Tuesday, May 13, 2014


This afternoon* I started humming along to Aquarela do Brasil. It's a catchy upbeat song, but I only really hum it when I'm frustrated at work. I blame Terry Gilliam. Well blame's the wrong word. I'm a Terry Gilliam fan but one of his movies ruined me. When I say that Brazil by Terry Gilliam is one of my favorite movies, it should tell you something about me. At least if you've seen the film. I'm actually surprised that I haven't mentioned it here before. It's such an odd film.

Brazil is a dystopian satire starring Jonathan Pryce as a mild mannered businessman in a horrible bureaucracy that becomes obsessed with a woman from his dreams. He's investigating the death of a man at the government's hands after a technical mix-up when he runs into the exact woman. And suddenly he's involved with an air-conditioning terrorist, his dream woman, a sadistic friend who tortures people for a living, his plastic surgery obsessed mother, and a government that will control people however they can. Did I mention it's an odd film?

The movie was made in 1985 so don't go watching it expecting the visuals to be amazing. In fact some of the dream sequences make me cringe a little. But the world that Gilliam creates is what makes the film so incredible for me. The look of the stores and restaurants. The winding corridors of the bureaucracy where Pryce works. The tiny cars and the billboarded roads. It was the first time that I saw real true world-building. Gilliam creates a world that seems far fetched but it also seems real. And he uses that world to paint some interesting pictures of our world.

I've always loved dystopian stories. I think I'm drawn to the darkness of them and the dreams of escape that the story normally tells. The government in this film is not some faceless organization like in many other dystopians. In this one, we see inside since Pryce's character works for the bureaucracy. And that makes it all the more creepy. Michael Palin manages to make torture seem both horrific and all in a days work, something that still stays with me.

I mentioned it was dark right?

This is a thinking man's acid trip of a movie. Brazil is one of those movies you have to watch to understand. It's quirky, disturbing, and very silly. Just what you expect from Gilliam. And it's still one of my favorite movies.

*{by this afternoon I mean a week ago when I started this post}


Keith said...

I love Brazil with all my heart, and I can no longer bear to watch it. It's just too much to take.

Cat B said...

Too much in terms of bad effects, or too much in terms of darkness? I know the movie has its share of both.

Keith said...

Too much gut-wrenching emotion. It pushes a lot of my buttons, and I don't want those buttons pushed so hard anymore. As for the effects, I love them. They're of a time, and they're part of the whole package.

I have always loved the physical effects in Gilliam's movies. The flaming cowheads in Time Bandits, the Angel of Death in Baron Munchausen, the stage play in Dr. Parnassus. Fascinating and fun.