Brazil: Love Conquers All (1985)
"Brazil" is a movie that I love. I love the Orwellian way the story is told, I love the unashamed darkness of the piece, I love the humor. Yet it's a movie that is pretty hard to recommend. You have to really know your friends before you suggest the title.
Terry Gilliam wanted to make his movie...and he did. But the powers that be didn't want his film released because they found it too challenging and too harsh. Gilliam won out and "Brazil" was released as Gilliam saw fit. Yet the story's not over yet. Irritated by the idea of a dark ending and unexplained nuances, the studio wanted a more friendly version of the film. So "Brazil" was re-cut and released as the "Love Conquers All" edition.
This is what I watched today.
It's very interesting to come across this version of the film—it is a testament to how manipulative film editing can be and how catered movies most of the time don't make the best movies. You can't watch the "Love Conquers All" film without comparing it to the original...it's impossible. Still, I will try to make it through spoiler free.
At 94 minutes long, this version of the film is about an hour shorter than the original which could be more appetizing to viewers, but please trust me on this, it's not worth it. This film opens to a shot hovering in the sky, then we cut to a confusing governmental regime in which everything is controlled by paperwork.
The vital essentials of the original are present in "Love Conquers All": a fly in the system causes an innocent man to be carted away to prison, the resulting chaos thereof is enough to make anyone go a little crazy, and Sam Lowry is trying to figure it all out. It's almost a parable of Sisyphus, because every time is seems like everything is going to work out alright—guess again!
So the characters are the same within the story, but the entire point of the movie is completely changed. "Brazil" was a not-so-shy point at big government. It was almost anarchist with how belittling it was to the control of a bureaucracy that borders on a dictatorship.
Sam Lowry is a man who dreams...I think the best way to see how the movies are different is see how they treat Sam's fantasies. In the original, there is a swift cut to Sam's dream as he flies in the sky as a mythical hero. In "Love Conquers All", we have to see Sam, see that he's dreaming and then be granted the vision of his dream. Instead of being a direct possibility, which the original hints it could be, this version makes it clear that the fantasy remains out of the realm of tangible...until the final shot. It's the complete opposite of the original.
The violence is played down and most of the more gruesome moments that made "Brazil" so disgustingly amazing are not included here. The abrupt edits that I loved are not included either and time gets displaced very nonchalantly.
"Brazil" is about the machine, "Love Conquers All" is about the human. Simply by how its edited together and the lines that have been changed, this movie suggests that everything could be a human error instead of a fault with the design.
Voice dubs are included which brings the conversation back to the innocent man. Characters are spliced out of scenes with more cruelty than Terrence Malick has.
Even the music itself is happier when it should be villainous and vice versa.
"Love Conquers All" plays out like a comedic mess, one bad step after the other, instead of an unfortunate conglomeration of chaos. This version is much more confusing than the original, but somehow we are supposed to believe that the characters are much less confused.
A few new shots are included, but for the most part "Love Conquers All" destroys what "Brazil" did.
It's hard to judge it as a stand alone movie, because the point of the film is to pacify and to soften the blow that "Brazil" delivers.
Still, they are working with some great shots and wonderful sets...yet that is not enough to save the "Love Conquers All" edition from complete and utter disaster.
Posted by Micah Jones