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Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro. Filled with Terry Gilliam's trademark humor and visual inventiveness, Brazil takes place in a futuristic world where individualism is revoked by a controlling state. In spite of it all, a civil servant dreams of overcoming the bureaucracy, winning over the woman he loves and reinstating true justice. A satirical, imaginative and ambitious film. 1985/color/131 min/NR/widescreen.
If Franz Kafka had been an animator and film director--oh, and a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus--this is the sort of outrageously dystopian satire one could easily imagine him making. However, Brazil was made by Terry Gilliam, who is all of the above except, of course, Franz Kafka. Be that as it may, Gilliam sure captures the paranoid-subversive spirit of Kafka's The Trial (along with his own Python animation) in this bureaucratic nightmare-comedy about a meek governmental clerk named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) whose life is destroyed by a simple bug. Not a software bug, a real bug (no doubt related to Kafka's famous Metamorphosis insect) that gets smooshed in a printer and causes a typographical error unjustly identifying an innocent citizen, one Mr. Buttle, as suspected terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro). When Sam becomes enmeshed in unraveling this bureaucratic glitch, he himself winds up labeled as a miscreant.
The movie presents such an unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of 20th-century bureaucracy that it almost became a victim of small-minded studio management itself--until Gilliam surreptitiously screened his cut for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who named it the best movie of 1985 and virtually embarrassed Universal into releasing it. This DVD version of Brazil is the special director's cut that first appeared in Criterion's comprehensive (and expensive) six-disc laser package in 1996. Although the DVD (at a fraction of the price) doesn't include that set's many extras, it's still a bargain. --Jim Emerson
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The scene in the fancy restaraunt is absolutely full of memorable vignettes, but what strikes me most is after the bomb goes off and most of the diners simply choose not to acknowledge that everything is not perfectly fine. The orchestra members -- some of them a little charred -- pick up their instruments and continue playing a nice upbeat melody. The staff bring ready-at-hand screens so the diners need not be upset by the sight of the dead and dying.
But the dream fights with the Asian metal monster (representing what, exactly?) instantly put me straight into a narcoleptic sleep. Gilliam uses similar sequences in (all?) of his movies -- the lead character fighting with his demons. Note to Terry Gilliam: There has GOT to be a better way for you to show inner struggle / insanity. Please! Even the flight sequences are too much. Jonathan Pryce's facial expressions are sufficiant. Oh well... like I say, I truely love this movie... but...
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on what happens when government gets too big.
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