Brazil (1985) Poster

(1985)

User Reviews

Add a Review
529 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
10/10
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: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-Known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls054808375/
55 out of 59 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
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.
273 out of 317 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
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!
630 out of 745 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
8/10
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.
205 out of 289 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
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.
197 out of 297 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
9/10
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.
132 out of 197 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
10/10
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.
173 out of 269 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
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.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
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.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
4/10
Disjointed
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.
30 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
loading
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews