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 (Jonathan Pryce) 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 (Brian Miller), Lowry meets the woman he is always chasing in his dreams, Jill Layton (Kim Greist). Meanwhile, the bureaucracy has fingered him responsible for a rash of terrorist bombings, and Sam and Jill's lives are put in danger.Written by
Philip Brubaker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
According to Writer and Director Terry Gilliam, several people walked out of screenings of this movie. See more »
When Sam Lowry is overwhelmed by the incoming cylinders coming through the pneumatic tubes, he connects the "incoming" pipe to the "outgoing" pipe with a short U-shaped hose. The bend in the hose is far too sharp a turn for any of the cylinders to make it to the "outgoing" pipe. 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.
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.
223 of 310 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this