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Brazil [Blu-ray]  [US Import]
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Featuring a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
If Franz Kafka had been an animator and film director--oh, and a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus--Brazil is the sort of outrageously dystopian satire one could easily imagine him making. In fact it was made by Terry Gilliam, who is all of the above except, of course, Franz Kafka. Be that as it may, Gilliam captures the paranoid-subversive spirit of Kafka's The Trial (along with his own Python animation) in this bureaucratic nightmare-comedy about a meek government clerk named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) whose life is destroyed by a simple bug. It's not a software bug but a real bug (no doubt related to Kafka's famous Metamorphosis insect) that gets squashed in a printer and causes a typographical error unjustly identifying an innocent citizen, one Mr Buttle, as suspected terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro). When Sam becomes enmeshed in unravelling this bureaucratic tangle, he himself winds up labelled as a miscreant. The movie presents such an unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of 20th-century bureaucracy that it almost became a victim of small-minded studio management itself--until Gilliam surreptitiously screened his cut for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who named it the best movie of 1985 and virtually embarrassed Universal into releasing it. --Jim Emerson
On the DVD: Brazil comes to DVD in a welcome anamorphic print of the full director's cut--here running some 136 minutes. Disappointingly the only extra feature is the 30-minute making-of documentary "What Is Brazil?", which consists of on-set and behind-the-scenes interviews. There's nothing about the film's controversial release history (covered so comprehensively on the North American Criterion Collection release), nor is Gilliam's illuminating, irreverent directorial commentary anywhere to be found. The only other extra here is the ubiquitous theatrical trailer. A welcome release of a real classic, then, but something of a missed opportunity. --Mark Walker --This text refers to an alternate Blu-ray edition.
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Top customer reviews
A concrete manifestation of a nightmare and also a giant metaphor of totalitarism hidden behind a capitalistic system based on consumerism and corporation.
But, apart from that, Brazil is not just a sociological film, but an intimate, absurd and compelling tale of a man's solitude, whose surreal and dreamy (or nightmarish) parts are maybe the best, not only visually, but also dramatically. The supporting role of De Niro is surprising and darkly ironic.
It is quite excessive and heavy, so not enjoyable on any occasion, but such a personal and visually beautiful film.
The blu ray is excellent, exposing the complex and rich visual quality of the film
Jonathan Pryce plays Sam Lowry, a Ministry of Information employee. His job is soul-crushing, and he relieves the tedium with daydreams about himslf as a winged hero who saves a beautiful woman from a masked monster. These fantasies are the film's most fascinating element; they incorporate details from Sam's everyday life and create wonderful images, like a brickwork creature with the face of Sam's boss. When he sees a rebel (Kim Griest) who's the spit of the woman from his dreams he's inspired to find her and take on their repressive government.
Brazil is a satire of beauracracy. Everything in director Terry Gilliam's world, even human life, is controlled by machines and paperwork. Early on we see an innocent working-class family torn apart when their father is accused of terrorism. This turns out to be an error though it's not spotted soon enough to reverse the damage, and the government cares more about assigning blame anyway. Gilliam presents this dystopia beautifully. I loved all the weird machines which are meant to help but only hinder, like a breakfast maker that isn't as useful as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's.
Brazil's major flaw is its scattershot narrative. The plot doesn't flow so much as lurch from one point to another, leaving behind characters who seem like they should be around more. Robert De Niro and Kim Griest, for instance, are underused. I'd have liked to know more about Griest's rebel, who has few lines which don't simply push the plot forward. That said, her counterpart in Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith's lover Julia, is presented much the same way.
Ultimately, Brazil is a film of imagery and performance rather than plot. Gilliam evokes a world which is fun to explore and his satire's dead on. The ending is perfect; you'll rarely see a bleaker use of misdirection.
It's only a state of mind. Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry in this surrealistic spectacle about a daydreaming bureaucrat trapped in a future dystopia where love is forbidden from interfering with efficiency. But with the help of an underground superhero [Robert De Niro] and a beautiful mystery woman [Kim Greist], Sam learns to soar to freedom on the wings of his untamed imagination, or so he thinks. Acclaimed filmmaker Terry Gilliam directs with an acerbic wit and poet's eye that dazzles like never before in glorious high.
FILM FACT: Awards and Nomination: Academy Awards®: Nominated: Original Screenplay. Nominated: Best Art Direction for Norman Garwood and Maggie Gray. Ary Barroso's 1939 song "Aquarela do Brasil" ("Watercolor of Brazil", often simply "Brazil") in a version specifically performed by Geoff Muldaur is the leitmotif of the movie, although other background music is also used. Michael Kamen, who scored the film, originally recorded "Brazil" with vocals by Kate Bush. This recording was not included in the actual film or the original soundtrack release; however, it has been subsequently released on re-pressings of the soundtrack. According to Gilliam in an interview with Clive James in his online programme “Talking in the Library,” to his surprise ‘BRAZIL’ is apparently a favourite film of the far right in America.
Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughan, Kim Greist, Jim Broadbent, Barbara Hicks, Charles McKeown, Derrick O'Connor, Kathryn Pogson, Bryan Pringle, Sheila Reid, John Flanagan, Ray Cooper, Brian Miller, Simon Nash, Prudence Oliver, Simon Jones, Derek Deadman, Nigel Planer, Terence Bayler, Gorden Kaye, Tony Portacio, Bill Wallis, Winston Dennis, Jack Purvis, Elizabeth Spender, Antony Brown, Myrtle Devenish, Holly Gilliam, John Pierce Jones, Ann Way, Don Henderson, Howard Lew Lewis, Oscar Quitak, Harold Innocent, John Grillo, Ralph Nossek, David Gant, James Coyle, Patrick Connor, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Russell Keith Grant, Sue Hodge, Sadie Corre (uncredited), Margarita Doyle (uncredited), Dominic Ffytche (uncredited), Terry Forrestal (uncredited), Terry Gilliam (uncredited), John Hasler (uncredited), Frank Jakeman (uncredited), Sergio Kato (uncredited) and Peter Sands (uncredited)
Director: Terry Gilliam
Producers: Arnon Milchan and Patrick Cassavetti
Screenplay: Charles McKeown, Terry Gilliam and Tom Stoppard
Composer: Michael Kamen
Cinematography: Roger Pratt
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 137 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘BRAZIL’  is from director/co-screenwriter Terry Gilliam, and is a combination of science-fiction, despairing black comedy and fantasy that combines elements of Fritz Lang's ‘Metropolis’ , Stanley Kubrick's ‘Dr. Strangelove’ , ‘Fahrenheit 451’ , Stanley Kubrick's ‘A Clockwork Orange’  and Ridley Scott's ‘Blade Runner’ .
Throughout this superb film that satirizes modern technological society; one can glimpse numerous government propaganda signs, billboards, posters and writings that preach conformity and Big Brother wariness - all references to Orwell's 1984. [The signs are credited to co-scriptwriter Charles McKeown.] Police are represented as Nazi-like storm troopers, and the names of two major officials have stereotypical German names: Kurtzmann and Helpmann.
The influential film's enigmatic title refers to the popular Latin song from the late 1930s by Arry Barroso, often used as an escapist theme in the orchestral soundtrack by Michael Kamen. Other titles were considered for the film: ‘The Ministry of Torture,’ ‘1984’ (homage to Fellini's ‘8 ½’), and ‘How I Learned to Live with the System,’ so far. The normal workers in society are docile, powerless, and obedient - to avoid calling attention to themselves and ending up eradicated (literally and figuratively) from the files in the Ministry of Information's flawed computer system.
This popular and compelling film with a large cult following is one of the most visually imaginative, breath-taking, eccentric films ever created, with incredible sets, dazzling inventiveness and production design by Norman Garwood. The film is so visually dense that it takes several viewings to fully comprehend i.e., the billboard slogans, the user-unfriendly technical gadgets, the unforgettable images, etc. The most memorable and outrageous components in the absurdist film include the ugly, violent, nightmarish urban environment, and the miles of inept plumbing, piping and ductwork that continually proliferate and threaten to malfunction. The title is based on the Ary Barroso/S.K. Russell song of the same name, with the lyrics: "Brazil” and includes the words, “Where hearts were entertaining June.” “We stood beneath an amber moon.” “And softly murmured 'someday soon,'” “We kissed and clung together,” “Then, tomorrow was another day,” “The morning found me miles away” and “With still a million things to say."
The morose and complex plot, set in a decaying, terrorist-threatened London type metropolis with a Fascist government, revolves around a meek, unambitious, and humble urban worker/computer expert named Sam Lowry [Jonathan Pryce] in the red tape-plagued, bureaucratic Ministry of Information. As a lone hero, he combats the real technological threat of “The Machine Age” to his life by his fantasies of defiance as a winged saviour during his nightly dreams. To escape reality and his grinding down by oppressive, official forces, both in the real world and in his imaginative dreams, in the form of evil creatures, he dreamily wings his way into the sky with lofty but doomed flights and away from technology toward a blonde fantasy-dream girl [Kim Greist]. The film's chain of events is set in motion by a clerical error, which condemns an innocent man, and causes Sam to meet his dream girl who is a suspected terrorist. His apparent salvation from the nightmarish, chaotic, paper-choked, poorly-functioning society comes in the form of a guerrilla heating-engineer and terrorist enemy of the state Harry Tuttle [Robert De Niro], whose renegade behaviour is opposed by the state's own Central Services representative [Bob Hoskins] and Sam's friend-turned-sinister MOI official Jack Lint [Michael Palin]. But in the end, the lowly and self-deluded worker is persecuted and tortured to death while again imagining escape to an illusory idyllic paradise that is free of societal restrictions.
However, it may be argued that the existence of “terrorists” in the film i.e., Jill Layton [Kim Greist], Harry Buttle [Robert De Niro] and Sam Lowry [Jonathan price] are all accused of being terrorists, and various “terrorist” acts, i.e., the restaurant and shop bombing, the blown up car, are deliberately made ambiguous and it is very probable that the central threat of terrorism is the government's way to silence deviation, provoke fear, cover up its multiple errors, and provide a scapegoat enemy. Viewers must interpret this central theme of the film for themselves and recognise the fact that ironically and there may be no terrorists at all.
Former animator Terry Gilliam, is famous for his work in the TV comedy ‘Monty Python's Flying Circus’ and in his two previous films ‘Time Bandits’  and ‘Monty Python's The Meaning of Life’ , and wrote the screenplay for the bleak, futuristic film with playwright Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown. Its two Academy Award nominations were for Best Screenplay and Best Art Direction/Set Decoration both unrewarded with Oscars. The film, a merging of fantasy and reality, was considered part of a "dreamer" trilogy, of sorts, an Age of Reason trilogy reflecting the different ages of man's reason and of Terry Gilliam himself, in which reason is the opposite of fantasy and dreaming.
The film fared poorly and disappointingly at the box-office. However, in intervening years, especially after the release of the original, full-length Director's Cut (142 minutes long, combining footage from both the American and European theatrical release versions) which of course is the shorter version with this particular Blu-ray disc, and it has been critically-acclaimed as a social satire on the dehumanising, claustrophobic effects of technology and government, and regarded as one of the greatest cult classics ever made.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The film has been framed at 1.85:1 for this 1080p transfer. It’s a stunning-looking encode with superb sharpness which offers tons of detail to the viewer and colour saturation which is rich without ever going overboard. Flesh tones are very realistic and appealing throughout. While black levels may be a shade or two lighter than optimum levels, the wonderfully dialled-in contrast makes the most of the image quality and is by far the best the film has ever looked on home video.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio track might not have the rich fidelity of more modern movie fantasies, but it plays quite well for the purposes of this film. If the explosions lack a bit of depth and impact and there are a fair number of them in the film, the other sound effects and the music all come forth very well in this lossless transfer. Dialogue is always discernible, especially as it is always placed in the centre channel with the 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo Audio track.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extra:
Special Feature: What Is Brazil?  [480i] [4:3] [29:08] This is on-set documentary directed by Rob Hedden, Terry Gilliam, editor Julian Doyle, co-writer Tom Stoppard, co-writer Charles McKeown, co-producer Patrick Cassavetti, and actors Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Helmond, Kim Greist and Michael Palin, among others, discuss what ‘BRAZIL’ is and what is its messages is. Sadly the quality of this documentary is of totally shocking quality and would have been best it had not been included and have had some other extra from The Criterion Collection for example.
Theatrical Trailer  [1080i] [1.77:1] [3:30] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for ‘BRAZIL,’ but for some unknown reason it starts off as Black-and-White images, then eventually goes into colour, very strange?
Finally, arguably Terry Gilliam's magnum opus, 'Brazil' is a bizarrely surreal, highly-imaginative black comedy set in a bleak, mechanical future. The frightful vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic hell is a visually-arresting film where fantastical dreams merge with dreary nightmares and features terrific performances by Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro and Michael Palin. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, and this controversial, cult sci-fi classic arrives onto Blu-ray with an excellent audio and video presentation and very badly lacking in any decent supplemental material, but despite this, I am so pleased to add this to my ever increasing Limited Edition SteelBook Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
It's like Orwell's 1984 on steroids - and more! The fantastic props and sets are utilised magnificently-well by skilled direction and attention to detail.
But, unlike many of today's films, it's not just about the special effects. The acting's also spot-on with many comic moments, including Robert De Niro's hilarious SAS-style air-conditioning engineer.