6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2006
Brazil is a masterpiece of cinematic brilliance, and arguably Terry Gilliam's best film. I loved this movie when I first saw it in 1985 and still do today, having just purchased the newly released 3 disc HD Criterion edition. This is one of the best sci-fi's ever shot, reminiscent of 1984 but with a comedic slant. The visuals are fantastic and bizarre, thus the oscar for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. Terry and company also won for best screenplay. This movie is one of a kind, though that can be said for most of Gilliam's work. The plot follows one Sam Lowry, a government employee, through his quest to find justice for a man wrongly accused of a crime due to a typographical error on a government form. Some of it won't make sense right away, but be patient. Whatever you do, do not rent or buy the abbreviated 94 minute version.
The full version clocks in at 142 minutes and is
thoroughly enjoyable. A true visionary made this film and it needs to be seen by any open-minded movie buff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2000
Filled with deep symbolism and dark humor, "Brazil" is a dynamic movie that, in Terry Gilliam's words, is not about the future, "but the present." There are some moments of sheer genius in this film. One is the restaurant scene in which a terrorist bomb explodes on the other side of where some characters are eating. The unharmed patrons pause for a moment, then, unblinking and without turning, go back to their meals and conversation. The musicians, some slightly charred, resume playing. And, capping it off, Sam's youth-obsessed mother, Ida (the divine Katherine Helmond) says to her friend, "What were we saying?" as workers scramble to set up a screen so that the dying and burning cannot distort the lovely view. This is Grade-A commentary on the way civilians ignore horrible crimes because of their commonplace occurrances. It often takes a presidential assassination, a bombed federal building with millions trapped inside, a downed airplane lost at sea, a Columbine High School, a Titanic, or a towering inferno to make everyone look up for two seconds before you hear them say "Oh, God, is that STILL in the papers?" Another shining moment is actually several moments. Ida's gruesome but intriguing plastic surgery, along with her increasing youth throughout the picture, goes up alongside her friend. This friend, visiting an "acid man," rapidly deteriorates throughout the film until she is a nasty, gelatinous mess, tipping its hat (so to speak) to the Beverly Hills facelift crowd. The other great achievement is the repeated appearance of forms. Forms, forms, you can't repair a wire, or even get another form, without one. Beauracracy is another great target of "Brazil." This is one film not to be missed, but will only be understood even slightly, unfortunately, by painfully few (not even Roger Ebert got it. Ha! Imagine that!). Still, it deserves to be noticed as one of the greatest films of modern years.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
In a nutshell, if you love a movie that is NOT main stream and eccentric, you will love this one. The whole cinematography is a masterpiece. I haven't seen anything like that before. Its a long movie but it does grab and consume you. The cast is awesome incl. Robert De Niro, Jonathan Pryce etc. I would say this one is a real spectacle when it comes to unusual movies.
on April 1, 2015
Textbook classic in brilliance, greed, egos, and different cultures all focusing on one objective - the movie Brazil. Any fan of cinema should own this set - whether they like Terry Gilliam's work or not. As it's probably the most definitive expose of how 'weird little art house sleepers' turn into this giant world renowned masterpiece studied from every angle. Had the past great directors had to endure what Gilliam did, epics like Citizen Kane, 2001: A Space Odyssey, American Graffiti, and Blade Runner would be less than what is Brazil today. Sure, the other movies had to endure flack, disdain, and maybe overwrought praise to obtain their stature today. But the bi-polar vision within and outside the movie of Brazil is fascinating from a artistic, economic, psychological and cultural perspective. What is Brazil so negative towards? What is Brazil so controversial of? What damages could Brazil create? What if Brazil is totally misunderstood as to what Brazil is? A riddle wrapped in an enigma all edited and crammed into two to three showings a night for the unwittingly paying movie goer around the world. And to this day, no one inside or outside of the movie creation and business of it can rightfully say what Brazil is. It's a costly vision that suffered costly losses. It put A list actors in the back seat and glorified nobodies. It promoted homeland terrorism to single out it's unlikely hero. And in the end, nobody wins - or do they? And thankfully with this fantastic Criterion set of Brazil - we ALL win. Or do we....? We have enough to look at to forever keep us guessing if tainted visions were the best decisions - uncut, or brutally reworked. And that to me IS the true beauty of Brazil, inside and out.
on June 6, 2010
This movie is incredible. Neat special effects, strange gadgets, memorable characters (Sam Lowry, Harry Tuttle and Harvey Lime to name a few), and a mixture of action, romance and comedy. Yep, Brazil has it all!
With this 3-disc set, you get the final director's cut with optional commentary by Terry Gilliam. I found Gilliam's commentary to be interesting and hilarious. I'm sure you'll enjoy it too. The good people at Criterion have restored the movie and you'll notice the difference right away. It's crystal clear except for a few tiny bits of debris on some of the frames, but you won't even notice those.
The 2nd disc contains the extras. There is an excellent documentary on here entitled "The Battle of Brazil". This takes you back to 1985 when there was a battle between director Terry Gilliam and head of Universal Pictures Sid Scheinberg over whether or not Brazil should be changed.
There are also some videos on stunts and special effects, as well as a 10 minute video about the musical score.
On the 3rd Disc, there is the 94 minute "Love Conquers All" version of Brazil. This is the heavily edited version made by Scheinberg. There are a ton of important scenes from the original version that were left out to make the film more "Hollywoodesque" and to appeal to a larger audience. In my opinion, this version is absolute crap, but it is important to have it in this set. This shows you what would have happened if Scheinberg succeeded in releasing this version of the film. The brilliant original version would have been destroyed and no one would have been able to bask in it's greatness.
I highly recommend this set. If you've never seen Brazil before, the restored Criterion version will make the experience much more enjoyable. You'll love it! Don't miss out
on June 23, 2004
If you enjoy futuristic Sci-Films then I would heartily reccomend this, as it presents a number of interesting and imaginative concepts.
The setting is the far future.The world is a polluted wasteland. A strange network of wires covers the ceiling of every room.
A corporation-government, Central Services, controls all trade enterprises. Any who indulge in the businesses they control (which are almost everything) without the proper paperwork are labeled terrorists. So, unfortunately, are those who criticize Central Services' inane policies.
Their Cops, clad in spacesuits that look like they came straight out of David Lynch's adapatation of "DUNE", frequently capture these "terrorists" to be interrogated, tortured, and/or executed with bizarre devices.
The "food" eaten by the characters in this film is premasticated garbage, into which are stuck pictures of what the characters believe they are eating.
The rich and powerful under Central Services rule get daily facelifts and parties,
and they strike the viewer as stupid and frightening.
The plot of the film concerns a daydreaming young paper-pusher (Jonathan Pryce) for Central Services' Ministry of Information who discovers a glitch in some paperwork that led to the wrongful arrest and unfortunate execution of Archibald Tuttle, who was mistaken for Archibald "Harry" Tuttle (Robert DeNiro), who has fallen out with the law because of his entrepeneurial fix-it man services.
Soon, a truck-drivin' gal(Kim Greist) who witnessed Archibald Buttle's wrongful arrest pleads for his release to the Ministry of Information, who label her a terrorist.
Later, The young MOI employee notices her picture in the lobby of his workplace, and decides to pursue her. He saves her from being arrested, and, in doing so, is labeled an enemy of society, which eventually leads to his tragic end at the hands of his friends(Ian Holm and John Palin).
This frightening look at the evils of technology, corporations,wrongful arrests, and totalitarian governments is not to be missed by any except the very young(if it gave ME nightmares, imagine the effect it would have on a seven-year old boy!) .
on March 26, 2004
Finally, a movie for anyone who has ever been caught up in or feared being caught up in the teeth of our bureaucratic nightmare machine! Terry Gilliam has turned his laser-wit on "the system" and fashioned a tale of sinister idiocy and insidiously institutionalized inefficiency -stroke- ineptitude. Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a drone for the Ministry Of Information, a burocracy of dizzying stupidity and towering uselessness, set up in order to gather information on anyone suspicious. After all, these are dangerous times! We need protection from... ourselves. Anyway, Sam quietly drudges away his life with the other drones, perfectly hidden from upward mobility. However, Sam has a dream of escape. In his dream, Sam is a winged hero, flying high above the dull horror of his reality to save a beautiful woman (Kim Griest). We can soar with him, before waking up to get ready for our own 9-5 incarcerations. Sam is up for a promotion (thanks to his influential mum, played by Katherine Helmond) to Information Retrieval. Sam doesn't want to be promoted. He just wants to get by, get it over with, and get out. Unbeknownst to Sam, a man named "Buttle" has been arrested, bagged, taken to Information Retrieval, questioned, tortured, and killed. This would be normal routine, except for the fact that the man they wanted was named "Tuttle", not "Buttle". Oops! A refund check arrives in Sam's office, returning funds charged for the wrongful interrogation of poor Buttle. Sam's boss, Mr. Kurtzman (Ian Holm) is panic-stricken, not knowing what to do with the check. Sam tries to pass it on to another bureau to no avail. He finally decides to take the check to Mrs. Buttle in person. Once there,he is attacked by the mourning family. He also catches a glimpse of the girl in his dreams. Sam is obsessed with her, and takes his promotion to Information Retrieval when he finds out that the girl is a suspected terrorist. He figures it's his best chance at meeting her. Well, unfortunately for Sam, he has just entered the core of the insane asylum. His friend Jack Lint (Michael Palin) is a mild-mannered inquisitor. He "questions" folks like Buttle, seeking information. Sam witnesses first-hand the gruesome truth of the entire mess. His dreams become nightmares of his battles with a titanic metallic beast, with his dreamgirl caged and floating away. Sam is reaching his own critical mass. Thankfully, Sam has made a friend with Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), who once fixed Sam's air conditioner. Tuttle is among the MOI's most wanted criminals. He is a man of mystery. He is pretty much everything that Sam Lowry dreams of being. He helps Sam to overcome his deadening ordinariness, and to rescue his dream girl (come to life) from the clutches of the system. Lowry tries his best to protect the girl, leading to his own downfall. The terror really sinks in when Sam himself is bagged, brought in, and strapped into the inquisitor's chair. Of course, his best friend Jack is the one who must extract Sam's confession. There is no exit now. Sam has reached the end of the line. He finds out that his only escape is to fall into insanity, the ultimate dream-state. Please, watch this movie and tell everyone you know about it! I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. Go get it -stroke- watch it -stroke- see what I mean...
on December 29, 2003
I don't like weird films. The bizarre and drug-induced type of haze has never interested me. "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and such strange films are not my cup of tea. I recall reading Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" in the 10th grade -- I wasn't a fan of its odd narrative. I understood the point of the story, and Kafka is admirable and honorable, yes, but I just don't enjoy his writing.
And "Brazil" has the Kafkaesque narrative drive that I just don't appreciate. I looked forward to it for quite some time with much anticipation -- Robert De Niro in a supporting role with Jonathan Pryce, directed by Terry Gilliam ("Monty Python and the Holy Grail"), and co-scripted by Gilliam? A real treat!
I was wrong.
I found "Brazil" to be startlingly unfunny, quite flat, and very strange. This is the same type of "crazy" film I put in the same category as a mess like "Toys" or other such films. As I noted before, there's a very fine line between genius and stupidity. I guess I never crossed the line.
I find myself often agreeing with the nation's most popular critic, Roger Ebert, whom I have talked to in the past. We both share a love for the truly underrated and great comedy "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," and his choice to add it to his Great Movies List -- among such other classics as "Casablanca" and "Citizen Kane" -- made me feel only greater respect for the man. With as many readers and fellow peers as he has, putting a 1980s comedy starring two mainstream comedians such as Steve Martin and John Candy may seem like a risky decision. (But he saw the genius of the film, like me and many other loyal fans.)
Ebert has been my primary influence as a critic, and though he's been coming under attack for "overrating" films lately, I realize that he grades on a more commercial scale than I do, and as great movies are rarer and rarer nowadays, he is hard-pressed to find truly great films. I doubt whether he would have given "xXx" 3/4 stars twenty years ago.
Why am I bringing up Roger Ebert into a discussion about "Brazil"? Because Ebert and I seem to share much of the same taste. He gave "Brazil" 2/4 stars. I agree with his analysis very much, although I gave "Brazil" 3/5 stars, only because I enjoyed a handful of scenes. I recommend it with a bare minimum of enthusiasm.
You may love "Brazil" if you enjoy pointless films with shallow psychological metaphors and so on. I found it pretty dull, and torturous to sit through at times. I didn't laugh once. Isn't it supposed to be a dark comedy? Well, it's dark.
The story is about a worker named Sam Lowry (Pryce), who exists in a futuristic hell and is sent into a downward spiral after becoming caught up in the affairs of a mysterious dream woman (Kim Griest) and a couple of mistaken identities involving a man named Harry Tuttle (De Niro).
The beginning of the film is fairly good, with good atmosphere and visual effects, but Gilliam soon takes us into the mind of Lowry halfway through the film, and it turns into a grim psychological thriller with a bunch of dead ends and forgotten ideas. Sam's dream sequences, which have him dressed in an angelic armor with big white-feathered wings, are beautiful to look at...but what else are they good for?
The film features an all-star cast, including Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, and of course Mr. Robert De Niro (who is second credited but does nothing but three or four brief cameos in the film). I suppose I wanted more humor and sense from this movie after seeing Gilliam's work on the Monty Python series of films. Now, I will freely admit that I saw the European version of "Brazil," which reportedly varies from the original US theatrical cut in a number of ways. There is an added sex scene, the ending is different (no clouds), and there are at least five scenes added to the version (it stands at some 140 minutes compared to the 131-minute US cut). So with that in mind, perhaps my analysis of "Brazil" is somewhat flawed. If the dream sequences are different than the US sequences, perhaps part of the effect has gone.
In fact, there are supposedly somewhere around 30 versions of the film out there, including a "happy" version aired on network television in the States (it reminds me of "Gremlins 2," when the announcer claims that "Casablanca" is now complete with "a happier ending."), and a 97-minute "Love Conquers All" version, handled carefully by Gilliam and available for the die hard fans on the soon-to-be-discontinued Criterion Collection DVD.
I have to ask myself, though, whether or not all that really matters. Some added scenes and altered dream sequences couldn't be too terribly different from the US version, can they? Right?
"Brazil" is a film I would have to see again to form a solid opinion. Ebert saw it twice and still disliked it, but it's the type of film like "Adaptation" that I may enjoy the second time around since I'm fully prepared for what is about to happen and what it all means. But as it stands right now, I can't say that "Brazil" is anything more than a dizzying journey into a world reminiscent of a hellish nightmare, and I feel no great urge to see the film again.
on November 7, 2003
This a copied review, slightly edited, but it so succinct that I could not have done a better job.
A viewer from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada posted March 2003
Brazil is ultimately a failure on all counts. The plot, such as it exists, centers on a mid-level worker eventually confronting a society crushed underneath a Byzantine system of rules, regulations and paperwork. The world depicted evokes images of such uniquely 20th century works as 1984 and THX-1138; the human soul repressed and minimalized by totalitarianism and the machine of the state. The particular target of this satire, however, is bureaucracy. Unfortunately, while some of the visual design and over the top imagery is intriguing, the movie brings very little new or insightful beyond the premise of bureaucracy runs amok. Indeed after the first few minutes, the message is clear: rules shouldn't obscure humanity. But rather than present any kind of plot to interest the viewer, we're treated to variations of this theme interspersed with sheer boredom. A love story is included as well, complete with dream sequences. These sequences, regrettably, are poorly handled. In a movie with such a surrealistic texture to it's visuals, one would hope for some depth to a dream sequence; messages and themes should be filled with depth and revealed in layers. Instead, here they unfold with all the subtlety of an adolescent dungeons and dragons fantasy. None of this is helped by the fact that the story follows the classic arc of character revelation and disillusionment in laborious starts and (mainly) stops - nothing interesting ever seems to happen. Finally, the movie just isn't funny. And a satire without laughs is one of the most painful of viewing experiences.
Taking this together with its lack of insight and slow narrative, Brazil is a remarkably bland experience. Seldom have I watched a bad movie so bereft of any redemptive factors. By the final few minutes one is left not caring at all how the movie ends; just hoping that it will and as soon as possible.
on July 20, 2003
The opening frames of Brazil contain the provocative words, "Somewhere in the 20th Century." It's a reference to how the setting and costumes combine futuristic and retro imagery, and also to the 20th Century ideology of increasing bureaucratization, impersonalization, and paranoia. But as a wise person once said, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you, which is the situation of Sam Lowry, Brazil's likable but doomed hero. In a winning performance--he's in just about every scene, a physically and emotionally demanding role--Jonathan Pryce embodies director Terry Gilliam's everyman worldview. Sam is determined to pursue the woman of his dreams even if it interferes with the brutal efficiency that prevails in this dystopian society. It's a movie of many moods, and they shift abruptly. One minute you're disturbed, the next you're laughing, sometimes it's disorienting, but Gilliam, who also co-wrote the brilliant script, pulls it off. Brazil put him on the map as a great director and he probably won't top it. But he didn't do it alone. As said before, Pryce is wonderful, as is Robert DeNiro in a sly, strange cameo role, Ian Holm as Sam's sniveling, manipulative, but somehow sympathetic boss, Katherine Helmond as Sam's vain mother (interesting Oedipal stuff going on), Jim Broadbent as Dr. Jaffe the plastic surgeon who caters to the vanity of Sam's mom, Bob Hoskins as a pigheaded vengeful repairman who gets drowned in a rather interesting way, and a host of lesser known actors in juicy character roles, a real gallery of grotesques. But it's Michael Palin, Gilliam's old Monty Python partner, who likely makes the major impression--a truly chilling villain, family man who loves his work as a state torturer, and casually discusses his techniques while playing with his toddler daughter (whose name he can't remember). I can't describe how visually stunning Brazil is, you have to see for yourself. But don't forget that the script is as impressive as the images, and you might need to see/hear the film more than once to digest the whole feast. Repeated viewings are rewarded, especially in these days of the war on terrorism. Parts of the movie may remind you of the government's "rescue" of Elian Gonzalez; others will make you think you're watching a public service announcement for the Office of Homeland Security. No matter how you slice it, this is a tour de force for all involved, and as DeNiro says, "We're all in it together!"