Movie review: Brazil

I remember seeing Brazil when it first came out in 1986. It was one of those relatively rare times when I actually went to a theatre to see a first run movie. Being a long time Monty Python fan, I was entertained on many levels by Brazil, from intellectual stimulation, to marveling at the cinematography, to the comical story line. There is something for everyone in the movie Brazil, and every time I re-watch it, I get a few new bits from the film.

I have had a DVD rip for a while, but I wanted to get a good copy. On a lark I splurged on Amazon and got the “Criterion” collection. The print is luscious, and the restoration that they did to remove the film to digital noticeably improves the experience of the film.

Set in the future, the world has become entrenched in bureaucracy, and novelty computers (tiny CRT’s behind large fresnel lenses). The story is one of love, deception, and bucking authority. Notable are the dream sequences, that add to the mystique of the film.

Jonathan Pryce, playing the lead character of Sam, does a phenomenal job as the dream weaver. Also notable is an appearance by Robert De Niro as Archibald Tuttle, a freelance heating and cooling engineer who is operating outside the auspices of the dreaded “Central Services”. A clerical error puts Sam on a collision course with the girl of his dreams, Jill Layton (played by Kim Griest).

Michael Palin in a mask
Michael Palin in a mask

2 hours and 24 minutes long, it is a film that will certainly entertain those who “get” Monty Python humor, and who have read Orwell and Huxley.

The second disc of the Criterion edition has the “Happy Ending” version with the edits that director Terry Gillian refused to make.  94 minutes long, I thought that they couldn’t possible destroy the story line. How wrong I was. I am watching it now, and they completely destroyed the story line, and the whole essence of the film. This version was only shown on syndicated TV, and it is a pale comparison to the original print.

I bought the discs from Amazon, and as is my custom, I read some of the reviews. I didn’t expect to be swayed one way or the other, but reading the 1 star reviews was entertaining. Clearly, some people don’t get Python humor, and didn’t appreciate the film. But I was astounded by the number (29 total out of hundreds of reviews) who felt the need to do an in depth dissertation of how they didn’t get the film, and how they thought that all the positive reviews were off the mark. They probably aren’t going to like 12 Monkeys either.

Please, it is a movie that was release more than a quarter century ago, and if you don’t appreciate it, don’t watch it.

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend getting it on your Netflix list.

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