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As anyone who has a sizable collection of television series on disk can attest, there’s inevitably far more chaff then wheat. Many my friends and fortunate that studios is provided with preview discs that is undoubtedly swollen my personal collection considerably. But I do try to impress upon them is I do hate writing these considerations seriously and attempted every right to put the same degree of attention to each review. This can be especially difficult for those movies that are far less than well-made. Recently I have been on a streak of excellent views sent to me to review, that at all uncommon after the early part of the year that is dedicated to award ceremonies. Before delving back into more typically eclectic assortment of films I felt it would be suitable as to revisit one of the enjoyable and exemplary examples of cinema as a means of artistic expression, ‘Brazil’. This 1985 British made film was directed and co-written by Terry Gilliam. For fans of the iconic English sketch comedy troupe, ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus’. His name is undoubtedly recognizable as seeing in the rolling credits all of their endeavors. However, some of the most ardent fans may be less familiar with his face than those belonging to John Cleese, Michael Palin, and Eric idle in the late Graham Chapman. He may not have been utilized the net many hilarious and enduring skits but he was responsible for one of the most recognizable things about Monty Python, distinctive and surrealistic animation. There is actually no doubt that his mastery of imagery and how it can be used to incite hilarity as well as encourage the audience to give more than the usual thought to what they have just seen. Because of this wonderful confluence of factors of his visual stylings when Mr. Gilliam began to focus on filmmaking the results are incredible; and amazing synergy of dark humor, social commentary and examination of what makes us human.

Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a man with a bleak existence; a government employee as a cog in in its vast machinery occupies the place is the most insignificant cog incessantly turning in the most innocuous and forgotten section of the machine. Little of any significance to occupy his time Sam finds himself frequently daydreaming creating his own committee -like existence in his imagination. Then he is free from his mindless duties permitting him to heroically save the damsel in distress. Sam is given an assignment that his sphere of existence holds some degree of importance. Somehow a fly had gotten into a printer causing it to jam. While this may seem extremely trivial the repercussions would disturbing in their scope. Paperwork intended as an arrest warrant was suspected terrorist, Archibald Tuttle, was misprinted as Archibald Buttle, a peaceful and innocuous cobbler by trade. His humble home was invaded by government shock troops, apprehended, incarcerated and wrongly executed.

As part of Sam’s investigation he visits the home of the lamentably innocent victim where he meets, Jill Layton (Kim Greist), and upstairs neighbor of Archibald. To his shock Sam discovers that this young woman looks exactly like the one he rescues in his daydreams. When it comes time to actually speak to the widow Sam realizes that he can no longer deal with such mindless potentially harmful bureaucracy. Coincidentally, fallout from the mistake has now branded Mrs. Buttle (Sheila Reid) is now considered by the State having terrorist associations. As events typically transpire when government is left when an oligarchy, elimination and cover-up is far easier and therefore preferable to correcting and there were no matter how grievous it might be. Sam takes it upon himself to track down the true terrorist, the real Tuttle (Robert De Niro). At one point in his life, Tuttle worked for Central Services as an air conditioner repair man. They wanted back he had left his position because he was fed up with the tedium and mountain of incessant paperwork. Sort of apprehension evaporated from Sam’s mind as Tuttle offers to help Sam theoretical pair of hard-core government workers, Spoor (Bob Hoskins) and Dowser (Derrick O'Connor). Under the cover of air conditioning repair the gain entry through air ducts and demolish Sam’s humble apartment.

With such disruption in shrouding Sam his mind seizes on the one right suspected his life, the woman from his daydreams as represented by Jill. In order to discover anything about the young woman Sam will have to arrange a transfer to the Information Retrieval Department. A previous attempt at such a reassignment was blocked by Sam’s own mother; Ida (Katherine Helmond), a vain woman overly concerned with how rapidly faded youth. The latest attempt that the nation’s extreme plastic surgery techniques as administered by Dr. Jaffe (Jim Broadbent). The visuals surrounding this procedure which involves stretching and distorting the face of Ms. Helmond grotesquely has become one of the most iconic images associated with this film.

Many fans that endeavor to analyze the works of Terry Gilliam recognize that a portion of his expansive oeuvre can be associated with two distinct trilogies. The one that is pertinent to this consideration has been called the ‘trilogy of the imagination’. It examines the importance of imagination during three stages of a person’s life; youth, maturity and old-age. The films I consider each of these segments of our lives are respectively, ‘Time Bandits (1981)’, ‘Brazil (1989)’ and ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)). This movie also served as the starting point when Mr. Gilliam’s second trilogy, ‘the dystopian trilogy’. To complete this set of three films, ‘Brazil’, would be followed by ‘12 Monkeys (1995) and Concluding Recently with the 2013 Release of ‘The Zero Theorem’. ‘Brazil’ has joined several other films in this incredible body of work by its induction into the much lauded Criterion Collection. For several decades now films marketed under this banner have been considered among the best that cinema has to offer. These movies are representative of the imagination, dedication and innovation by some of the best directors that have ever shouted the word "Action!’. Movies released as part of this collection of remastered as closely to the original technical specifications as possible availing the audience with a means to experience the film rated the filmmaker envisioned. There is also a large selection of extra material. Unlike some mainstream releases these bonuses are not the inconsequential reels alternate scenes typically derived from sweepings from the editing base floor. The additional material and quite releases such as this are commentary tracks by the people closest to the movie’s creation and execution as well as consideration by individuals for the scholarly vantage point of cinema.

Although not considered a Monty Python project per se, many elements of the dark humor and political satire or present. The bizarre exaggerations of Gilliam’s animations that have become synonymous with the comedy troupe are vividly brought to life in his films. The complexity and depth of detail in Gilliam’s visual styling is such that the movie will require repeated viewings to fully grasp the intention of the filmmaker. This is not to imply that the themes are so obtuse that you must watch the film over and over again just to get a glimmer of the story. Quite the contrary, the main themes are quite obvious but in order to grasp the many subtle nuances woven into the story a viewer must experience it several times. A true testament towards greatness is that with each viewing you’ll glean additional elements and will be better able to appreciate just how to talk to satiric barbs are in this movie. Although part of two of Gilliam trilogies the film stands remarkably well on its own. Still, the intensity of the talent and visionary mind Mr. Gilliam certainly leave you anxious to explore the rest of the movies he has made.

bulletWhat Is Brazil?: Rob Hedden's On-Set Documentary
bulletProduction Notebook
bulletCollection Of Interviews And Video Essays
bulletThe Battle Of Brazil: Documentary About The Film's Contentious Release
bulletBooklet Featuring An Essay By Film Critic David Sterritt

Posted 04/16/2015

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