This week Zach learns about Terry Gilliam and his 1985 classic, Brazil.


BRAZIL (1985)

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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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

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1 Comment

  1. drago
    December 19, 2014 at 12:41 pm — Reply

    Gilliam is often accused of being hard to follow. Couple that with that “Gilliam feel” (do you think Del Torro has a visual look that extends from the Gilliam visual tree? Seems that way to me) you guys mentioned and it creates something my brain just smiles at. I love Brazil, I love most Gilliam films mainly because I’m never quite certain what I’ve just seen and I sit around for days just thinking about them. The steampunk comments were intriguing, the film is often credited with starting that movement (although it probably just popularized it).

    If you’re a fan of his and haven’t seen “Lost in La Mancha” yet, see it. It shows what he goes through to try to get a film made. For instance I loved Baron Manchausen but to Gilliam it’s become a curse because since then he had all sorts of problems getting studios to fund his films. Kills me to think he wanted to make Watchmen and tried twice to do so but couldn’t secure funding. A filmmaker of his vision with a comic of that vision… it could have been soooooooo good.

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