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Brazil (The Criterion Collection)
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Pitting the imagination of a common man against the oppressive storm troopers of the Ministry of Information, this bitter parable for the Information Age is more relevant than ever. Gathering footage from both the European and American versions, Terry Gilliam has assembled the ultimate 142-minute director's cut of his most celebrated film, then annotated it with a shot-by-shot commentary on an alternate audio channel.
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. --Jim Emerson
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Criterion's 3-DVD set documents the struggle Gilliam went through to get his film shown. Disc One contains his cut of the film with an informative and entertaining commentary by the director. The second DVD contains the bulk of the extra material. Not only is Gilliam's struggle documented but also various aspects of the production are examined -- including the screenplay, costumes, art direction, etc. The final disc contains the studio's ....py cut with a film historian's audio commentary documenting why this version sucks.
Once again, Criterion comes through with an exhaustive look at an important film of modern cinema. Brazil is a brilliant satire of a dystopian society run amok by pointless bureaucracy. Anyone who has worked a souless job in an office will immediately empathise with the protagonist's plight. Like any great work of science fiction, Brazil offers more questions than answers -- not everything is wrapped up neatly, instead the viewer is left questioning certain aspects of our modern society. Great stuff.
Jonathan Pryce stars as a tiny unimportant member of a vast hyper-capitalistic society. Life is cold and dreary for everyone. All his spare time is spent dreaming of magical romantic worlds and the beautiful woman who lives there. One day, a simple beaucratic mistake causes a monumental disaster. Not that anyone cares... they just don't want to be blamed. Sent to solve the problem, or maybe to be a scapegoat, Pryce accidentally meets the literal woman of his dreams. As he pursues her, he brings suspicion on himself of being a terrorist (the scourge of the government), and his dreams begin to invade his waking thoughts.
A suprising list of talent lend themselves to the film and is written, minus Kafka and Orwell themes, by Monty Python's Terry Gilliam so expect some obvious humor and much biting satire throughout. Depressing and magical without losing it's hope, any person who can identify with the main character should find themselves entranced.
Despite being made in 1985 the special effects prove to be suprisingly effective (although easily noticed). I personally think this movie is the second best Science Fiction film, 2001 being first, and the best 1984 type movie ever made.
While both transfers are generally comparable in quality, the new Criterion edition still slightly edges out the Universal transfer for overall quality. There's still a layer of film grain apparent, especially in effects heavy portions like Sam's dream sequences, where the softness of the shots due to optical effects really stands out now. Also for sticklers of digital noise reduction, if there is any used here, it's not as apparent to scrutiny at it was in the Universal release. Best of all of course, is the gamut of Criterion extras included here, all of which come from the previous DVD release, including the studio "Love Conquers All" version and the attendant documentaries. For fans of Brazil, there is simply no question; this is the best the film has ever been to date. For people that have somehow never seen this movie, this is a good place to start.
The story finds Pryce in a hum drum position within the government.In a Walter-Mitty-ish behaviour, he often dreams of conquering a giant samurai and rescuing a beautiful girl.One day he literally sees his dream girl in real life and realizes the only way to find her is to take a promotion to a higher department.That higher department it turns out is also looking for the girl.When he finally does meet her the two try and break away.He takes her to his mothers house and returns to his work to delete her off the files so they won't look for her.When he returns his peers come looking for her and both are taken in to custody.Pryce is interrogated by a good friend of his,but it is interrupted by an outside group who rescue them. They flee and live in an idyllic abode way in the country,but this scene is cut short as we find Pryce is really back in the interrogation chair.As the film ends he is oblivious to all around him,and enjoying his new reality and humming the title song.
Was the entire film just a dream of Pryce's mind?Or was it a dream from the interrogation onward?The film is open to many interpretations,and symbolism and sly movie and literary references are everywhere.Terry Gilliam himself makes a brief cameo as what modern X-Files fans would call,Cancer or Cigarette man.The phrase"We're all in it together" that DeNiro speaks and is on a poster, is oh so true of our world.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This review applies to Brazil (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] ASIN: B009D004X6.
An amazing, funny, adventure, love story, and I'd say surreal & wacky with some... Read more
Brazil is an excellent postmodern take on totalitarianism in the bureaucratic world. The show dashingly flips between absurdist satire and existential tragedy.Published on March 11 2010 by Donna M. Andrew
I love Terry Gilliam. I think he's the most visionary film maker out there today. The only problem with some of his films is his urge to mimic scenes from Fedrico Fellini's films. Read morePublished on July 20 2004 by Antonio Giusto
This is a cult classic, but I find it over-rated. It delivers the zaniness, surreality and crazy camera work, but the film has no interest in its characters -- you'll feel nothing... Read morePublished on July 7 2004 by Ellie Marconi
I'm going to assume that those reading these reviews have actually seen the film. If you haven't, and are considering this purchase, please go out and rent a copy first. Read morePublished on May 29 2004 by J. Maynard Gelinas
"Brazil" is a masterpiece, and more relevant today than it was in 1985. Terry Gilliam has an inclination to indulge the perverse and carnivalesque in his films, but here... Read morePublished on May 21 2004 by C. Gardner
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
The film itself has a long history of controverser surrounding the director Terry Gilliam and his... Read more
Brazil truly is a masterpiece - a jewel in the well-worn crown of stories examining the dehumanising effect of the modern world. Read morePublished on April 18 2004
I'm a proffesionl film watcher.I love movies and I live with them. I should like to thank the director and actors / actresses of this movie and every one in the producing this film... Read morePublished on March 25 2004 by bijan
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