Saturday, July 09, 2005


One of my favorite movies of all time is Brazil.

And I just saw it again.

Here is a trailer clip.

I've been thinking of this Terry Gilliam movie more and more.

Brazil is a combination science-fiction, despairing black comedy and fantasy that combines elements of Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (1964), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), George Orwell's novel 1984 (and director Michael Radford's 1984 (1984) that opened at about the same time), Kafka's The Trial, Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange (and Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971)), and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982).

Brazil is set in a backwards information-crazy society, that in many ways resembles a world in which the Nazis did not lose World War II. A place where information is of the utmost importance and the individual is not as important as the paper receipts which bear their name.

Sam Lowry exists in such a time, in such a place. He goes through a typical day with his eyes and ears closed to the atrosities against humanity going on all around him. He works for The Department Of Records, an unproductive, low-level branch of The Ministry of Information.

Each day he goes to work because it is his duty as a citizen. He lives mainly in his dreams, away from society. He pictures himself as a hero with wings, rescuing a maiden from the evil. His dreams might be humanities last grasp of hope.

It is Christmas time, and the world acts accordingly. Citizens are living in fear as terrorists terrorize. The government posts propaganda across the state sporting slogans like "Happiness - We Are All In This Together" and "Trust In Haste, Regret In Leisure".

The know-all government is not without its errors. Warrents for the arrest of a rebel Harry Tuttle accidentally print Harry Buttle, an innocent family man. He is wrongfully arrested and murdered before the mistake is noticed. A compensation check lands on the desk of Sam's boss, and Sam decides to deliver it to the Widow Buttle, it being Christmas and all.

It is while visiting Mrs. Buttle where he first lays eyes on his dream girl, who he finds out is named Jill Layton. His motives begin to change. No longer does he work "for the good of everyone", but now he lives for himself. His occupies his time searching for his dream girl endlessly. By doing so he breaks countless laws and he himself becomes the target of a rather costly search. Is it possible for a man outside the system to survive, or will the iron fist of the government eventually crush him?

Here is another description:

The morose and complex plot, set in a decaying, terrorist-threatened Londonesque metropolis (with a Fascist government), revolves around a meek and humble urban worker/computer expert in the red tape-plagued, bureaucratic Ministry of Information. As a lone hero, he combats the real technological threat of The Machine Age to his life by his fantasies of defiance as a winged savior.

To escape reality and his grinding down by oppressive, official forces, both in the real world and in his imaginative dreams, he dreamily wings his way into the sky - with lofty but doomed flights - away from technology toward a blonde fantasy-dream girl (Greist).

His apparent salvation from the nightmarish, chaotic, paper-choked, poorly-functioning society comes in the form of a guerrilla heating-engineer and terrorist enemy of the state (De Niro), whose renegade behavior is opposed by the state's own Central Services representative (Hoskins) and sinister MOI official (Palin).

But in the end, the lowly and self-deluded worker is persecuted and tortured to death while again imagining escape to an illusory idyllic paradise that is free of societal restrictions.

However, it may be argued that the existence of 'terrorists' in the film (Jill Layton, Buttle/Tuttle, and Sam are all accused of being terrorists) and various 'terrorist' acts (the restaurant and shop bombing, the blown up car) are deliberately made ambiguous - it is very probable that the central threat of terrorism is the government's way to silence deviation, provoke fear, cover up its multiple errors, and provide a scapegoat enemy. Viewers must interpret this central theme of the film for themselves - and recognize the fact that ironically -- there may be no terrorists at all.

There was a great battle over this film with MCA-Universal Pictures and studio head Sidney Sheinberg which ultimately was won by Gilliam. This saga of Gilliam's struggle with the movie studio was documented in Jack Mathews' book The Battle of Brazil.

Enough said I guess.

At least for now.

It's only a state of mind

And here is the Daily Show video page for your Saturday Morning,

Just in case you need to find something to make you laugh.

I did.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, great movie.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to rent it tonight.

8:21 PM  

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