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 Buttle, 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tom Cruise was considered for the role of Sam Lowry, back when the character was meant to be younger, but he didn't want to test for it. See more »
When Lowry enters Lint's office, Lint is seen from the side wearing a clean white lab coat. The towel to his left is almost clean. Then Lint turns around to Lawry. All of a sudden coat, its sleeves and towel are bloodied. 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 Sid Sheinberg Edit, never released but prepared for syndicated television, makes many significant changes. Several lines of dialogue were changed, using many alternative and unused shots. The movie was edited down to 94 minutes, removing many major scenes, placing more emphasis on Tuttle's character and Sam's relationship with Jill.
The opening Central Services advertisement for ducts stops just before the shop window explodes. It then cuts straight to the restaurant explosion scene, with none of the dialogue leading up to it, beginning only with Shirley offering Sam the salt and the following explosion. The title "Brazil" then appears and the scene ends.
During the prologue in which the fly falls in the typewriter, the scene cuts back and forth to text on a computer screen explaining the plot premise, including a voice over reading it aloud.
All the fantasy sequences are missing, except the scene of Sam flying through clouds - which is shortened and has a glowing effect applied to indicate it is a dream.
Extended dialogue in the scenes where Sam meets Jack at Information Retrieval, before he is distracted by Jill on the TV screens. The screens change to show Jill as she appears in Sam's dreams.
It is never stated that Mr Buttle is dead, only asked by his wife.
When Sam goes to visit Mrs Buttle at Shangri-La Towers, instead of morosely screaming "What have you done with his body?" she begins hitting Sam with paper with the line "Lousy bastard" dubbed over.
Lots of the swearing was dubbed over with tamer dialogue, often very badly. Several of Sam's swears are replaced with "Judas!".
Alternative dialogue in the scene in Jack's office. In this version, Sam puts on the suit earlier before having a conversation with Jack about Tuttle, and Jack's daughter is never shown on screen.
A cut of Casablanca featuring the line "Here's lookin' at you, kid." Right after Sam leaves Kurtzmann's office.
Extended dialogue between Jill and Sam in the truck.
You don't see the guard on fire when the Police vehicle crashes after the truck chase.
When armed guards manhandle Jill after the apartment store explosion, Sam simply picks up a plastic arm from a shop dummy and prepares to fight. The giant samurai warrior is not seen at all in this version.
Extended, more romantic dialogue between Sam and Jill after Tuttle switches the pipes at Sam's flat. Jill explains to Sam that she "looked him up" to find out where he lived.
After Sam is arrested, it cuts straight to the torture chamber scene, as in the US theatrical cut. However, Jack's mask is never explicitly shown and a different, close-up shot is used when Jack confronts Sam in the chair.
After the ministry building is blown up, a 'deleted' form ordering the arrest of Harry Tuttle is shown on screen. The following scene of Tuttle being attacked by paper is then taken out of context, implying the Ministry is eliminating him using supernatural powers (it is not revealed to be a dream in this version).
After Tuttle's disappearance, it cuts immediately to Sam and Jill driving in the truck, with no explanation for how they escaped arrest. There is then a sequence set in the countryside showing Jill on a farm. Sam is shown asleep in bed (re-using a shot from earlier the film). The camera zooms to show a picture on the wall of a winged Sam, before cutting to a dream shot of Sam carrying Jill and flying up into the clouds.
The credits are displayed on a background of clouds. However, the image of Sam sitting in the torture chair is still visible superimposed over it, as seen in the US theatrical cut.
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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