Monday, February 25, 2013

Brazil (1985) Review

Brazil 1985 poster
Director: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Johnathan Pryce, Robert De Niro
Genre: Science Fiction, Comedy

Terry Gilliam's (of Monty Python fame) imaginative and satirical dystopian science-fiction comedy loosely based on George Orwell's 1984.

The story follows Sam Lowry, a government employee, who secretly dreams of being so much more. When Sam meets the woman of his dreams (quite literally) his world, as the fresh prince would say, was flip-turned upside down. But if there's one thing a dystopic government hates it's love, happiness, and rebellion.

As I mentioned Brazil is a (very) loose adaptation of the novel 1984. Indeed, Brazil's original title during production was 1984 ½ (a nod not only to 1984 but to Fellini's  as well). However, though Gilliam has admitted the film's obvious inspirations from 1984, he also admitted to never having actually read the novel. Quite interesting. Thus, as expected, it is a very, very loose adaptation and can't really even truly be called an adaptation more than just being largely inspired by. 

Anyone familiar with Gilliam's style will expect the surrealist imagery and the ever-present black comedy. That's all here and it's done quite well. 

The dystopian world which is created here is done very well. Not only are all the sets impressive and aesthetically pleasing, but the films also manages to nail a particular style. It blends 1950s/60s fashion and style with a sort-of future steampunk look. A good example to better understand what I'm trying to describe would be computers which have typewriters as keyboards. It's a look often referred to as Retro-Futurism and Brazil is perhaps the finest visual example of Retro-Futurism, along with maybe the Fallout video game series. 

Brazil 1985 retrofuturism

The film backs quite a great cast. Johnathan Pryce has the lead role in what is perhaps his career-defining performance. Robert De Niro plays a great supporting character and does a great job as always (odd seeing De Niro in the middle of the bill, isn't it?). Bob Hoskins and Ian Holm do remarkable jobs as well, along with the vastly overlooked Kim Greist

The soundtrack is marvelous, of course of note is the song in which the film gets its name "Aquarela do Brasil" as performed by Geoff Muldaur, but the entire soundtrack and score are excellent throughout. 

Brazil 1985 baby face mask

All in all Brazil is a very good film and immensely enjoyable the whole way through. It's not an amazing film and it didn't blow me away or anything, but for what it is it's great fun. If you're looking to purchase Brazil I highly recommend the Criterion releases; I have the 3-disc set and it has tons of awesome special features. 

3.5/5 stars

Purchase Brazil on Amazon: Blu-Ray - DVD - Criterion Special Edition - Criterion 3-Disc Box Set

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