Terry Gilliam’s Brazil is one of the greatest films that almost wasn’t. It’s a wild dystopian fantasy about a man named Sam Lowry (played by Jonathan Pryce), caught in an oppressive, dysfunctional, yet aggressively apathetic future bureaucracy. But he dreams about battling monsters to rescue a beautiful woman who calls to him, and when he thinks he’s found her in the real world, it changes his life. His story has one of the most memorable endings in cinema history. And Gilliam had to fight tooth and nail for that ending, and for the visualizations of Sam’s escapist fantasies, and for his characterization of Sam, whom Universal’s president wanted to soften. Gilliam and his producer, Arnon Milchan, fought a very public and personal war against the studio to release the film they wanted to release, and they eventually won—sort of.
There’s a lot to talk about with Brazil: Gilliam’s war against Universal, and the various cuts of the film that emerged; Gilliam’s obsession with expressing the future as part of the past; the way the film undermines other escapist fantasies while embracing its own; and certainly that indelible ending. So we hope you’ll join us in watching and discussing the movie next week. Once again, we’ll start with a Keynote essay on Monday and continue with staff Forum on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, Keith Phipps will look into how Brazil anticipates the government and culture of our era. Don’t miss this one: It’s a stunning film, visually, conceptually, and particularly emotionally.
And join us for more Movies Of The Week to come:
August 12: Days Of Heaven
August 19: Targets
August 26: Shadow Of A Doubt