“Brazil” Soars With Dreams and Ducts
Mar 2, 2004
a Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Everything, including directing, writing, acting, production design
Cons:One weak performance by Kim Griest
The Bottom Line: "Brazil"'s humor makes it fun enough to watch many times, but strong and powerful enough to keep you thinking about it for a long time.
A statue adorns the lobby of the Department of Records, which depicts a winged man flying above dead and defeated bodies. A plaque that reads, "The Truth Shall Set You Free," accompanies the statue. A phrase that seems almost hypocritical for the world of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil," which takes place in a totalitarian bureaucracy, where the truth does anything but set you free. Though similar to Orwell's "1984", "Brazil" takes place in a world where nothing is ever fixed, mounds of paperwork are involved in every decision, and promises of a new and better life are constantly made but nothing is ever developed. And no one seems to mind, until the system comes after you, which is the case with Sam Lowry (Jonathan Price).
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Sam is a single letter in the massive stacks of paper of "Brazil", and drudges through his small, insignificant life as a desk clerk, only escaping his world through his dreams. After a small typo leads to the capture of an innocent man, Sam has to deliver a "refund check" to the victim's grieving family. While being confronted by the victim's wife, Sam ends up running into his "dream girl" Jill (Kim Greist) and sets off to find her, while being exposed to the horrors that surround every day.
Gilliam's focus in "Brazil" is not an anti-government film, as it might appear. "Brazil" is about the power of dreams, and the ability to escape hardships by looking into ourselves. Being part two of Gilliam's "Dream Trilogy" ("Time Bandits", "Brazil", and "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen"), Gilliam does spend most of the movie expressing this theme, but also offers views on the one-sidedness of the so-called "bad guys." One scene in the film has the governmental police forces playing volleyball, discussing rashes their outfits cause, and even dying in front of Sam's eyes. He gives life to these characters, which have always been depicted as faceless, mindless and evil creatures. With his influence from Monty Python, Gilliam still offers lots of humor and satire in "Brazil." For instance, Sam's controlling mother, who spends most of her time getting plastic surgery to appear even younger than her son, or Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro) who is a rouge electrician and wanted by the police for helping fix apartment air-conditioners. Not only does Gilliam fill "Brazil" with comedy and meaning, but with sets and colors that dazzle and excite the imagination. The main set pieces of every location are these ducts that Gilliam uses to show peoples attachment to the government. Every set is crammed with these ducts, along with tons of blues, purples, and grays that help express the terror of "Brazil" but still maintain its humor. And with a surprise ending that leaves one speechless even after numerous viewings, "Brazil" is a satirical drama that tells us that happiness is in each and every one of us.
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