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Posted on 7/08/10 07:43 AM
It took me nearly a whole year to track down Terry Gilliam's maniacal take on 1984. Finally a week ago i found a copy at my local second hand dvd store, i was not the least bit disappointed after such a long wait. However it took me two views of this film to not only realise the the poignant satire but also the sheer brilliance that is Brazil (or 1984 and a half, which was one of the proposed names which makes a lot more sense at a title for this film then Brazil).
Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a typical low-level government employee who is looking for a way out. His mother (Katherine Helmond) is pressuring him to pursue bigger ambitions while his boss Kurtzman (Ian Holm) who relies on Lowry's smarts is very keen on retaining his services. Lowry however has other ideas, he is constantly dreaming of himself as a superhero who must save his one true love (Kim Greist) from her captors. After a printing incident causes and average father to be accused and jailed for being falsely identified as Henry Buttle (Robert DeNiro) a rogue electrician fighting against the establishment, Sams department have been given the blame for falsely jailing (and the the eventual death) of the innocent man. After this incident deepens and Lowry finally accepts a job promotion he is soon entangled in a dangerous quest for the love of is life.
I have to admit that the first time watched this film i didn't enjoy it at all, i didn't get what all the hype was and i was very disappointed after all the hype for this movie. However i recently decided to re-watch this movie with an open mind and boy did my view on this movie change. To start of with i wasn't expecting Brazil to be a comedy first time around so i wasn't interpreting any of the well scripted satire i also didn't really understand the concept until the second time round either. Watching it a second time i was thoroughly entertained and cracked up by what in my opinion is Gilliam's best work. The satire in this film can be so black at times, then out of n where the film will throw some slapstick comedy a you which really gives you a nice break from the bleak and often dark world of Brazil. It really succeeds at being a dark but satirical film that i would rank up with Dr Strangelove (which also took me another view for me to understood just how genius is). What makes Brazil so memorable and timeless is the very well done cg. Although it may be obviously from the 80's never did it look like a obvious green screen and i could never tell what was fake or real, there are countless scenes that i find impossible to know for certain how they were done they were done to realistically.
Jonathan Pryce is not only likeable but also portrays Sam Lowry in a very realistic if not cliche way, which i think is even more relatable nowadays then it was back in the 80's. Although Sam's dream girl was a fairly attractive Lady(at least when she had a full head of hair, short hair just isn't my thing) she felt a little wooden, lacking in depth and very inconsistent. She just really didn't have any motivations and she falls in love with a man who she had hated only a couple of hours before. All the other supporting actors were also really used but what steals the show is the style of Brazil. From the stretched out faces of a cosmetic procedure, the silo sized interrogation room (more like castle) and even Sam's very oppressive closet sized office. It all just wreaks of Terry Gilliam. So much imagination has been put into the design of this movie, it's been so lovingly made by Terry Gilliam that aesthetically it's one of the best films i've ever had the pleasure of seeing.
The look and feel of this story however unfortunately over shadows the plot which although not horrible is a little plain and sloppy. Again what brings this film to life is Terry Gilliam's quirky direction and dialogue (which has a Monty python wit associated to it). He can be very subtle when he wants to then he can just go bat-shit insane, to be fair however he is a Python boy so what else could you expect? Terry Gilliam's control over this movie is so evident that near the end of the film it becomes a little too over the top and crazy, it throws subtlety out the window and starts hammering its point to the audience it looses the subtle humour and goes with a disappointing attempt at a 'confrontation' which seems very out of character, However minor these criticisms may seem they really were the only deterrent from giving this movie a perfect score, which saddens me even saying it.
It goes with out saying that this basically is a parody of 1984 hence the fact that Terry Gilliam initially wanted to name the film 1984 and a half. When i say parody you really have to take that statement with a grain of salt, Brazil is a parody in the same sense that Shaun of the Dead is spoof film (it is but it isn't) i'm not referring to parody on the scary movie scale (flat out copy).Terry Gilliam never disrespects the novel and he keeps most of the messages that the book is trying to convey only with a more satirical approach, Brazil stays away from 1984 enough for it to become it's own stand alone film yet it still acknowledges it's inspiration and pays at lot of respect to it a the same time. Maybe parody isn't the right word honestly this movie is a recreation of Orwell's dark vision by an absolute nut job with a very neon colour palette.
The best way to describe this film is 'inspired craziness', Terry Gilliam found a film subject that he had upmost respect for an loved and totally twisted it into this insane and satirical Orwell love letter. Just imagine if this film hadn't been filmed by Gilliam! To be fair it would just be 1984 i guess. To sum up this film really has the visual sense and storytelling to be a classic but the characters are a little too forgettable and the plot goes from very dull to mindbogglingly impossible. I guess that the word impossible isn't part of Gilliam's vocabulary and i for one hope that never changes.