Brazil (1985) Poster


User Reviews

Review this title
501 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Perhaps the most imaginative and entertaining nightmare ever put on film
gogoschka-111 November 2015
A virtual celebration of writer/director Terry Gilliam's singular creative vision and seemingly limitless imagination, Brazil is a unique movie experience. And it is kind of hard to put the label of any one particular genre on the film; it's generally referred to as "dystopian science fiction" (which certainly isn't wrong), but it's also a satire, a drama, a black comedy and perhaps even a fantasy film. Like many other dystopian sci-fi films (e.g. Fahrenheit 451, Equilibrium, The Hunger Games), Brazil depicts a totalitarian society, but that's about as far as the similarities with other films go.

The whole design of Brazil's crazy world is unlike anything I've ever seen in other movies (with the exception perhaps of those made by the same filmmaker). Where films with similar themes typically go for a futuristic look that is defined by all the technological advancements the writers and filmmakers can dream of, Terry Gilliam chooses the complete opposite direction. In his film, technology seems to have made no progress since somewhere around the forties or fifties, and what technology there is doesn't exactly look very reliable. And unlike other dystopian films, it's not primarily the bleak aspects of a totalitarian society Gilliam wants to explore; in his film, he wants to show how hilariously insane, inept and ridiculous many of the mechanisms and instruments of oppression truly are. In that sense, Brazil is mainly a satire (at least that's how I perceive it), and it is often either darkly funny or downright hilarious.

There is simply not a dull moment in the film: it's a wild ride that never lets up and almost every image on the screen practically bursts with clever (often hilarious) details; from the way food is served in restaurants to how the benefits of plastic surgery are presented, Gilliam's imagination can only be marveled at. His vision of a bureaucracy gone mad is probably the most entertaining nightmare ever put on film (I'm talking about the director's cut, of course). A masterpiece that gets even better after repeat viewings: 10 stars out of 10.

Favorite films:

Lesser-Known Masterpieces:

Favorite Low-Budget and B-Movies:
193 out of 216 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An extraordinary movie, original, funny and frightening. Terry Gilliam's masterpiece.
Infofreak6 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.
309 out of 363 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Perhaps the greatest of all films
JackLint18 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!
695 out of 836 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
"Consumers for Christ"
MrsRainbow5 March 1999
Regarding the symbolism in Brazil, of course that's the point. Lowry's dreams are not all that unique. They are a result of the regimented world he lives in. Look at all of our modern films: the two dominant characters are the rebel and the ordinary joe living a mundane life who somehow escapes from it or begins to do outrageous things.

(That's why I hated Titanic, well, partially. Rose is breaking out of her supposedly constricted life. It's propaganda. It makes it appear that the "freedoms" we have now are exactly what we need in order to escape from the restriction of prejudices and ignorance. Rose tied herself into the ever-growing strait-jacket of modern political myths. But in order to glorify those myths Cameron had to denigrate our past and all that it stood for, making its adherents look like chauvinistic fools. The person I know who liked Titanic the most liked it for that reason - she wanted to escape from her own life and envied Rose. But such people always stop there. They live in their fantasies and never stop to investigate why they feel their lives must be escaped from.)

Another note about the samurai he fights is that it continued to suddenly disappear. Lowry initially didn't know what he was fighting, for one. There really is no definitive enemy to fight. We are boxing shadows. It is a system which has no heart or kill point. That's part of the frustration, particularly for those who can't think abstractly. Most of them lash out at "the media." They can't locate who they're fighting, and so they accept the lies.

Listen to the opening interview on the television. The terrorists are refusing to "play the game." The assumption is that they are simply jealous because someone else is "winning the game." Why play at all? Any hope of that is over though. The 60s was the last gasp of opposition and it got swallowed up. Now the nostalgia for protest is a marketing tool. Consumption is a replacement for thought. When you feel angst you go shopping. We've been convinced that our anxiety is caused by something other than what it really is. Commercials are not about self-gratification, but self-doubt.

I read an interview with Gilliam in which he said the reason he could no longer live in America is that there was an unwillingness to think about anything. In the end, you are fighting the conditioning you have received from your entire culture, in essence, fighting yourself and struggling to regain control of your own mind. Parallels between Lowry seeing his own face and Skywalker seeing the same in Return of the Jedi are illuminating.

The point that Gilliam makes in the end is that the enemy is ubiquitous yet intangible. Lowry wanted to run from it, go "far away," never realizing that you can't escape. We still think in terms of a locus of power. But Gilliam, throughout the last part of the film, continually crushed our naive hopes that somehow we can act out the fantasy that many of us may have, to get away, find the girl of our dreams and live in a trailer in a beautiful setting.

Because we have no fear of physical control, we assume that we are free. Some Americans still believe in the myth of rugged individualism. The system is built on lies and that's what Gilliam was showing. It's a "State of mind." You can't escape. The only place that you can be free is in your head. "He got away from us," as they say at the end. That's really the only hope we have left.

On a lighter note, I derive so much glee from watching Lowry's mother walk around with a boot on her head.
59 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Bizarre in its methods but brilliant in its concepts
Movie_Muse_Reviews8 August 2009
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.

~Steven C

Visit my site
28 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Orwell with a Python twist
redneck-629 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.
228 out of 318 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Intriguing mixture of comedy and dystopia
kylopod25 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.
156 out of 227 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Terry Gilliam's 1984
eibon098 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.
207 out of 311 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Absurd in the best way.
ofpsmith25 March 2016
One of my favorite novels of all time is George Orwell's 1984, and Brazil is very much a comedic interpretation of that. Brazil shows us a hilarious exaggeration of the monotony of machine like run bureaucracy, and man's constant voyage to avoid responsibility. "That's not my department." Everyone seems to say. Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a low ranking government employee. When an error leads to the execution of engineer Archibald Buttle (Brian Miller) instead of terrorist Archibald Tuttle (Robert De Niro), Sam attempts to fix this, and inadvertently becomes an enemy of the state. Read that scenario again. This is a funny movie. It's a dark comedy/political satire, and almost every joke works. The nonchalant attitude of the government depicted in the film is where a big chunk of the humor comes from. It's a very smart comedy. Honestly if you like political satire, then Brazil is one we can all enjoy together.
20 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
One of the top ten films of all times
car-nune29 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.
184 out of 283 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
a masterwork
PAUL_HESLEP6 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!
141 out of 238 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Antagonisten11 July 2006
I have to admit i have always had something of a problem with Terry Gilliam. And having a problem with Terry Gilliam and watching this film is kind of like eating something you're allergic to. The reaction is instant because this movie is just so much Terry Gilliam.

The word that i usually drift towards when watching one of his works is "absurd". It seems to me that the feeling of absurdity is what he always aims at. Usually he also hits his target. The question though is if this makes his movies good or not. Of course things are not that simple. It's always possible to admire or appreciate something without actually liking or enjoying it. That being said i can't really say i've ever enjoyed one of Gilliams films (i came closest with "Twelve Monkeys"), but i have admired a couple of them for their undeniable originality and intelligence.

"Brazil" was difficult for me. The Orwellian world in which it takes place is a very dominating factor in the movie. Although i perceived it to be about humanity (as are most such sad visions of the future) the humans here really take a backseat. The setting, this future world, is grand and painstakingly overworked. From the smallest hissing pipe to the greatest open space there is an attention to detail that speaks volumes about both vision and lack of budget restraints. Of course today the future in Brazil seems irreparably old and dated, but that is almost always the case with science-fiction and visions of the future and it didn't bother me.

What did bother me however was that i didn't really know how to follow the storyline in Brazil. Of course one might say that the storyline was not the point here, and you might be right but i find that to be a problem in and of itself. Characters enter from the side without good explanations, things happen that i understood very little about and of course dream sequences were added and spliced in a way that sometimes made it difficult to know what was reality or dream. Probably that was also something deliberate.

In the end i think that me and Mr. Gilliam simply don't mix. His brand of very black comedy just doesn't strike the right note with me. It's absurd to the point where i don't know how to react. And here we have two hours of disjointed storyline and bizarre events that sometimes seem to have very little to do with each other. It's not the kind of black comedy you laugh at, and at the same time it didn't feel heartfelt in any real way. An impressive display of vision and budget no doubt, and with a surprisingly good ending (of course i count on understanding the story enough to judge), but lacking something to keep it all together.
69 out of 111 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A visual masterpiece
lost-in-limbo16 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¬Ö well, it did on me.
121 out of 205 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An empty desk is an efficient desk
Ali_John_Catterall22 November 2009
Directed by an American, and written by a Czech-born playwright (Tom Stoppard), Brazil - where Monty Python meets Franz Kafka and George Orwell - is nevertheless as British as Big Ben, skewering a peculiarly homegrown strain of small-minded, receipt-issuing bureaucracy (and state-sanctioned torture). Gilliam admits he hadn't actually read 1984 before making it, but the results get remarkably close to the tone and feel of Orwell's novel, with its shabby future-retro technology and terribly polite torturers, while Kim Greist makes a great surrogate Julia to Pryce's Winston Smith. Visually awe-inspiring and, with its terrorist outrages and stultifying red tape, even more timely now than when first released.
21 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The perfect satire
Pa_ag26 May 2020
Gilliam is not a director that appeals to everyone (I can clearly see why this is) but if you are open-minded enough and agree to be taken in a wild ride, then Brazil is the film for you. It is a satire of our modern day world and its meaningless bureaucracy. Some would argue that the film is too long and even boring at times but I would have to disagree, every scene in this movie is packed with amazing imagery and symbolism as well as an insane plot which will keep you interested at all times. If there is someone that knows how to do comedy/satire of this sort its Gilliam, I am even willing to say this is one of the best satires ever created.

After you finish the movie you are left with an eerie feeling that I cant exactly describe, it is as if the world you live in is just as mad as the one in Brazil and the routine you follow is slowly driving you crazy. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone that is a fan of good cinema and is willing to be submerged in the crazy mind of Terry Gilliam.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Visually fantastic but plot needed more work
bob the moo4 December 2001
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.
26 out of 40 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Barely watchable
diffusionx5 July 2000
Brazil has a wonderful premise but nothing else. The idea of a future that is bogged down by endless red tape and paperwork is interesting. The ideas of the plot are interesting, and it seems to have, in theory, a lot of potential behind it (and would nearly end up writing itself). The problem with the movie is that it fails to come through and deliver on just about all of this.

Brazil is terribly boring. So much of the movie feels like dead space: almost like they could have cut about 100 minutes and accomplished pretty much the same thing. It seems disjointed and feels bland; the world here doesn't even seem all that interesting (despite good set design, it just doesn't work as well as movies like Dark City or Batman). The parts that attempt to display just how bureaucracy dominates this world is really do display that; but, I'm sure, on an entirely different level that the film makers intended: they slow down the pace of the movie to a grinding halt and never seem to end.

Brazil has its moments, but they are few. I think that I really enjoyed, at most, about ten minutes here. I loved the opening sequence (unfortunately, it gave me false hope for the remainder), and the first scene with Robert DeNiro was really good. He brought a type of vibrancy to the movie that it desperately needed; unfortunately, he was in the film for far too short of a time. If I had to sum up my feelings about Brazil in one sentence, it would be this: I could just barely stand it for the full duration of the viewing.
53 out of 92 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Terry Gilliam's best.
bat-529 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.
84 out of 159 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Beautiful and deep
Angeneer22 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.
95 out of 185 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
~Emil~24 February 2003
Tagline: It's only a waste of time.

I don't know... so many people have rated it so high, I guess it would be wrong of me to recommend not to watch it to general public. It has good cinematography (hence 5/10) but I found the film extremely boring. It's a satire on our society's bureaucracy, all 142 minutes of it. Some of my favorite films pick a small subject matter and then build up on that going deeper and showing that there are many details inside. This movie just takes the same thing and shows it from every possible angle. Sure it's got nice camera work and great acting to back it up, but the story is just not going anywhere... I got the point after the first hour. Should you watch it? Definitely, all those people can't be wrong bringing it to top #160 right? And it is after all made by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python - one of the greatest comedies of all time) Maybe I just didn't get it.
40 out of 72 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A bloated, pretentious, self-indulgent mess.
slugnutty15 October 2002
Not sure what it is about this movie that I find so loathsome. The visuals are lavish, as if the studio gave Gilliam a blank check and said "go nuts," but for what end? With such a weak story and poorly executed plot, the visuals simply make Brazil the cinematic equivalent of a sodden cake covered in three feet of frosting. Bleah.

Everything is overblown and overdone, from the din of stormtroopers crashing through the walls, to the embarrassingly inept "love story" that Gilliam slams into the middle. It's like being stuck on an ornately decorated carnival ride that looks good but leaves the rider nauseated and wanting to get off.

The film plods, churning away without subtlety or any lightness of touch, until Gilliam finally (finally!) flips off Hollywood with his big depressing finale. I left the theater feeling cheated, of having been subjected to something vulgar and poorly crafted instead of something brilliant and misunderstood.

Sorry, Brazil fanatics, but the Emperor has no clothes.
83 out of 161 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Gilliam at his height
davidmvining16 March 2020
Here, Terry Gilliam found the best outlet for his rambling imagination in Brazil. All it took was including the daydreams of a dreamer in an outrageous future dystopia. This is really the perfect marriage of material and artist, combining the strengths of the artists with the needs of the narrative into a sprawling visionary package that works incredibly well.

This is really an extension of the theme that Gilliam broached in Time Bandits. Instead of a small child yearning for escape from his small minded parents, we have a middle-aged man trapped in his little job in the middle of a massive bureaucracy that dominates a dystopia akin to 1984 but with more ducts. Sam Lowry finds the satisfaction in his life by having no real responsibilities and dreaming of flying over a green pastoral scene unseen in the hellish urban landscape he calls home. He hardly pays attention to the news, the people, or the explosions that go off around him. All that matters to him is his small little life.

Things begin to go wrong for him when both reality and his fantasies begin to coalesce around him. His air conditioning unit in his apartment goes haywire, and he's saved by Harry Tuttle. Tuttle, you see, is wanted by the state for nefarious activities which include not following the rules on how to fix air conditioning units. He got tired of all the paperwork, so he went out on his own, fixing people's air conditioning problems under his own prevue. That's why they sent out the arrest orders at the start of the film that accidentally got changed to Buttle because of a bug in the system (literally) and led to the arrest of an innocent man. Two major things happen in response to these related events. The first is that Sam goes on a mission to work through the bureaucracy and deliver a check that overcharged Buttle for his interrogation to Buttle's wife. Nothing about it works out, of course. The other is that Central Services, the part of the bureaucracy that deals with air conditioning, shows up to Sam's apartment to fix the issue where they find that Tuttle has been at work. Having the power of the bureaucracy at their fingertips, they use arcane rules to make Sam's life a living hell, taking over his apartment completely.

Through all of this is Jill, the real life manifestation of the woman in Sam's dreams. The woman in his dreams is ethereal with long hair, dressed in a flowing white robe, and flying through the air. Jill in reality has short hair, is kind of dirty with a mysterious bandage on one hand, dresses like a man, and has no interest in Sam. In the world that seems to be spinning out of control around him, Sam latches onto Jill, using his tools as a small cog in the bureaucracy to find her, even going so far as to take a promotion into the far more prestigious Information Retrieval department to get a higher security clearance to keep up his search.

When Sam finally meets Jill, he simply won't let the difference between the reality before him and his dreams impede him. He insists on latching onto her as his escape from the awful reality of everyday life. It helps that she is part of the investigation that popped up around Buttle, not Tuttle. She witnessed Buttle's wrongful arrest and had started going around trying to get answers from the bureaucracy, and those kinds of questions aren't treated well by the state. Sam ends up protecting her and, by extension, helping her fall for him.

Just recounting the events of the film doesn't really capture the intelligence and joyful execution. Jonathon Pryce is great as Sam, a man so completely unprepared for the fight that he gets himself into. The supporting cast around him including Ian Holm, Katherine Helmond, Robert de Niro, and Michael Palin. The visual design of everything is top-notch. It's part of the tradition that uses old technology in new ways to create something alien and futuristic. The fantasy sequences themselves are wonderfully designed as well. The final large section of the film that descends into surrealistic madness.

The movie is ultimately about escape, much like Time Bandits, but it ends really differently. In the former movie, Kevin is thrust out into the greater world, having been trapped in a small place. In Brazil, the larger world is itself a prison, so the only place to really escape is inward, and that's exactly what Sam ends up doing. His dreams and fantasies become his reality, the kind of place where love can conquer all, but in the real world outside his induced madness, that sort of victory is impossible. It's a far more depressing view at the theme that Gilliam previously explored, but it's explored wonderfully well and leaves the audience with much to consider.

I really do think that Brazil is Gilliam at his height. It's the greatest combination of his visual aesthetic and a script he ever worked on. It's well acted, well photographed, and done on a huge canvas that can capture the breadth of his imagination.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I wish films like this were mainstream
MoistMovies19 January 2021
When i first watched Brazil when i was 20.. It instantly became one of my top 3 favorite films of all time and introduced me to terry gilliam who I'd never come across before.. I wasn't a big cinephile until I saw this film. It changed the way I saw all films in a totally different way. Since then I've seen thousands more films and Tv series. And its still in the top 3, i re-watch it every couple years. Check my IMDB for a good tool to see if you might like the same films as I do. Brazil won't be for everyone. But its purely everything I would want to make if i had the mind to produce films.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A valid idea done poorly
plupu6621 May 2011
The idea of the individual lost in a mercilessly bureaucratic - and stupid- world is valid and of real concern to modern society. Orwell (in 1984), Kurt Vonegutt (in Harrisson Bergeron) and Kafka (in The Trial) presented it in original (at their time) and compelling ways. Brazil is a Hollywoodesque movie in every way with all the "prescribed" car chases, pretty girl loves pretty boy, evil people are really evil from every point of view, characters are caricatures and some torture/shock scenes thrown in the mix. The film lacks subtlety and keeps "hitting one over the head" with the same message transmitted in the same way. Paradoxically the film seems to be aimed at an intelligent audience but treats this audience with shocks of horror rather than with an insightful discourse. If you wish to see a really good dystopia film see "Harrisson Bergeron". Less shocking, more food for thought.
28 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed