If the lines at the DMV bother you, the extremist bureaucracy presented in Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece film BRAZIL will probably haunt you with the stink of office buildings and manifest phantom papercuts in the webs of your fingers for months.BRAZIL follows the misadventures of an insignificant worker-bee of a man named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) as he maneuvers the labyrinths of his futuristic society of paper-pushers. He’s content with his morose profession until he discovers that a mistake in a piece of paperwork has cost a man his life… a mistake that slowly snowballs until Lowry’s own existence is turned completely upside down. It all starts with the dreams. In them, Sam Lowry is a knight with armor and angel wings, a shiny flying warrior. In his dreams, Lowry is free from his monochromatic dystopia… a landscape of rising skyscrapers and stuffy office buildings that won the film at least four awards and nominated it for an Oscar in the Best Art Direction category.
It is here where Lowry finds his dream girl, so to speak. When he sees the flesh-and-blood version of the woman from his dreams on the streets of his grey city, Lowry begins to desperately search for her, losing a bit of his mind in the process.Throughout the film, Lowry is bombarded by interactions with individuals too wacky for the real world; his facelift-addicted mother, a torture specialist on the government payroll, a rogue heating engineer labeled as a terrorist, and (as mentioned before) a woman he’d previously thought to live only in his imagination. In his search for Jill (dream girl) he goes through all the wrong hoops, damning himself to suffer the fate of so many before him-eradication at the hands of the fools in charge.Terry Gilliam has been honing his strange brand of twisted art for years with the British sketch comedy group Monty Python (he’s responsible for all the strange animated segments), and he’s created several groundbreaking films the likes of which had never been seen before, but this film has been critically acclaimed as his very best. The world he created is nothing short of prophetic and the parallels between BRAZIL and today’s America are stunningly accurate; a blasé indifference to everyday acts of terrorism, blind following of ridiculous bureaucracy, and a system of government that could kill you (or label you a terrorist) if your name accidentally ends up on certain documents. This movie has not only survived for twenty-three years, it has thrived. A note of interest: if you find the film on video, do not watch the Sheinberg Edit (also called “Love Conquers All”) in which Lowry and Jill finally fall in love and live happily ever after. If you wish to view the film in its depressing glory, you should hunt down the Criterion Collection box set from 2006. The ending is one of the most intense things you will ever see in a film. Ever.