Brazil (1985) (R)
It's easy to see the similarities between George Orwell's classic 1984 and Terry Gilliam's movie "Brazil". For starters, the entire story seems copied from the dystopian novel: the leading man who becomes enamored with the a woman who seems too good to be true (though the woman of the film holds no real similarities to the woman of the book), his job, and the consequences of moving a little piece of "the machine"...I'll elaborate.
"Brazil" begins with an aerial shot and words appear on the screen—we are told that it's sometime in the 20th century. Then we zoom down to a society that makes absolutely no sense at first...give it time, patience is a virtue.
The movie is gloriously, nonsensically, borderline psychedelically weird. But unlike other movies which seem to apologize for their oddities (somehow, I feel like "Spirited Away" falls in this category; but I'm not sure why) Terry Gilliam makes sure that you know who's running this show. You are manipulated, thrown around, roughed up, and not given a second thought.
By the time the movie has made it half-way, you get to feeling that Gilliam made the movie for himself and if anyone else should enjoy it...well, that would be a plus.
It's completely mad...and I loved it.
Yes, the 1984 in the film is inescapable...but is it really copied?
Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is stuck in 'the machine' of the society. He works in the government, in records.
I should say, that the opening scenes of the movie lead a fly to buzz into a type-writer-like-contraption and mess up one name...the dead insect turns Tuttle into Buttle—this is the mistake that shapes the rest of the movie. It's the first domino is a long, long string of colorful and bizarre tiles.
Because of what I will now refer to as The Fly in the Ointment Incident (I find myself very clever), Lowry has a mess on his hands that isn't evident all at once. His boss, Mr. Kurtzmann (Ian Holm), is a nervous man who is afraid that he will lose Sam to a promotion. It's being hinted by multiple people that Sam is going to be moved to Information Retrieval.
So The Fly in the Ointment Incident led a man to being wrongfully arrested and he is subsequently killed...oops. Mr. Kurtzmann is so paranoid about losing his job and Sam is always such a big help that it takes no coaxing for Sam to try to sort things out—which, of course, doesn't end well.
It's impossible to talk about "Brazil" without talking about the sets...I think this is the best art direction I have ever seen in a movie—perhaps challenged by "2001: A Space Odyssey". The buildings are tall and unapologetic, much like the film itself. The special effects are quite astonishing; but more than that, the world that Gilliam (who also wrote the screenplay) creates is so wildly creative.
He doesn't give the viewer a second to breathe as he thrusts them from one scene to the next, sparing no extra time for needless descriptions and details. The film is exhausting in its own way—if you were to try to categorize everything you saw, you'd be here for a while.
The minute details of the film is where is succeeds in drawing you into its twisted world.
I would pose the question: is this film science-fiction?
I would also answer: no.
Certainly the film is so close as to be cousins with sci-fi, but I find this more of a parody. It gets more and more outlandish as it plays out that it starts to make fun of itself.
I can see why "Brazil" could be off-putting—it's not everyone's cup of tea. But holy stun guns, Batman, this is quite a film.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones