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Brazil (The Criterion Collection)

162 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm
  • Directors: Terry Gilliam
  • Writers: Charles McKeown, Terry Gilliam, Jack Mathews, Tom Stoppard
  • Producers: Arnon Milchan, Patrick Cassavetti
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Director's Cut, Dolby, DVD-Video, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Paradox
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022181
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #72,173 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Product Description

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

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on Sept. 19 2003
Format: DVD
Brazil is, arguably, Terry Gilliam's crowning achievement. Originally called 1984 1/2, this film was embroiled in an infamous battle to be distributed. The studio didn't like Gilliam's version and cut together one of their own. Gilliam went to the press and got the L.A. critics behind his movie and finally shamed the studio into releasing his version.
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 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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Mcdowell on March 13 2002
Format: DVD
Brazil, despite the science fiction, social commentary and surrealism, is at it's core a film about a man who trapped by the mundanity of life, imagines himself in a more fantastic world.
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.
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Format: DVD
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. He seems to be one of those directors that are overly influenced by the great Italian director. Maybe not for others but for me it really takes away. I've seen all his movies and can't help but cringe when I see his little un-subtle scenes that are tributes to Fellini. The most rediculus one is in Fear and Loathing where he gives the name of a circus act "The Flying Fellini's." In Brazil it's the whole first person view of flying through clowds. That was so obviously lifted from Otto E Mezzo (8 1/2) and was really un-nessisary. We get the point Terry. You like Fedrico Fellini's films.
Besides the whole Fellini thing Brazil is a brilliant movie visually. The story could have used a bit more polish. I felt the same way about "Time Bandits" too. I also wouldn't go as far as to say it's his best eithor. I would give that praise to "Fear and Loating In Las Vegas."
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Format: DVD
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. If possible, rent the Criterion version as it's vastly superior to the Universal DVD release. I say this because the film presents such disturbing imagery, has such a byzantine and convoluted plot requiring repeated viewings to understand fully, and the denouement ends so tragically that the film leaves audiences polarized between those who love and those who hate it, with few left in between. Rent it first. If you hate it, save your money.
The Universal release has gone out of print, and given the films history with that studio it's unclear if they will ever release another copy. The Criterion release is still available, but it's not a High Definition remaster and is simply a copy and transfer from their previous LaserDisc release in 1.85:1 letterbox. It's not anamorphic, so if you own a 16x9 HDTV you won't see the benefit of your modern television. I contacted Criterion recently asking about a re-release of Brazil in anamorphic and was told they have no intention of doing so. Further, there are rumors that the Criterion version is about to go out of print as well. Which would leave this landmark film without any US distributor if true.
If you're an art-film buff, enjoy foreign film, and regularly attend art-house cinema, this is a film you simply *should* see. The visuals are stunning. The acting superb (other than Kim Griest's somewhat lackluster though acceptable performance).
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