Posted by: ckckred | September 1, 2012

Brazil: The Strangest Movie I’ve Ever Seen

Very weird and confusing but enthralling

Editor’s Note: I wanted to cross off another film on my Movie Confession list.  This week I chose Brazil, one of the highest praised sci-fi films to come out within the last 30 years.

After watching Brazil I wasn’t really too sure what to think about the film.  While watching the movie I didn’t understand really anything that was happening.  I kind of knew the general plot line but had so many questions on the story, which didn’t make much sense.  Afterward I checked out the Wikipedia entry on it and managed to understand what the film was about.  My appreciation grew more after that but I still was kind of dumbfounded by the movie.

Brazil was done by Terry Gilliam, one of the members of Monty Python.  Much of the film does resemble the strangeness and bleakness of Monty Python, such as the dark humor, scathing satire, and imaginative sets (it also has another member of the Python gang, Michael Palin, in it).  But Brazil isn’t really a comedy but a drama.

But let me get on to the story.  Brazil takes place in a not-too-distant-future (though the title states that it is still in the 20th century) where the government keeps an iron grip on society and terrorists run loose, bombing restaurants and retail stores.  One day after a fly gets stuck in a typewriter (don’t ask), government officials accidentally confuse suspected terrorist Archibald Tuttle (Robert De Niro) with Archibald Buttle. After Buttle is killed and the mistake is shown, government official Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) tries to fix the mistake by handing out a check to Buttle’s wife.

Lowry often daydreams of himself as a knight saving a beautiful maiden.  But as it turns out the maiden is actually a real person, Jill Layton (Kim Griest), who witnesses the mistake and becomes in trouble as the government is worried she’ll spill the secrets.

If you managed to decipher my plot description, either you’ve seen the movie multiple times, read a plot summary, or somehow managed to understand the movie.  If you didn’t, truthfully I don’t fully understand it either.  The plot goes very quickly and is hard to follow.  Actually, it may be the most confusing film I’ve ever seen.

However, there are many great parts of Brazil I could praise.  Gilliam’s direction is fantastic and he certainly went all out on the special effects.  The sprawling urban buildings in the film reminded me of the towering skyscrapers from Metropolis.  They rival the state of the art effects used in Blade Runner two years earlier.  The production is simply one of the best I’ve ever seen.

It’s also clear of the Orwellian themes Gilliam had added in.  1984 has clearly been an influence on Brazil as it deals with the advancement of technology.  Gilliam adds irony and humor that seems similar to the approach of Stanley Kubrick.

But still it’s hard for me to love Brazil partly because it’s just so confusing.  Can I recommend the picture?  Absolutely, for its special effects, production, directing, magnificent score, and acting.  But the film is hurt by its storyline.  I may watch it again and might change my mind.  Though Brazil can be viewed a a breakthrough in film technology, it needs to work more on a general appeal.



  1. LOVE “Brazil” And Really Anything By Terry Gilliam!
    My Fave Faves Of His Are “The Adventures Of Barron Munchausen”…
    …And “Twelve Monkeys”…
    …But “Brazil” Is In The Top 5 Of Strange AND Unique.
    Great Review, As Always, Sir!

    • Thanks! I love 12 Monkeys as well!

  2. I was just discussing this one with a coworker and he dubbed it the film that gets more confusing the more you watch it. It’s also his favorite movie.

    • I’d like to see it again to see if I manage to understand it. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Great post, love this film as well as 12 monkeys.

    • Thanks! I do like 12 Monkeys as well.

      • Glad you agree, thanks for your recent comments on my music posts.

  4. […] can read my original view here, but I’ll echo some of my sentiments.  Brazil is a visually impressive film that gets lost […]

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