In the future, a bureaucrat tries to correct an administrative error
and ends up becoming a fugitive from a totalitarian government.
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Written by Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, Charles McKeown
Starring Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Kim Greist,
Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm,
Peter Vaughan, Bob Hoskins, Ian Richardson,
Jim Broadbent, Charles McKeown
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Screenplay,
Best Art Direction
Brazil is a bleak dark comedy that can best be described as Monty Python's 1984. It's one of the more bizarre films I've watched in my time, but that's to be expected from director Terry Gilliam, who's well known for his weirdness. This film accomplished an interesting feat, which is that it made me laugh at things that I shouldn't be laughing at. For example, a big theme in this film is totalitarian rule, obviously taken from Orwell's work. Yet, in Brazil, the government is more incompetent than tyrannical and it's funny to watch them fumble around over a simple typing error that screws everything up for one lone bureaucrat.
Jonathan Pryce plays records worker Sam Lowry, in one of his earliest roles. Sam is your typical corporate scapegoat who's good at his job but has no real ambition. Pryce plays him perfectly, making him the one tether to realism in an otherwise dreamlike future world. After finding an error in the corporate system (which never happens), Sam starts down a winding path that leads to him becoming an enemy of the state. The supporting cast is fantastic, but I must point out British comedic actor Michael Palin, who plays his only villainous role. It's strange to see him play such a creepy character, but he pulls it off well.
The many dream sequences and the over-the-top craziness of Gilliam's Brazil help make this blatantly obvious Orwell rip-off something that can stand all on its own. It may not be the easiest film to follow at times, but it holds up because of its satirical jabs at the corporate world and anti-autocracy message that can still resonate today. If nothing else, it's worth watching for its great cast of character actors and strange but humorous visuals.