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Customer Review

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A film that seems as new now as it did 25 years ago, 23 Aug. 2010
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This review is from: Brazil [1985] [DVD] (DVD)
It's not often that you sit down to watch a film first released a quarter of a century ago and feels like you are watching one that could have been released yesterday, but such was my experience with Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

The nightmare future it paints seems as apposite now as it did in the 1990s - being one based on suffocating bureaucracy, widespread and intrusive government surveillance and a paranoid response to terrorist attacks.

The future world is not only beautifully designed, down to numerous small details, but by picking a visual style that is '1930s modern' (sophisticated machinery but with a touch of the pre-electronic era with manual typewriter keyboards and compressed air driven communication systems), Gilliam ensured that the look would not date.

The targets of his caricatures have also stood the test of time, whether it's the idea of unhelpful telephone support lines (with the calls to Central Services to fix a plumbing problem resulting in the same sort of frustrating response that - badly - automated phone systems do today) or the stifling grip of paperwork and a bureaucracy that concentrates on ensuring all the paperwork is in order (tick-box culture, anyone?). The way bureaucrats in the film reduce a woman's fear that her wife has died to a matter of complaint forms and receipts immediately chimes and brings to mind current events such as the way in which Haringey Council responded to its failure to protect Baby P from death by talking about how good its paperwork and procedures were. The scenes of suspected terrorists being arrested, trussed up and bundled away likewise bring to mind pictures of Guantanamo Bay, orange jump suits and all. And in these post-credit crunch times the line, "If you hold out [confessing] too long it could jerpordise your credit rating" sounds all too current.

But perhaps my favourite touch are the government posters saying "Don't suspect a friend. Report him". A film-maker wishing to satirise current governments couldn't do much better.

The plot itself isn't up to much. It is pretty standard fare for this sort of dystopian future film. In its favour is the fact that the plot is 25 years old; the intervening years and films with similar plots make Brazil's plot seem more formulaic than it would have at the time. Even so, the plot is not the reason to watch the film - particular if you don't like a predictable romantic interlude set in a bleak future.

Instead, it is the visual richness and the overall picture of society it is satirising that make the film. Well worth getting and watching.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jun 2011 21:12:33 BDT
ChrisWN says:
The movie came out in the 80s, not the 90s....1986 I believe.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2011 22:34:11 BDT
Last edited by the author on 15 Jun 2011 22:34:21 BDT
Mark Pack says:
Good spot Chris. Got the years right in the headline but typo slipped in further down, drat.

Posted on 13 Apr 2012 12:47:05 BDT
Buddy says:
Not only is this a great film it is one of many films that blows the whistle on the events of 9/11, see when Jonathan Price is having his dream near the beginning where he flies into two towers coming out of the ground. Then he wakes from his dream and a little T.V. shoots out of the wall with 9/11 written on it. I saw Wim Wenders American Friend made in 1977 blow the whistle on 9/11, so that means it must have been in the planning for over 30 years, by the 'powers that be'.See how many films you can spot, or go on YOUTUBE for clips from the films.
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Review Details



Mark Pack
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   

Location: London, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 513