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Reviews & Ratings for
Brazil More at IMDbPro »

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551 out of 641 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps the greatest of all films

10/10
Author: JackLint from Seattle WA, USA
18 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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252 out of 286 people found the following review useful:

An extraordinary movie, original, funny and frightening. Terry Gilliam's masterpiece.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
6 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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182 out of 221 people found the following review useful:

Orwell with a Python twist

8/10
Author: (redneck-6) from Texas, United States
29 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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176 out of 226 people found the following review useful:

Terry Gilliam's 1984

9/10
Author: marquis de cinema from Boston, MA
8 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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154 out of 199 people found the following review useful:

One of the top ten films of all times

10/10
Author: Carlos Nunez (car-nune@uniandes.edu.co) from Bogota, Colombia
29 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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116 out of 132 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing mixture of comedy and dystopia

9/10
Author: kylopod (kylopod@aol.com) from Baltimore, MD
25 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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125 out of 174 people found the following review useful:

a masterwork

9/10
Author: paul heslep from toledo, ohio
6 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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100 out of 136 people found the following review useful:

A visual masterpiece

10/10
Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter's tea party.
16 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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78 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

Terry Gilliam's best.

Author: Jeff (spoonjef@aol.com) from L.A. CA
29 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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88 out of 138 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful and deep

10/10
Author: Angeneer from Athens, Greece
22 February 2001

When Brazil was released, I was an early teenager and I couldn't find anything exciting in this gloomy and old-fashioned movie. How wrong I was! Since then, I've seen it again many times and have appreciated every single bit of it. It's a masterpiece and I can now say I consider it the best sci-fi film ever made! Simply brilliant! As with all great films, there's no need to describe specific scenes or events to justify its greatness. Finally, let me link this film with Monty Python works. Terry Gilliam proves here why comedy is a very serious matter. Brazil is not comedy, although it has its moments, but he makes evident that a good comedian can produce a much deeper and dramatic film than a "serious" director.

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