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Perhaps the most imaginative and entertaining nightmare ever put on film
gogoschka-111 November 2015
A virtual celebration of writer/director Terry Gilliam's singular creative vision and seemingly limitless imagination, Brazil is a unique movie experience. And it is kind of hard to put the label of any one particular genre on the film; it's generally referred to as "dystopian science fiction" (which certainly isn't wrong), but it's also a satire, a drama, a black comedy and perhaps even a fantasy film. Like many other dystopian sci-fi films (e.g. Fahrenheit 451, Equilibrium, The Hunger Games), Brazil depicts a totalitarian society, but that's about as far as the similarities with other films go.

The whole design of Brazil's crazy world is unlike anything I've ever seen in other movies (with the exception perhaps of those made by the same filmmaker). Where films with similar themes typically go for a futuristic look that is defined by all the technological advancements the writers and filmmakers can dream of, Terry Gilliam chooses the complete opposite direction. In his film, technology seems to have made no progress since somewhere around the forties or fifties, and what technology there is doesn't exactly look very reliable. And unlike other dystopian films, it's not primarily the bleak aspects of a totalitarian society Gilliam wants to explore; in his film, he wants to show how hilariously insane, inept and ridiculous many of the mechanisms and instruments of oppression truly are. In that sense, Brazil is mainly a satire (at least that's how I perceive it), and it is often either darkly funny or downright hilarious.

There is simply not a dull moment in the film: it's a wild ride that never lets up and almost every image on the screen practically bursts with clever (often hilarious) details; from the way food is served in restaurants to how the benefits of plastic surgery are presented, Gilliam's imagination can only be marveled at. His vision of a bureaucracy gone mad is probably the most entertaining nightmare ever put on film (I'm talking about the director's cut, of course). A masterpiece that gets even better after repeat viewings: 10 stars out of 10.

Favorite films:

Lesser-Known Masterpieces:

Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies:
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An extraordinary movie, original, funny and frightening. Terry Gilliam's masterpiece.
Infofreak6 April 2003
I really can't tell you how much my first viewing of this movie knocked me out. Nearly twenty years ago, before Terry Gilliam's reputation is what it is today, seeing this in a cinema without knowing ANYTHING about it, it was one of the most unforgettable movie experiences of my life! Still is. I was a Python fan since childhood and well aware of Gilliam's animation work, but nothing could prepare you for just how bizarre, funny, scary and disturbing 'Brazil' is. It's still one of the most original and inventive science fiction movies ever made, with a surreal, retro future quite unlike anything seen on a movie screen before or since. Gilliam mixes Python's anarchic, intellectual humour with Orwell, Kafka and Theatre Of The Absurd elements and comes up with something really special. John Sladek kinda sorta wrote some stories in a similar territory before this, and Dean Motter has written some comics since, but 'Brazil' is really in a world of its own! Jonathan Pryce was fairly obscure at the time and an odd choice to play the leading role, but is perfectly cast, and it's hard to think of an actor who would have been as convincing and sympathetic. The rest of the cast includes an amusing cameo from Robert De Niro, Kim Greist (only her second movie, after 'C.H.U.D.' of all things!) as Pryce's love interest, Python's Michael Palin, and a bunch of excellent Brit character actors - Bob Hoskins, Ian Richardson, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent, etc.etc. It goes without saying that when I praise 'Brazil' I am ONLY referring to Gilliam's cut. This is still an utterly brilliant movie, one of the very best of the last twenty-five years. I can't recommend this movie highly enough, it is a masterpiece pure and simple.
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Perhaps the greatest of all films
JackLint18 October 2002
I have read a lot of understandably negative reviews of the movie 'Brazil.' Brazil(in its proper form) is a long film at well over two hours, it has many cutaways to dream sequences that are only loosely related to the rest of the film, and the narrative story is not always the driving force of the film which many people find confusing. With all these things going against it, Brazil is clearly not a film for everyone.

All that being said, Brazil is my very favorite movie. Those things previously described as reasons that some people will dislike the movie are the very reasons I love it. The story is both simple and complex depending on how you look at it, and this kind of paradox is what makes for great art. There, I did it! I used the 'A' word, and not lightly. Brazil is an art film, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sam Lowry(Jonathan Pryce) is our hero, an unambitious bureaucrat within the ranks of the Ministry of Information. The only place he is willing to be more than a drone is in his dreams where he is some sort of angelic knight fighting to save his dream girl. While running an errand for work, Sam comes face to face with a woman who is the very image of the dream girl, and his life is forever changed when he surrenders his tranquil unambitious life in the attempt to pursue the woman.

This movie is less about the story than it is about the atmosphere in my opinion. Terry Gilliam is a visual genius, and this movie marks his peak(so far) in producing a visually stunning film, with due apologies to Adventures of Baron Munchausen and 12 Monkeys which are beautiful in their own rights. The oppression of the bureaucratic life is felt by anyone who watches this film, and the freedom experienced in the dreams is a fantastic counterpoint. This film does a wonderful job of evoking emotional responses for me, and I suspect for most of the fans of the film as well.

The film can be viewed at many different levels of complexity, from fairly simple to fully allegorical. The simple view would be that the movie is about the dreams we create to escape our dull lives, and the potentially disastrous results of pursuing them in waking life. Symbolically the film can be interpreted as a vicious attack on the status quo as an impersonal, consumer/beauty oriented beast that is upheld by a draconian adherence to regulations and invasive public policy. There are many other ways to see it, most of which are probably unintended, but certainly completely valid.

The best part about Brazil is that it is absolutely hilarious. Jonathan Pryce shows remarkable aptitude for physical comedy. The dialogue is as funny as any movie you'll ever see, though the humor is very dry, and often so subtle that you might not get a joke until a minute after it has passed. There are the occasional tidbits of out loud guffaws one would expect from a script that was partly written by Tom Stoppard, but there is not a constant barrage of this material.

Brazil is a very cerebral film, so if you are thinking, "What does cerebral mean?" you can probably skip it. Anyone who expects to have a story clearly spelled out for them, and done so in a concise manner with little background interference will hate Brazil. Brazil is a film for those who want texture, emotional involvement and some sort of deeper meaning.

Brazil is my favorite movie, but it is clearly not for everyone!
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Orwell with a Python twist
redneck-629 March 2000
This movie did not leave me with a happy feeling when I was done viewing it, but I definitely found it well worth the time. It posits a dark future world where the government has become a gigantic bureaucratic beast. The simplest exchange requires mountains of paperwork and a strict adherence to procedures has replaced anyone's ability to critically think about what they are doing or stand up to the brutality they know lurks around them. Sam Lowry is a man who seems more than happy to live as a cog in the giant machine. When he sleeps, however, he flies through beautiful blue skies towards the woman of his dreams. As he attempts to correct an "oversight" by the Ministry Of Information for whom he works (one of the more obvious nods to Orwell) which has resulted in an innocent man's death, he finds a woman who appears to be the one in his dreams. The line between his dreams and his reality blur ever further as he goes deeper and deeper into the government machine to find out who she is.

Terry Gilliam once again seems to have spared no expense in making sure every visual element of the world adds up to a cohesive whole which makes you feel as if you're really experiencing the characters' surroundings. And, of course, it is a world rendered realistically enough to feel feasible, and yet surrealistically enough to leave an unforgettable impression on you.

Despite the simplicity of the main plot, the movie is full of subtexts and images which carry a message even though you may not see them on the first viewing. In one scene, a man is buying "clean air" from a vending machine along the street. The sides of the highways are walls of billboards which hide the barren environment beyond. A group of people carry a banner that announces "Consumers for Christ" in a store decorated for the holidays as a small child tells Santa she wants a credit card for Christmas. Actually, therein lies one of the things that may turn some people off to this movie. It seems Gilliam had so many things to say about the state of society today that some people may find the movie lacks a coherent message once it's done. The ending will no doubt come as a shock to many people as well, but it was refreshing to me to see something well outside the Hollywood conventions for a change.

My only real complaint was that Robert De Niro's character was so enjoyable, but saw so little use. Other than that, however, I thought it was a film which presents some compelling things which deserve serious thought, even though most people probably won't be able to get past the trademark Gilliam visual quirkiness to see what he is saying. Eight and a half out of ten from me.
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Intriguing mixture of comedy and dystopia
kylopod25 September 2006
One of the truest statements about originality in art comes from T.S. Eliot: "Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal." Terry Gilliam is one of cinema's mature poets. His "Brazil" features homages to numerous other films, ranging from "Modern Times" to "The Empire Strikes Back," and its plot is broadly similar to "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Yet the result is intriguingly fresh and creative.

The best adjective to describe the movie's tone is "whimsical." It's the type of sci-fi film with an almost childlike fascination with strange sights and happenings. Rarely has a film so pessimistic been this much fun. Many sci-fi films since "Brazil" have attempted a similar approach, usually with little success. The chief problem with most such films (e.g. "The Fifth Element") is that they get bogged down in plot at the expense of emotional resonance. "Brazil" avoids this fate: while the movie possesses psychological and thematic complexity, its plot is fairly simple, and the humor, quirky as it is, never relies on throwaway gags. Even the oddest moments have a certain poignance.

The story seems to take place in a fascist alternative world. It isn't "the future" exactly. The technology is weird-looking but hardly superior to anything in our world. Money transactions are sent through pipes in what looks sort of like a crude version of ATM. (One of the film's several nods to silent movies occurs after a character tries to stuff one of these pipes with wads of paper.) The pop culture references are positively retro, from the title song to scenes from the film "Casablanca."

The evil of the government in this film is driven not so much by cruelty as by bureaucratic incompetence, much of which is played for laughs. But some of the scenes look eerie today, in our post-9/11 world, and are good fodder for conspiracy theorists. Pay particular attention to the scene where the official boasts that the government is winning its war against "the terrorists." The movie is ambiguous as to whether there are any real terrorists, and we have a sneaking suspicion that the explosions are caused by the government itself. The plot is set in motion by a typographical error leading an innocent man to be arrested instead of a suspected terrorist. The movie is not about this man but about a meek government worker, Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), who's observing from the sidelines. Robert De Niro has a cameo as the wanted "terrorist" whose crime, from what we see, consists of doing home repairs without the proper paperwork.

I have noticed that most of the classic dystopian tales are fundamentally similar to one another. But "Brazil" approaches the genre in a uniquely psychological way. Sam Lowry is different from the standard protagonist who rebels against the government due to noble motives. He doesn't seem to have any larger goals than his own personal ones. He isn't trying to make the world a better place. He's only longing for a better life for himself, one more exciting and romantic than the humdrum existence he currently occupies, where he's beset by an overbearing mother, a pitiful boss, and a dull job. In the midst of this bureaucratic nightmare state, he cares only about such matters as getting his air conditioning fixed and stalking a female stranger who physically resembles his fantasy woman--or so he perceives. The woman, as played by Kim Greist, appears in his fantasies as a helpless damsel with long, flowing hair and a silky dress who sits in a cage while he battles a giant Samurai warrior. The real-life woman he pursues, also played by Greist, sports a butch haircut, drives a large truck, and has a cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth.

It's a testament to Pryce's performance that he commands our total sympathy the whole time. We feel for him and go along with the romantic adventure he attempts to create for himself. His nervous, stammering personality is one that would have been easy to overdo, yet Pryce strikes just the right note, especially as we begin questioning the character's sanity. At one point, another character tells him that "You're paranoid; you've got no sense of reality." But who wouldn't be paranoid in such a setting? The scene brings to mind the old joke that goes "You're not paranoid. Everyone really is out to get you." The movie inhabits such a whacky, surreal world full of strange people and sights that Sam Lowry almost seems sensible by comparison. Creating a character like this was a fresh, innovative twist on a genre that normally loses sight of human personalities.
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The movie that made me a fan of unusual movies
eichler211 January 2016
This is an edited version of the review I wrote for "Brazil" on the site where I recently bought the 132 minute, single-disc blu-ray verson of the movie:

For those who don't know the history of this movie - there are at least three different versions. It was originally released in Europe as a nearly two and half hour long film. The studio that financed it didn't like that version because it A. was too long, B. was too uncommercial and C. had a dark, depressing ending. The contract they had with Gilliam stipulated that the movie had to be less than 2 hours and 15 minutes, so it could have multiple prime-time showings in theaters. They suggested he cut the ending.

Gilliam refused, so the studio took it upon themselves to create the "Love Conquers All" version, which chopped out almost an hour of footage - they only kept the parts that showed the main character Sam in a heroic light, anything that contributed to the Sam/Jill love story and anything that featured Robert DiNero. And, of course, the ending was changed to a happy ending by removing the final scene. Also, to make the plot easier to follow, they used some alternate takes, some deleted footage and hired voice actors to overdub dialog.

Unsurprisingly, Gilliam didn't want that version released, so he finally edited the movie down to 2 hours and 12 minutes, kept the dark ending and made a few other minor changes and the studio was contractually obligated to release that version to theaters in the United States.

It's the US version that appears on the stand-alone blu-ray (the other versions are available on a Criterion 3-disc set). I'm happy to have the blu-ray version, because it's the first time I've seen the "US edit" since originally seeing the film in a theater on a college campus shortly after it first came out.

I can't really write an unbiased review of the movie, because from that first viewing I became obsessed with both Brazil and Terry Gilliam's films in general. I bought all his movies on VHS as soon as they came out and eventually replaced them with DVDs. I bought the Criterion "Final Cut" version of Brazil as soon as it came out.

It's one of those films you'll either love or hate. If you mostly go for typical Hollywood blockbusters, then you'll probably fall in the "hate" camp. However, if you like artistic movies that make you think a bit, this one's for you. Its alternate-reality, retro-futuristic look makes it seem nearly as fresh and amazing today as it did when it first came out. And the background plot of a bloated government bureaucracy turning the country into a surveillance state in response to a perceived terrorist threat - I know it was based on things happening in England at the time, but it's like Gilliam had a crystal ball and looked 20 years into the United States' future. The alternating between "reality" and dream sequences and the general Gilliam quirkiness will probably put a lot of people off, but it's what drew me to this movie in the first place.

If you become fanatical about the movie like I am, you'll need both the US version and the Criterion release. To fully experience the film you need to see every version (even the Love Conquers All version) because each one includes bits that aren't in any of the others. And technically Brazil is a Christmas movie, so be sure to watch it during the holidays with your loved ones.

If you do decide to watch Brazil and find that you like it, give some of Gilliam's more recent movies a try, like The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassis and The Zero Theorem. Really, if you like odd, out-of-the-mainstream movies that you'll be thinking about for days after you see them, you can't go wrong with pretty much any Terry Gilliam film.

On the other hand, if you hated this one, best steer clear of Gilliam entirely.
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Terry Gilliam's 1984
marquis de cinema8 November 2000
Brazil(1985) is a great SCIFI feature that's one of the most visually rewarding films to watch. The movie deals with a computer error that causes havoc for the protagonist, Sam Lowry. Sam Lowry is someone who dreams of living as an individual, away from the system of Big Brother. The movie is heavily influenced by George Orwell's classic novel, 1984. Brazil(1985) is the closest thing to a perfect adaptation of 1984 for the big screen.

Brazil(1985) is more well known for what happened behind the scenes than anything that happens in the film. There was a bitter battle between the director and producer that ended up in the cutting of the film much to Terry Gilliam's disapproval. As a result there are three cuts of the film(director, studio, TV). I've seen both the 142Minute and 132Minute version. In my opinion, the 142Minute edition is the definite one to watch.

Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry does a great act in showing someone who is imprisoned by the system. Robert De Niro plays Sam Lowry's alter ego, Harry Tuttle in an eccentric role for the actor. At first De Niro wanted the role of Sam's best friend but instead got the role of the spy Harry Tuttle. The film retains the forbidden love affair between Sam Lowry and Jill Layton that is an important element in 1984. A lot of scens that involved Kim Griest were cut due to the dissatifaction of her performance from the director.

Brazil(1985) is Terry Gilliam's masterwork and a well directed piece by the filmmaker himself. The set designs are dazzling and the depiction of city life is nothing short of amazing. The title song is one of the most famous tunes. Much better then 12 Monkeys(1996) because this is a more complete film. Brazil(1985) is part of a trilogy that includes Time Bandits(1981) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen(1988).

This trilogy is really about the progression of life that begins in Childhood, continues in Middleage, and ends with Old age. Brazil(1985) is really about the uncertainties of middleage. The samurai dream sequences are a marvalous example of the symbolisms they provide for the movie. Bob Hoskins gives a dark humorous act as a government plumber. The dream sequences with Sam Lowry and his dream girl are beautifully romantic.
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One of the top ten films of all times
Carlos Nunez29 March 2005
Brazil is definitively one of the top ten movies of all times. Its a sort of anti-Utopian spectacle, in the same fashion of George Orwell's 1984. The movie has a very complex sequence of events, which require more than one viewing for full understanding. In fact, the first time i saw Brazil, i didn't enjoy it much. But then i gave it a second chance, and the pleasure of watching it increased exponentially. The more I watch it, the more I discover hidden aspects and new ways to interpret this masterful creation. The scenario is extraordinary, mixing long pipe lines and a almost omnipresent Gothic atmosphere. If you didn't like the movie the first time you saw it, don't be by any means discouraged. This movie requires patience and an active role from the viewer. Finally, Brazil deserves special praise for all the dream-like sequences of the main character and the music fits in perfectly well.
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Layered stories?
bunny-297 May 1999
After watching this movie many times (I worked a s a projectionist when it was out), I came to the conclusion that Sam is actually Buttle and has been living in his head the whole time as a way of dealing with the torture. Vis, the opening commando scene is from the point of view of Buttle. The remainder of the picture (until "he's gone away from us" is from Sam's POV. I mean, there is no Sam except as Buttle's way of making sense of his abduction and torture. He creates Sam in a way to place someone else in the chair, to be able to make things up to his family, to actualize his affection for his upstairs neighbor, to indict the system, to understand his tormentor.
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a masterwork
PAUL_HESLEP6 December 2004
Brazil is a true masterpiece. Like something that was wrenched from the surreal dreams of Salvidore Dali, images in this movie are dark, funny, disturbing, thought-provoking, and profound, all at the same time. This is truly a movie you can watch multiple times and find new themes each time. When it was released, it had some important things to say. Today, in our society that is scared into semi-paralysis by the threat of terrorists and the overly oppressive response of our own government, this movie is more relevant than ever. If yoy pay attention, you may actually walk away from this movie with a profound sense of understanding. Most everyone I have recommended this movie to has been deeply moved in some way by it. This movie should be required viewing!
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A visual masterpiece
mylimbo16 April 2005
In a futuristic world Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) a gawky bureaucrat clerk gets himself caught in the middle of a revolution all because of an error, where terrorists lead by Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro) are out to destroy the bureaucratic governing state and also his literally after the girl of his dreams.

A totally grim and surreal fantasy is portrayed in co-writer/director Terry Gilliam's film. The bleak world that we see is truly bizarre and visually astonishing, by representing a domineering world run by an unfair bureaucracy and technology that has gone chaotic- because of obsession, daily routines and power. Its a materialistic society thats filled with unfair rules and regulations. The special effects are spellbinding with the gizmos and gadgets that flow through the film. The engaging screenplay is excellent in representing the disturbing life style of this future and the script filled with sharp satire and amusing black humour and wit. The set and art direction is nothing but breathtaking, while the plot might have it's flaws- but the superb detail and imagination that went into it you just glaze over it. The plot itself is filled with many interesting sub-plots on technology, the government system, pleasures of this life-style and terrorism- but also there are some subtle details that may go unnoticed- but with repeat viewings you catch onto them. The story has it's tense, mysterious and macabre moments that seem to gel perfectly, while the dream sequences that Sam has were simply splendid and very hypnotic and the same goes for the haunting music score that spirals with emotion.

The performances were good and quite colourful- but nothing really spectacular, Jonathan Pryce is charming as the love struck Sam; Kim Greist is elegantly mysterious as Jill Layton the girl Sam's after, Robert De Niro as a chirpy plumber/terrorist Tuttle, Bob Hospkins as Spoor the repair man, Katherine Helmond as the obsessive mother of Sam Mrs. Ida Lowry and Ian Holm as the twitchy Mr. M. Kurtzmann.

This is a brilliant and innovative Sci-fi film. Though it's long, but never dull and it leaves you wanting more at the end. It definitely leaves a significant impression… well, it did on me.
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Visually fantastic but plot needed more work
bob the moo4 December 2001
Sam Lowry works within the huge ministry of information in a near-future world of bureaucracy. A simple administration error leads to the death of an innocent man. Lowry finds himself drawn into a world where he is forced to go against the admin world that he works in with devastating results.

This is one of Gilliam's best films (the other being 12 Monkeys). His nightmare vision is complete with wonderful visual touches - some inspired, some very unnerving in their originality. This satire on the world of bureaucracy gone mad has some wonderful elements that don't seem too farfetched - tiny offices, never-ending paperwork, a government so keen to cut costs that people who are arrested are forced to fund their own defence etc. The dream scenes and the romance don't sit too easily beside this element but they help add to the hallucinatory effect of the whole film.

The feeling of paranoia runs wild through the film. Everything in it symbolises the uselessness of trying to work against a unbeatable system and the pointlessness of individual effort - witness Tuttle eventually overcome by the "paperwork" he once resisted. The only problem with the film is that the plot is mostly rubbish, at first it's hidden but in the middle section and the end the holes become obvious.

The cast is mostly excellent despite forced to work with very weird characters. Pryce is brilliant as the quiet bureaucrat pushed into a nightmare by his dreams, although Kim Greist is dull as the focus of his dreams, Jill. The rest of the cast consists of a range of extended cameos including Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Bob Hoskins and an excellent Robert De Niro as a guerrilla heating engineer.

The studio bosses wanted an upbeat happy ending to help sales - basically the final 45 seconds had to go. However Gilliam stuck by his guns and produced a film that is visually inspiring whilst being depressingly based in the real world - right up till the final credit has rolled. "Has anyone seen Lowry?" - everyone should.
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Gilliam In Overdrive
screenman23 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Not necessarily an easy movie to score on account of its Da-Da-ism.

Gilliam hit popular notoriety with his bizarre cartoon interludes during the 'Monty Python' series. The man clearly had a an amazing imagination mixed with an equivalent sense of humour. There was going to be a lot more to come. Not all of it was good. But 'Brazil' was surely his magnum opus.

His work entails more than a shade of Python (naturally), hints of Roald Dahl, and something else uniquely him.

Brazil is astonishing. It's almost a take on 1984, with a pretty ineffectual hero standing-in for equally ineffectual Winston Smith. He is an honest and diligent man who discovers a foul-up which he tries to put right, only for things to go disastrously wrong. In time, he finds himself fighting the system and pursuing a rebellious young woman truck driver (Orwell's 'Julia'). As the movie progresses, we are led through a series of tableaux which leave us wondering just how much of what we see is actually in the real world, and how much is the hero's deluded imagination. For those who like neat little denouements it can be a disappointment. The best thing, I think, is to just go along for the ride.

That ride takes us through some great parodies of the present. We have set-piece monolithic ministries with incomprehensible bureaucracy. There are legions of dangerously dumb guards, a ruined environment that is boarded-out of view by idealised advertisements and much more. There are also some great characters played very believably by an equally great cast. Small, visual Pythonesque gags pop-up all along the way. Rich old women desperately trying to stay young, cramped little offices were desk space is fought over, unreliable technology and Kafka-esquire confusion. The sniffing machine that got a little too intimate was one of many little touches that had me laughing out loud.

You can get lost in this movie. And perhaps that's what Gilliam intended. Whatever it is, it's a piece of unique theatre that does what it does extremely well. You just may not enjoy it. A bit like Dali's cloth watch.
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Didn't find any masterpiece here but a movie aging not well
ron_capuccino7 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
To clear it up from the start, I am above 40 years old and quite heard about this movie when it was released. I am quite used to the visual, plots and general style of the 80's 90's movies but this one that I watch for the first time in 2012 cannot take any appreciations from me.

Visually speaking the only word coming to my mind is cheap. In terms of dialogs I would honestly say, with all due respect to the tam who did this movie and peoples who love it, ridiculous. The scene when the main carachter is in the truck wit is dream girl for the first time, when he announce his love for her, is just the weakest set of sentences and whole situation I ever seen in a movie.

As for the plot, it sometimes started to pick up into an interesting point of view about the administration labyrinth, the system weight on individuals but what else from that ? A rebellion, a fight, an acceptance of the situation ? not to me, just a weirdo story without a constructive or productive meaning.

I can perfectly guess and understand that fans might be outraged of such opinion while they are sure that I missed the points, but I could not recommend this movie to anybody. In it times it was maybe revolutionary in many senses but in 2012 I just see a lost of time.
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"Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardise your credit rating."
ackstasis17 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil' is one heck of a film. A weird, twisted, fantastical tale of the sheer absurdity of an Orwellian society, the films draws inspiration from a lengthy series of science-fiction and dystopian novels and films – including Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis (1927),' Ray Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451 {or François Truffaut's 1966 adaptation},' Franz Kafka's 'The Trial {or Orson Welles' 1962 adaptation},' Anthony Burgess' 'A Clockwork Orange' {or Kubrick's 1971 adaptation} and, more than anything else, George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' {adapted just one year earlier by Michael Radford}. Masterfully blending the horror of this misguided totalitarian government with Gilliam's gloriously absurd brand of Monty Python-esquire humour, 'Brazil' depicts the absolute folly of the direction in which our society is heading.

Whilst 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' showed us a frighteningly effective police state in which "evil-doers" are brought to swift and inharmonious justice, 'Brazil's' equally formidable Ministry of Information doesn't even work properly. At the very beginning of the film, when the carcass of a swatted insect falls into a typewriter, the machine mistakenly issues an arrest warrant for a Mr. BUTTLE, rather than the suspected terrorist Mr. TUTTLE. The result of this minor bureaucratic foul-up will be the death-by-torture of the completely innocent Mr. Buttle, the degradation of his unfortunate family and the precipitation of the events of the film, featuring mild-mannered, unambitious, dream-obsessed urban worker Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce).

We first meet Sam Lowry in his own dreams, as a silver-winged, bird-like mythical creature, soaring through the open air, free from the constraints of the fascist government that would later destroy his life. He seeks out his dream girl (Kim Greist), who calls his name softly from beneath a thin, floating veil. This is the first of several mythic dream sequences, full of idealistic notions of love, happiness and freedom, though the restrictive power of the Ministry of Information's totalitarian regime threatens on more than one occasion to rob him Sam of the only moments of happiness he can experience, within his own mind. In one compelling later dream sequence, Sam must battle to rescue his beloved dream-girl from an immense, monolithic like samurai-machine, which might be interpreted to represent the all-powerful technology of the Ministry of Information. When he discovers his own face behind the monster's mask, it is symbolic of Sam's own willingness to take part in such a regime.

In his real life, Sam Lowry is a fairly dependable, but decidedly unmotivated, computer worker at the Department of Records. His jittery boss, Mr. M. Kurtzmann (Ian Holm), relies entirely on Sam to get him out of occasional "tight spots," and fails to notice that his seemingly hard-working employees are switching their computer monitors to the day's classic movie screening as soon as his back is turned. Despite the pressure from his influential, plastic surgery-obsessed mother (Katherine Helmond), Sam has absolutely no desire to be promoted to the Ministry of Information… until, that is, he spots his dream-girl in real life – named Jill Layton – and desires to learn as much about her as possible. Sam is shocked to learn that Jill is considered a potential terrorist, in league with the elusive heater-engineer terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), and so he sets out to protect her from a grisly fate.

'Brazil' is a visually magnificent film, brimming with unparalleled production design (by Norman Garwood), set direction (John Beard, Keith Pain) and costume design (James Acheson). Roger Pratt's inventive cinematography beautifully captures a dark and menacing society that, at times, descends steeply into complete surrealism. The film's enigmatic title refers to Ary Barroso's catchy South American song, 'Aquarela do Brasil {Watercolour of Brazil},' which is a theme used frequently throughout the film, most noticeably during Sam's dream sequences. The opening lyrics of the song go as follows: "Brazil / Where hearts were entertaining June / We stood beneath an amber moon / And softly murmured 'someday soon' / We kissed and clung together / Then, tomorrow was another day / The morning found me miles away / With still a million things to say." Perhaps the film's title, 'Brazil,' refers to this eternal place of bliss and happiness, a seemingly unreachable place under the brutal dictatorship of society.

While the film certainly borrows ideas from a varied assortment of previous works, 'Brazil' is simply unlike anything you have ever seen before. Simultaneously, it is a stern condemnation of fascism and a light-hearted, hilariously-absurd satire of government. The ending to the film is particularly powerful, with Gilliam offering us a typical happily-ever-after ending, and then yanking it away in the final seconds. After all, in such a dystopian society, a happy ending is not only unlikely, but it is damn near impossible. Curiously, Sam does eventually find his happiness, but it comes at the cost of his own sanity, and he starts to absentmindedly hum the title tune as his torturers depart and the credits begin to roll. Could this possibly be construed as a happy ending? It's definitely unlike any other that I've seen.
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Mattias Petersson11 July 2006
I have to admit i have always had something of a problem with Terry Gilliam. And having a problem with Terry Gilliam and watching this film is kind of like eating something you're allergic to. The reaction is instant because this movie is just so much Terry Gilliam.

The word that i usually drift towards when watching one of his works is "absurd". It seems to me that the feeling of absurdity is what he always aims at. Usually he also hits his target. The question though is if this makes his movies good or not. Of course things are not that simple. It's always possible to admire or appreciate something without actually liking or enjoying it. That being said i can't really say i've ever enjoyed one of Gilliams films (i came closest with "Twelve Monkeys"), but i have admired a couple of them for their undeniable originality and intelligence.

"Brazil" was difficult for me. The Orwellian world in which it takes place is a very dominating factor in the movie. Although i perceived it to be about humanity (as are most such sad visions of the future) the humans here really take a backseat. The setting, this future world, is grand and painstakingly overworked. From the smallest hissing pipe to the greatest open space there is an attention to detail that speaks volumes about both vision and lack of budget restraints. Of course today the future in Brazil seems irreparably old and dated, but that is almost always the case with science-fiction and visions of the future and it didn't bother me.

What did bother me however was that i didn't really know how to follow the storyline in Brazil. Of course one might say that the storyline was not the point here, and you might be right but i find that to be a problem in and of itself. Characters enter from the side without good explanations, things happen that i understood very little about and of course dream sequences were added and spliced in a way that sometimes made it difficult to know what was reality or dream. Probably that was also something deliberate.

In the end i think that me and Mr. Gilliam simply don't mix. His brand of very black comedy just doesn't strike the right note with me. It's absurd to the point where i don't know how to react. And here we have two hours of disjointed storyline and bizarre events that sometimes seem to have very little to do with each other. It's not the kind of black comedy you laugh at, and at the same time it didn't feel heartfelt in any real way. An impressive display of vision and budget no doubt, and with a surprisingly good ending (of course i count on understanding the story enough to judge), but lacking something to keep it all together.
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A valid idea done poorly
plupu6621 May 2011
The idea of the individual lost in a mercilessly bureaucratic - and stupid- world is valid and of real concern to modern society. Orwell (in 1984), Kurt Vonegutt (in Harrisson Bergeron) and Kafka (in The Trial) presented it in original (at their time) and compelling ways. Brazil is a Hollywoodesque movie in every way with all the "prescribed" car chases, pretty girl loves pretty boy, evil people are really evil from every point of view, characters are caricatures and some torture/shock scenes thrown in the mix. The film lacks subtlety and keeps "hitting one over the head" with the same message transmitted in the same way. Paradoxically the film seems to be aimed at an intelligent audience but treats this audience with shocks of horror rather than with an insightful discourse. If you wish to see a really good dystopia film see "Harrisson Bergeron". Less shocking, more food for thought.
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Is it?
Armand31 January 2007
It is a black comedy and cruel fairy-tale. Strange game and mixture between Kafka and Orwell style. It is subtle parody of a fake world but, in same measure, homage to innocence. A modern tragedy and one of Robert de Niro best characters. Anatomy of illusions and pledge for the interior freedom. Slices from Ionesco and seeds of Joseph K. And some interesting questions: It is life ordinary mistake? It is life only ordinary illusion? Is it life only dream and what kind of sleep is its root? Is it a trap , an excuse or form of strange and sarcastic art? A metaphoric trip beyond shadows? Its it game without real rules and any chance to be more that fake reflection of ideas? Maybe, but the error is more that skin of ambiguous desire.
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Astonishing concept, always stimulating to watch, but ultimately bites off more than it can chew.
Jonathon Dabell5 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Terry Gilliam is in dark, subversive mood with this Orwellian fantasy. While the film has extraordinary futuristic sets, appropriately off-the-wall performances, and more ingenious ideas than you usually find in a dozen other movies put together, it still has its share of flaws. For one thing, there seems to be too much going on for the eye and ear to fully absorb. Not that I mind watching movies which demand the concentration of the viewer - in fact, I rather like films that are challenging and thought-provoking - but Brazil is extraordinarily hard to follow, even for those who give it the level of attention it demands. Perhaps it's one of those films best treated as an experience more than a narrative. Also, its extreme length is a drawback; as the film passes the two hour mark one begins to fidget a little with discomfort.

In a futuristic state, bureaucracy has literally gone mad and people have lost their identity working in bleak, absurdly formalised offices where they spend practically the whole day carrying out monotonous paper-work. Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) works in the Records Office, under the preposterously fussy eye of Mr Kurtzmann (Ian Holm). Lowry survives day after day of uninterrupted boredom by day-dreaming of himself as a winged super-hero protecting the world from various villains and monsters, and wooing a gorgeous blonde woman (Kim Greist). Due to a printing error, an arrest warrant is issued for a law-abiding citizen named Mr Buttle (the real warrant is intended for a heating-engineer-turned-terrorist named Tuttle, played with surprising comic flair by Robert De Niro). Buttle is duly arrested and tortured to death, but his neighbour Jill Leyton (Griest, again) is determined to clear the name of the wronged Mr Buttle, which she does by relentlessly pestering the various agencies involved in the mix-up. When Sam realises that the blonde beauty of his dreams actually exists, and that the authorities are out to silence her, he breaks away from his deskbound existence and tries to assume the heroic role he has so often dreamed of in a doomed effort to protect her.

Brazil is a dazzling film on many levels, especially in its depiction of a frightening society where the hours spent sleeping and dreaming are infinitely more desirable than the depressing waking hours. Gilliam seems to be suggesting that his invented world is the culmination of every social "mistake" in history, from the McCarthy era witch-hunts to Stalinism. It is certainly one of the bleakest and most damning visions of the future ever put on film. Pryce carries the film excellently as the ever-questioning, ever-imaginative hero in a society where everyone else has forgotten how to question and imagine. Griest is terrific as the girl of his dreams (whose "real" self turns out to be tougher and more resourceful than he could dare believe); and De Niro's small role as the dashing saboteur is very amusingly played. Brazil is not for all tastes, and resolutely demands several re-viewings in order to take it all in, but it still stands as encouraging evidence that creativity and originality lurk in the shadows of post-'70s cinema. I give it a 7 from my personal viewpoint, but a 9.5 for its cult potential.
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Bizarre in its methods but brilliant in its concepts
Movie_Muse_Reviews8 August 2009
How does one put a Monty Python twist on a dystopian/Orwellian (whichever term you prefer) science-fiction fantasy? The answer might not be clear, but as long as Terry Gilliam knows it, it can be done. The "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" director begins his career of daring reality-bending films with "Brazil," maybe his greatest or if not most signature film.

Named after the iconic song, "Brazil" is a quirky-spirited and outlandish futuristic film that operates subtly and with peculiarity as only Gilliam would have it. Unlike the more popular dystopian films of today, you can't rely on theme-heavy dialogue to understand Gilliam's warning to society, you have to sit and absorb the bizarre imagery, seemingly irrelevant dream sequences and comic downplay of dramatic events. Once you understand why it's there and stop worrying about exactly what it means, the genius becomes clearer.

The film stars Jonathan Pryce as Sam Lowry, an unambitious bureaucrat who works for the Ministry of Information in a very mechanical society with an extensive yet inefficient process for bringing criminals, namely terrorists, to justice. Therefore, a small printing error leads to the unlawful arrest and death of Archibald Buttle, not Archibald 'T'uttle. Lowry must investigate the error and in the process comes across a woman (Kim Greist) whom he recognizes from his dreams where he's soaring in the air with wings toward a beautiful woman in white robes. He decides to pursue this woman and it leads him down a dangerous path.

Gilliam introduces us to this society by showing its excessive yet seemingly unreliable technology. Sam's air conditioning breaks down, gourmet food is needlessly ground into globs and everything has a large and obtrusive cord attached to it. All this seems strange because its on the periphery of what's happening to Sam, so it can easily be dismissed as excessive detail. On the contrary, it's what quietly makes this Gilliam's masterpiece.

The more human story is in Sam's pursuit of this dream in reality, a dangerous feat. Claiming early in the film that he wants nothing for himself, this woman is the only exception. He pursues it relentlessly and it costs him. As completely absurd as some of the events occurring to him appear to be, these trippy sequences ultimately test his character despite their strange tactics.

Icing all this is the quirky Monty Python style. It's not the humor that lends itself to the film, but sort of the spirit of Monty Python. Even Michael Palin plays a small role to sort of perpetuate this feeling. Since everything goes mostly unexplained, this humor compounds the oddities of the film, poking fun at the excessiveness whether it be Sam's mother's face lifts and same surgeries that slowly kill her friend or playing up the dialogue between Sam and other characters such as Tuttle (De Niro) in the midst of an abnormal scenario.

"Brazil" might not be a science-fiction film for everyone, but it deserves classic status for lovers of the genre. It's just very untypical in its delivery, going for a hallucinogenic and more discomforting style of film-making that Terry Gilliam has made a name for himself on. It won't appease the average viewer who demands more direct service between him/herself and the creative mind behind the film, but it will offer a lot to ponder to those who like partaking in that when the credits role.

~Steven C

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How else to call it if not masterpiece?
rainfall17 November 2006
I've been thinking about what should be the name of my review's summary but I'm not going to invent bicycle here, because "Matserpiece" is still the most appropriate word to describe Terry Gilliam's "Brazil". Many times in my life I have encountered people who've never been able to understand this film. Actually I almost never argued because it's certainly different kind of movie-making. Different view. And it's not for everyone. I recently purchased the collector's DVD box and was stunned once again by the level of Gilliam's visual aesthetics. I've had pleasure seeing only one of his films in cinema - "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" - and it's a big pity because "Brazil" is certainly worth it, too. But behind the perfect visual picture there's much more. And this is something that can't be seen by those people who don't understand the film, because they aren't able to correlate the exterior look and it's inner contents. Often compared to other geniuses of surrealism like Luis Bunuel, Marco Ferreri, David Lynch and even Federico Fellini, Gilliam continues tradition of brilliant and stunning imagery while also attempting to express the workings of the subconscious. But Gilliam's touch adds new lines to the cinema of sur, extending it with amazing Python-style sense of humour. Actually surrealism, in my opinion, is impossible without the thin humour and it maybe makes Gilliam the last great cinema surrealists of the XXth century. Before purchasing DVD, last time I've seen Brazil was about 5 years ago and thought that I've remembered it very clear. But when I rewatched it, it's been quite different experience. There's something in this film that makes possible reviewing it multiple times and find new details and plot treats. In general, it's a unique dystopian avant-garde that can't be compared to anything else. Unitary sample as they say.
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My all-time favorite
jeremyglick10 November 2003
Before Brazil, I had probably never appreciated a film on more than one or two levels. Perhaps it was timing, or perhaps it was mere luck, but Terry Gilliam's work taught me the full potential a motion picture has to entertain, captivate, and provoke the thoughts of its audience. I have watched it many times since that initial viewing, and Brazil never fails to impress me on some level with its dark humor, its light humor, its message of unswerving optimism, or its message of unforgiving fatalism.

I have tried to impress others with the depth and breadth of this film, with varying success, but have concluded it's something others just have to discover for themselves. For me, Brazil will stay the measuring stick by which I compare all great films.
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Suspicion breeds confidence.
Jessica Carvalho28 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
''Brazil '' is directed by Monty Python member Terry Gilliam, but very different from the Monty Python's movies, ''Brazil'' is very depressing and more complicated to understand, since many scenes of the movie defies our logic. I loved Robert De Niro as Tuttle, and it was a surprise to see him in this movie, since it doesn't look the kind of movie he would work in. The movie is not bad, I only expected much more from it, since it is a movie with a high rate here in IMDb, and I saw so many people saying good things about it, even my dad. But I found the movie extremely boring in the beginning, not to mention that Sam's illusions are hard to follow, since you don't know if he is dreaming or actually awake. I don't have problems with surrealism, I don't need ''happy endings'' to enjoy a movie, and usually, I like movies that are not exactly logical or linear, before anyone send me a message saying that I don't understood the plot or I like pre-chewed scripts.

I liked the samurai sequence, that was based in Akira Kurosawa films, and also the song "Aquarela do Brasil", played in this movie. Akira is one of my favorite directors and ''Aquarela do Brasil'' is a typical song from my country.

I also think that this movie is based not only in "1984", but also on the works of Franz Kafka, as a guy said in one of the posts from the message board.

The plot: Sam Lowry is a lonely hard-working guy, that has his job as a bureaucrat technician while he dreams and fantasies about liberty and a beautiful blond woman that looks like an angel. In one ordinary day of work, Sam sees a woman that is identical to the one of his dreams. He stays curious about her and searches everything he can about her, until he finds out that she is being haunted by the government. Lowry then makes it his mission to save her and to prove to her that she can trust him. At the same time, he becomes friends with Mr. Tuttle, another guy that is being haunted by the government because of his illegal activities. Sam starts the movie having a pacific ordinary life, to, in the middle, only make illegal stuff to help his ''terrorists'' friends.

The movie becomes less and less coherent when the end approaches,since Sam is having a lot of hallucinations with his mind becoming more ''destroyed'' then ever. The end is very pessimistic in my opinion, but also original and unexpected, with Sam escaping to a dream world because of his insanity.

Ps: I find the character Sam VERY annoying.
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Terry Gilliam's best.
bat-529 January 1999
Brazil is a mad, paperwork obsessed, duct filled, shopping crazy world. In fact, Brazil is today, minus the ducts. Everyone is obsessed with shopping and in order to get anything done within the world of government, there is paperwork to be filled out, and filled out and on and on. Terry Gilliam's Orwellian nightmare is like a merging of Metropolis and his own mad drawings and cut outs the linked the sketches in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Bureaucrats abound in Gilliam's vision, and they run the place. Anyone with free will and imagination is thought to be dangerous. Visually, the film is a marvel of art direction and miniatures flawlessly edited together. So, be like Harry Tuttle. Go out, become a freelance guerilla plumber and try not to get consumed by paperwork. One last item. If you can, get the Criterion version of Brazil. It's the film that Terry Gilliam intended you to see.
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