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Thread: Brazil (1985)

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Why see Terry Gilliam's �Brazil�?

    Originally titled �1984��, in a double nod to George Orwell and Federico Fellini, �Brazil� takes place �somewhere in the mid-Atlantic�, in a dystopian retro-future inspired equally by 1920s expressionism, �40s noir and science fiction. Jonathan Pryce is Sam Lowry, a downtrodden, daydreaming drone trapped in an endlessly complex bureaucratic system, who finds his life falling apart when he takes up the case of Archibald Buttle, an ordinary man accidentally arrested in place of Harry Tuttle, a rebel heating engineer played with dashing old-school �lan by Robert De Niro.

    The plot is devilishly complex � taking in torture, terrorist bombings, radical plastic surgery, illegal plumbing, carol-singing secret policemen and loads of ducts � and the cast is nothing less than a who�s who of iconic British character actors, including Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Jim Broadbent, Ian Holm, Ian Richardson and Gorden Kaye, alongside token Yanks De Niro, Kim Greist and the legendary Katherine Helmond as Sam�s ageing beauty-queen mother.

    But perhaps the chief reason to see the film is Gilliam�s direction: working with a bigger budget than he�d ever been given before, the director let his imagination run riot, creating a world which feels at once entrancingly escapist and grimly familiar. From the epic fantasy landscapes of Sam�s dreams to the claustrophobic cocoon of his apartment, from the soul-crushing industrial wasteland of the outer city to the pristine fascist dominance of �The Ministry�, �Brazil� remains one of the most breathtakingly beautiful, painstakingly designed movies ever shot in these isles.

    On its release in 1985, Gilliam�s film was overshadowed by the industry furore which followed in its wake. Produced by Universal Pictures under the aegis of company chairman Sid Sheinberg, the film was viewed as a potential flop by the studio: it was long, bleak, bizarre and confusing. Sheinberg recut the film, excising much of the darker material and tacking on a happy, �love conquers all� ending.But the Hollywood press, aware that the film had already been released to rave reviews across Europe, took up �Brazil� as a cause c�l�bre, even giving it the Los Angeles Critics Association award for Best Film of the year. Universal caved, and �Brazil� was released largely unscathed: albeit to a bemused American audience. The film�s reputation has grown in the years since: it�s now regarded not just as Gilliam�s finest work, but as the best sci-fi movie ever made in the UK.

  2. #2
    Senior Member HUGHJAMPTON's Avatar
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    Rather a bold statement to say it's the best SF ever made in the UK, but it is one of the best British films of the 1980's

    The little girl being asked by the store Santa as to what she'd like for Christmas and replying "My own credit card" always gets me, as does the woman walking her dog with the crossed plasters on it's bottom so as not to foul the pavement

    Excellent performances by Pryce and Holm, and for me, Gilliam's most visually stunning.

    I believe the cooling towers in Croydon, used for the torture scene have now been demolished, and the ground now occupied by an Ikea store.


  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    I love Brazil. Terry G's work may be infuriating at times and incomprehensible at others, but this was probably his most fully realised fantasy. The second film in his unofficial trilogy (first was Time Bandits, third was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen), it presented a skewed 1984 in which government red tape stifles all aspects of life. Into this bureaucratic mess is catapulted Sam Lowry, a mild mannered clerk/librarian who has dreams like Billy Liar of being an armour-plated superhero, always getting his Jill (beautifully played in both dream and real guise by Kim Griest). Like Kafka's K, though, Lowry is doomed within the confines of the world he lives in. It is a film of great wonder and childlike enthusiasm, and is probably Jonathan Pryce's best film role.

  4. #4
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    A fascinating film, a must-see!!!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    The conclusion is said to be a recognisable and deliberate nod to McGoohan's Fall Out in TV's The Prisoner. I have no idea if Gilliam has ever admitted to that. It was filmed inside the now-vanished Cooling Towers of Croydon's power-station - now an Industrial Village largely dominated by that branch of IKEA... Truly awesome.

    I loved Time Bandits and Brazil is stupendous. I've never made it past 10 minutes of Munchausen.


  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    The other bit that really makes me laugh is Jack Lint's daughter little Holly (played by Holly Gilliam, Terry's daughter) who has the wonderful throwaway line ""Put it on, big boy. I won't look at your willy."

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: England zettel45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7 View Post
    Why see Terry Gilliam's ‘Brazil’?
    The film’s reputation has grown in the years since: it’s now regarded not just as Gilliam’s finest work, but as the best sci-fi movie ever made in the UK.
    That's a bold claim. But what would the other contenders be? Quatermass and the Pit? A Clockwork Orange?

    Anyway, Brazil's fab of course, and makes me wish Michael Palin had done more straight acting - he's excellently creepy as the "head boy" torturer.

  8. #8
    GRAEME
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    Quote Originally Posted by zettel45 View Post
    That's a bold claim. But what would the other contenders be? Quatermass and the Pit? A Clockwork Orange?
    There are lots of contenders! Alien, for one. The Day the Earth Caught Fire, for another. 2001 A Space Odyssey. Oh, and Flash Gordon... Er...

  9. #9
    Senior Member Country: England zettel45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GRAEME View Post
    There are lots of contenders! Alien, for one. The Day the Earth Caught Fire, for another. 2001 A Space Odyssey. Oh, and Flash Gordon... Er...
    Alien - strong contender and a film I'm very, very fond of. Mind you, despite the great visuals/lighting etc it's just a slasher-movie in space, albeit a very superior example.

    The Day the Earth Caught Fire - haven't seen it in so long I'm not competent to judge.

    2001 A Space Odyssey - another strong contender hampered only by the fact that it's a load of old tosh. (Should I have put "imho" in there? No: it really is a load of old tosh.)

    Flash Gordon - Remarkably, Queen's theme song is the best thing about it. That's probably the most damning thing ever said a about a movie ever, ever, ever.

  10. #10
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zettel45 View Post
    That's a bold claim. But what would the other contenders be? Quatermass and the Pit? A Clockwork Orange?
    Fahrenheit 451
    Most of the Star Wars films
    Blade Runner
    Superman
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Time Bandits
    Judge Dredd
    The Fifth Element
    28 Days Later
    and on and on and on

    Brazil is very good, but there have been a LOT of SF films made (at least partially) in the UK. The IMDb records hundreds of them.
    The decision as to which is the best is very much down to personal preference. There is no one clear winner

    Steve

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: United States will.15's Avatar
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    Dr. Strangelove is a science fiction film and much better than Brazil. I personally think Brazil is very overrated and would rank at least a half dozen British sci-fis over it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will.15 View Post
    Dr. Strangelove is a science fiction film and much better than Brazil. I personally think Brazil is very overrated and would rank at least a half dozen British sci-fis over it.
    I thought Dr Strangelove was scarily close to the truth......

    Especially with that nutty American Air-Force guy who kept deliberately overflying Russian airspace...... What was his name?...

    Ah Yes...... Le May......

    Back on Gilliam. I stumbled over his Brothers Grimm a while back on TV and thought it pretty damn good; but I had never heard of it. I recall the dreadfull Munchausen being promoted heavily (back in the day) but had never noted the Grimm movie until I chanced to watch it. I probably just don't pay enough attention.


  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK didi-5's Avatar
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    I like Baron Munchausen ... am I really that much in the minority? A rare late screen credit for John Neville plus a scene stealing performance from little Sarah Polley, plus that balloon made out of knickers. Typically Gilliamesque and very much nodding towards the Python of old.

    Haven't seen the Brothers Grimm yet but did watch Dr Parnassus and liked that a lot, despite the obvious joins when the late Heath Ledger was replaced by Depp, Law, Farrell ...

  14. #14
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    Brazil is awesome....

  15. #15
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by didi-5 View Post
    I like Baron Munchausen ... am I really that much in the minority? A rare late screen credit for John Neville plus a scene stealing performance from little Sarah Polley, plus that balloon made out of knickers. Typically Gilliamesque and very much nodding towards the Python of old.
    No Didi...you're not alone, Munchausen is a fav Gilliam of mine, remember Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman and Robin Williams (the delirious king of the moon) are in too

    Last edited by moonfleet; 31-05-11 at 10:47 PM.

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