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The Battle of Brazil: A Video History (1996)

The struggle of the release of Brazil in the US is explained in this Criterion documentary.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Credited cast:
Jack Mathews ...
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Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marvin Antonowsky ...
Himself
Mark Finkle ...
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...
Himself
...
Himself (archive footage)
Frank Price ...
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...
Himself
...
Himself (voice interviews)
Kenneth Turan ...
Himself
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The struggle of the release of Brazil in the US is explained in this Criterion documentary.

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1.33 : 1
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Quotes

Terry Gilliam: The only words I could say during this were Fuck, Shit, and Piss.
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References Twelve Monkeys (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

if you don't feel like reading 200 pages, but you want to know the Brazil history, its a must-see
2 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I saw this documentary a few times as part of the collection of supplements with the brilliant Brazil Criterion DVD package. This details, in short, about the problems that went into releasing Brazil in the United States. I've read critic Jack Matthews book, and it gives more for your buck than the documentary, especially if you're really fascinated by the story of this battle and its 'gory' details (it's one of my personal favorites). But in giving the highlights, and some fairness to each side, it works out well. We get interviews with Terry Gilliam, his thoughts about what went down between him and Universal executive Sidney Sheinberg, and he isn't totally biased in retrospect. "To be fair," he says, "it wasn't a fair fight, because people will always pull for the little guy." The little guy, in this case, is the old but never tired story of the filmmaker who can't get his vision released.

The first twenty minutes details of how the deal went down, the similar exuberance in his films that was in the deal made at Cannes in 1983. But then it shifts right away into the issues of releasing the film. Interestingly, aside from the US the international markets had no problem with the two hour and twenty-two minute version of Brazil, but unfortunately, contracts and ideas about an 'audience' went in the way. Soon enough, Sheinberg, who thought there was huge commercial potential in what was to him a film flawed but worthwhile, didn't see the point of Gilliam's: if you want to change it, put your name on it, but a Gilliam film is only a Gilliam film if its his version entirely. So, Matthews became a kind of soundboard between then, escalating in some hilarious, if kind of ugly, results.

It isn't just Gilliam talking here, but also a couple of clips from the usually optimistic producer Arnon Milchan, and crucially the clips from the executives at Universal, who were not as adamant about changing the film as Sheinberg was. Who, by the way, is presented here in sound-bytes. It's interesting still how things aren't as cut and dry as one might expect in a battle of sorts between Gilliam and the industry. One can see who won in the end, the film, which is now one of Gilliam's most popular and great films, and if nothing else this one-hour doc presents some compelling arguments, and history, about what it takes to get through the system. I would recommend the book more, if you can find it (its not very expensive, and includes the director's cut of the screenplay with awesome Gilliam drawings). But if all you're looking to spend on is the terrific DVD package, its like a sweet icing on a beautiful cake of extras.


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