the cover of the movie Brazil

3 Things About the Movie Brazil (1985, Terry Gilliam)

by | Movie Reviews, The Film Reel | 3 comments

You should watch the movie Brazil. Today, in fact, if you have the time. Why? Let me make the case. Three things about Brazil. 

1. Brazil is bizarre. 

It’s been called Kafka-esque and absurdist, and that should say it all. So, if you’re not a fan of weird, surreal, bizarre cinematic experiences, maybe stay away. But maybe give it a shot. You might find it a valuable experience. You’ll get the chance to enjoy dream sequences featuring this flying man…

flying man from the movie Brazil

… and horrifying torture scenes with a man wearing this mask…

… and we can’t leave out the plastic surgery masterpiece of the century, of course.

Brazil is undoubtedly a movie of the bizarre. But we live in some bizarre days, and I think that in this day and age we can draw some inspiration from Gilliam… and Kafka. Besides, even if you’re not usually a fan of the absurd, you might feel weird enough in this time to give it a shot. The movie Brazil is a great place to start.

2. Brazil is a dystopian film.

And dystopian films have been all the rage as of late. This one is less in the sleek, polished style of today’s dystopian films (The Hunger Games; Divergent) and more in the (arguably better) style of the older dystopian films. Think Running Man (which, by the way, I firmly hold The Hunger Games ripped off). Oh, and 12 Monkeys, a personal favorite. It’s significantly more mind-bending than dystopian films have been as of late, though the mind-bending-ness of Brazil is more of a soft mind-bending-ness than the previously mentioned 12 Monkeys. There’s no real twist in Brazil. There are a lot of turns, though.

Brazil draws one obvious comparison: to 1984, Orwell’s famous novel. I believe there’s a movie of it, too, though I haven’t seen it. Both feature a torrid, “fated” love affair set against a dystopian backdrop in which the lovers end up separated and, not to spoil too much, imprisoned. I already said there was a torture scene, and torture doesn’t happen just anywhere! Brazil is definitely the more bizarre cousin of 1984, which is a serious work. Cynic as I am, I may prefer the presentation of something that doesn’t take itself too seriously and embraces the absurd we find all around us.

The ending of Brazil leaves everything pretty much up in the air. Was it all one long, drawn-out nightmare? Has the poor Sam Lowry been convinced that it was all a nightmare? Did the girl of his dreams ever exist? Most great works stay open-ended. And here, thankfully, a number of questions remain unanswered. 

3. Brazil is about today. Or is it?

The movie Brazil could be about today. It’s about bureaucracy and conformity. And, unfortunately, our society is pushing towards new levels of conformity in today’s day and age — a strange type of liberal conformity.

The essence of most dystopias, which also happens to be the essence of much political rhetoric of today, is that people should not think differently. They should all think the same. In fact, maybe it’s better if they don’t think at all and let the powers that be figure out what is and what isn’t, what’s wrong and what’s right. Yes, I believe we’re falling into this pit. Will we claw our way out? It remains to be seen.

Here are some guys in suits from Brazil, including the protagonist Sam Lowry.  

Sam Lowry and other men in suits in the movie Brazil

In conclusion

I hope I’ve convinced you to give this movie a shot. You can hop on over to Amazon to watch it now, or later! (This is an affiliate link, so I get a small referral bonus at no extra cost to you if you choose to rent or purchase the movie.) At any rate, it’s a movie I recommend both for our times and for entertainment value. 

And if you choose to watch it, give me a yell in the comments and let me know what you think!

If you enjoyed this movie review, check out my article on 12 Monkeys and the coronavirus crisis. You might also like my review of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale (and its sequel, The Testaments).  

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