hadn't already agreed to let this happen months before. So basically, if you're paying attention and read the book properly, then what's revealed isn't so much an expose of the dreadful might of the studio, as much as a series of bad decisions by the film-makers themselves. They should never have gotten themselves into this position in the first place.
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