This week Zach learns about Terry Gilliam and his 1985 classic, Brazil.
Brazil is a 1985 British film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. British National Cinema by Sarah Street describes the film as a “fantasy/satire on bureaucratic society” while John Scalzi’s Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies describes it as a “dystopian satire”. The film stars Jonathan Pryce and features Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm.
The film centres on Sam Lowry, a man trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living a life in a small apartment, set in a consumer-driven dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines. Brazil ’s bureaucratic, totalitarian government is reminiscent of the government depicted in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, except that it has a buffoonish, slapstick quality and lacks a Big Brother figure.
Jack Mathews, film critic and author of The Battle of Brazil (1987), described the film as “satirizing the bureaucratic, largely dysfunctional industrial world that had been driving Gilliam crazy all his life”. Though a success in Europe, the film was unsuccessful in its initial North America release. It has since become a cult film.
The film is named after the recurrent theme song, “Aquarela do Brasil”, as performed by Geoff Muldaur.
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