A film by Terry Gilliam
1985/UK/ 142 mins/Col
30th Dec 2012; 5.45 pm
Perks Mini Theater
Not only does this film Brazil cover universal issues of human aspirations and feeling, but it also shows us how these are being jeopardized within the ever-enclosing social frame of our modern world. This concern about oppressive social control, of course, is not new. Indeed the issues that Brazil raises concerning how the misuse of information threatens the viability of our social enterprise go back to the 1949 publication of George Orwell’s novel 1984, a story which is Brazil’s thematic inspiration. But in some ways, Brazil presents this threat as an even more comprehensive and disturbing problem than Orwell did.
The narrative In this retro-future milieu concerns the fate of Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), a low-level employee of the government’s Ministry of Information. By means of this ministry, the government maintains a pervasive level of surveillance on society and urges all citizenry to be suspicious and to report everything they see.
The cinematography and special effects in Brazil are remarkable even by today’s standards. There are all sorts of eccentric but mood-inspiring moments, and they flow together into a smooth continuity, even affording such moments as Gilliam’s explicit homage to Segei Eisenstein’s Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin (1925).
It is the illusion of superficial information connectedness that is soul-destroying in Brazil, and Sam Lowry’s soul has not fallen to it. Where Sam’s mind lives is somewhere else – in the world of human aspirations and dreams. -excerpts from review by Film Sufi
Terry Gilliam, born in suburban Los Angeles eight years before the publication of Orwell’s 1984, was both an artist and a social rebel when he came of age in the mid-’60s. And his talent and political irreverence served him well, first as a cartoonist for Harvey Kurtzman’s New York-based Help! magazine, then as the illustrator for the London-based Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
As Gilliam’s career expanded, to include a codirecting assignment with Terry Jones on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and solos as director of Jabberwocky and Time Bandits, so did his horizons. After the success of Time Bandits, a movie rejected by every major studio, Gilliam declined an offer to direct Fox’s big-budget sci-fi adventure Enemy Mine, determined instead to make an antibureaucratic fantasy he called Brazil.
The inspiration for Brazil, as Gilliam explains, came from several intersecting ideas inside his head, all of them having to do with the craziness of our awkwardly ordered society and the desire to escape it through whatever means possible.