Famed Monty Python troupe member Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985) is a maelstrom of bureaucratic bungles, illustrated in his classic quirky style. Its synopsis is as follows:
Bureaucracy and ductwork run amok in the story of a paperwork mixup that leads to the imprisonment of Mr. Buttle, shoe repairman, instead of Harry Tuttle, illegal freelance Heating Engineer. Bureaucrat Sam Lowry (prone to escapes to a fantasy world) gets branded a terrorist and becomes hunted by the state himself in the process of correcting the mistake. (source)
Because I’m running out of time until it’s the end of the year and I really want to finish my Blindspot series before 2017 happens, here is a selection of my thoughts on Brazil.
- Having previously worked in a state government department, sadly, I could relate to this film quite a bit. The paperwork, the red tape. I genuinely have nightmares about it.
- And this nightmarish vision of a future society ruled by this kind of restrictive, counter-intuitive, counter-productive bureaucracy is a highly cynical one, but a very quirky and engaging one.
- Brazil includes performances by two notable Game of Thrones actors: Jonathan Pryce, a.k.a. the High Sparrow, as Sam Lowry; and Peter Vaughan, a.k.a. Maester Aemon, as Mr Helpmann.
- There’s a nice little role for Jim Broadbent as well, as a creepy plastic surgeon who partakes in one of the film’s most iconic images.
- Overall, there are a lot of great performances (Robert de Niro’s haphazard appearances included), and Jonathan Pryce leads the film with increasingly cartoonish gusto as he sheds the shackles of his previously office-bound life.
- The story plods along nicely at its own pace, however the film itself feels quite long for its comparatively simplistic plot.
- However, I didn’t really mind the film’s length, because throughout it we are treated to some of the most wonderfully strange direction, cinematography, and set design.
- The scale of the design of some of the sets was kind of mind-breaking. Combine this with Gilliam’s Monty Python-esque sense of humour and visual quirks, and you’ve got a film that you can’t tear your eyes away from, even at its more grotesque moments.
- I’m glad I watched this for my Blindspot series, because now I’ll finally be able to pick the references to it from other aspects of pop culture.
- For a story about a man who’s just trying to fix something but keeps making more and more trouble for himself along the way, Brazil is quite a surreal delight.
Watch the trailer here.