47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
When the Bandages Come Off,
This review is from: Brazil (Fully Restored with Bonus Footage) (DVD)
Produced in 1985, "Brazil" is a black (and bleak) comedy about a future gone eerily awry. A future that, since this is 2002, is already coming true around us. Terry Gilliam's brilliant, colorfully retro vision of the future has little in common with the styling of Orwell's "1984," but deep inside the message is the nearly the same. The only real difference is that, unlike Orwell, Gilliam believes that the one fragile hope is the durability of the human imagination.
The opening scenes of the film reveal a manic world, where a bug (literally) in the works triggers the spectacular arrest of one Archibald Buttle, whose off-screen death under interrogation triggers a flurry of clerical paperwork. The world we see is fascinating, full of automation nearly gone berserk and the hapless human machinery that fills in the gaps. In this world, one may not only face hard interrogation, but be billed for that service as well. When Buttle, mistaken for terrorist Harry Tuttle, suffers a heart attack under questioning, Information Retrieval issues a refund. However, his wife's lack of a bank account triggers a series of complications. Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), a daydreaming bureaucrat in the Ministry of Information, takes up the task of resolving the situation by hand delivering the check.
Harry faces many delightfully comic situations on his quest, as machinery refuses to function for him and the people in his world seem to treat him as something not quite socially acceptable. But all of this is brought up sharply when he finally confronts the widow. "My husband's dead, is he," she cries, "What have you done with his body?" Suddenly we are confronted with the truth. The surface is only a surface. As in "The Matrix," once you are past it something horrific looms. "Brazil" will continue to play this theme throughout. Walls conceal semi-organic, hostile masses of tubes and ductwork, room dividers separate upper-class diners from the gory reality of a terrorist bombing. Masses of plastic surgery cover the flaws of aging beauty.
It is no surprise that Harry falls victim to his own daydreams. Looking up through a hole in Mrs. Buttle's ceiling Lowry spies the face of the woman of his dreams, Jill the truck driver, played wonderfully by Kim Geist. In his desperate attempts to track her down, Sam transfers into the dark world of Information Retrieval. There, aided my his friend Jack Lint (Michael Palin), he finds out what he needs, but inadvertently sets in motion a series of events that can only be describes as a burlesque apocalypse. Layer after layer of his society's illusions collapse around him and Jill with humorous, but nightmarish precision.
Terry Gilliam has proven himself a genius at using dark humor and sarcasm to engage in a plot that would be horribly difficult otherwise. As in "The Fisher King," we laugh and snicker right up until we confront the truth. "Brazil" is a brilliant example of this. Full of the imaginative imagery of a retro-future world and great acting by a cast that includes the likes of Robert De Niro and Katherine Helmond it is an experience that stuns the sensibilities while bringing home its message. In his notes, Gilliam calls this a light-hearted nightmare. One will haunt you for some time to come.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 25, 2007 9:05:51 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 19, 2009 10:31:37 AM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 22, 2007 5:14:39 PM PDT
Marc Ruby™ says:
I think that's what I said!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2007 3:59:42 AM PST
R. M. Aarons says:
Marc wrote "Harry" in two places where he obviously meant "Sam". But he didn't get the last names mixed up.
Otherwise, a useful review.
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