A hugely talented but socially isolated computer operator is tasked by Management to prove the Zero Theorem: that the universe ends as nothing, rendering life meaningless. But meaning is what he already craves.
Sam Lowry is a harried technocrat in a futuristic society that is needlessly convoluted and inefficient. He dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering bureaucracy, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams. While trying to rectify the wrongful arrest of one Harry Tuttle, Lowry meets the woman he is always chasing in his dreams, Jill Layton. Meanwhile, the bureaucracy has fingered him responsible for a rash of terrorist bombings, and both Sam and Jill's lives are put in danger.Written by
Philip Brubaker <email@example.com>
In preparation for the role, Robert De Niro witnessed neurologists performing brain surgery, because he likened his character's job to that of a brain surgeon. See more »
When Harry Tuttle escapes from Sam Lowry's flat, he is wearing a hood covering his head. When Harry starts to zip-line off the precipice, he is replaced by a stunt double wearing a baseball cap. See more »
[TV commercial jingle]
Central Services: We do the work, you do the pleasure.
TV commercial pitchman:
Hi, there. I want to talk to you about ducts.
See more »
Sidney Sheinberg's name is listed in the credits next to Worst Boy. Terry Gilliam and Sheinberg fought notoriously over the content and release of the film. See more »
The European version contains a few scenes cut from the American release:
Shortly before the troops storm Mrs. Buttle's home, her daughter says to her "Father Christmas cant come if you haven't got a chimney." Mrs. Buttle replies with "You'll see."
A brief scene involving Sam and his mother Ida entering the restaurant where they meet Mrs. Terrain and Shirley. They have to pass through a metal detector in order to gain entrance, and Ida's present to Sam (one of the "Executive Decision Makers", seen later in the movie) sets off the alarm.
Part of the beginning of the first "Samurai" dream sequence, where Sam explores through the concrete labyrinth he finds himself in. In the European release, the Samurai sequence is one long sequence, whereas in the American version is is divided into three separate sequences.
A scene where Sam and Jill lie in bed after the implied consummation of their relationship. Jill has taken off the wig she was wearing in the scene before, and has a pink bow tied around her naked body. She says to Sam: "Something for an executive?" and he unties her.
The "Interrogation" scene, where Sam is charged with all of the violations of the law he committed throughout the film, including "wasting Ministry time and paper."
The "Father Christmas" scene where Helpmann visits Sam after his booking, Helpmann is dressed as Santa Claus. Among other things, Helpmann informs Sam that Jill Layton has been killed... twice.
The European release begins abruptly with the 'Central Services' advert about ducts, and ends with a held shot of Lowry in the cooling tower. No clouds.
Bizarre in its methods but brilliant in its concepts
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.
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