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DVD Shopping Bag: Brazil Criterion Collection Blu-ray

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DVD Shopping Bag: Brazil Criterion Collection Blu-ray

Our twisted future circa 1985

By Robert T. Trate     December 11, 2012
Source: Mania.com

Be honest for this next question: How many of you Maniacs have made it all the way through Brazil? No, not the country, but Terry Gilliam’s mind numbing look at the future. I’ll be honest and tell you I watched it once only to fall asleep. I’ve seen tons of clips on retrospectives about Gilliam, his unique eye, and Robert De Niro’s performance in the film. A couple of years ago I even considered buying it on it on Blu-ray. I loved Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys and thought I would take this one on chance. The three disc set was a bit daunting and steep in price, too. I forgot about it until recently. 

Lo and behold, Criterion Collection released their edition (Spine # 51) for the first time on Blu-ray last week. Now, I am not one to simply scoff at a Criterion release. I knew that this would be the definitive edition. I also knew it would have all the bells and whistles, too. What I didn’t expect was the profound effect this odd film from 1985 would have on me. 

The story of Brazil takes place in a dystopian future where a bean counter/ daydreamer literally finds the girl of dreams. Our hero, Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), is constantly ducking a promotion as he does his boss’s job. Sam is content where his life is and daydreams of being a futuristic flying knight who is constantly rescuing the damsel in distress (Kim Greist). Sam’s world is turned upside down when a clerical error is brought to his attention and Sam tries to set it right. It is there, in his meager crusade, that Sam finds his damsel in distress in the real world, Jill (Griest). Sam knows that if he can solve the problems created by the government for the Buttle family, he’ll find Jill. 

It sounds fairly straight forward, but it isn’t. This is, after all, a Terry Gilliam picture. The man who brought us the time traveling head scratchers 12 Monkeys and Time Bandits. Though Brazil has nothing to do with traveling, you’re still ever aware of how much time has passed and the story hasn’t really progressed, for it meanders with Sam’s mommy issues and a problem with his air conditioning. He also befriends a wanted air conditioning repairman (Robert De Niro) and has battles with the Ministry of Information Retrieval. The bombardment of unique visuals also drag out the narrative despite placing the film in a class of its own. If you have never seen Brazil, look somewhere between Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element and you’ll find it. 

What truly amazed me was how much of Brazil is the real world of today. Gilliam’s vision of the future clearly takes cues from Orwell’s “1984”. Our hero is a simple man who is content with his daydreams and lives a good simple life helping where he can. However, when love is introduced,  the sudden spark to be something more awakens in him. Jonathan Pryce was perfectly cast in this role. He isn’t your typical hero, which might have been what kept the film from connecting with the general audience. No one wants to see themselves as Jonathan Pryce, despite actually looking like him. 

His world is one of rules and regulations. It is a world where everything is connected and no one bothers to ask why. Easily, this is the world right outside our window. Why do I need this? Why must I buy this? Well, because you need it so now you have to buy it. Can’t I fix it myself? No, you need proper authorization and the right form, etc. Gilliam’s future scared me more than Orwell’s because it reminded me how dull we’ve all become and that maybe there isn’t really any hope left.

SPOILERS

This brings up the “Love Conquers All” edition of Brazil with the happy ending. When I was done watching the restored 142-minute version, I was hoping for a happy ending. Sam took the chance and went after the girl. When it looked as if everything was going to work out, the nightmare really kicked it. I won’t go into it anymore, but wow. The visuals were amazing, but it sucked the life from the film. What was Gilliam trying to tell us? That hope is frivolous thing? That it’s better to dream than live? That only those with power and money can actually live the dream? Despite all this, Brazil is a trip worth taking.
 

 

ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS

The Bourne Legacy (Two-Disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) Starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton and Joan Allen

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The Wild Geese (Blu-ray DVD Combo) Starring Richard Burton, Roger Moore and Richard Harris

Wild West Outlaws Starring Lee Van Cleef, Jack Palance, Marlon Brando and Roy Rogers

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Gangsters Guns & Zombies Starring Vincent Jerome, Huggy Leaver and Fabrizio Santino

Death Valley [Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Paul Le Mat, Catherine Hicks, Stephen McHattie

Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys Starring Melissa Behr and R.C. Bates Tim Thomerson

The Island [Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Michael Caine, David Warner and Angela Punch McGregor

House of Terror Starring Jennifer Bishop, Jacquelyn Hyde and Arell Blanton

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Trancers 3: Deth Lives! Starring Helen Hunt, Melanie Smith, Andrew Robinson, Megan Ward Tim Thomerson

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TV LAND

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Chiller - The Complete Television Series Starring Nigel Havers, Martin Clunes, Sophie Ward and Kevin McNally

Girls: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) Starring Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Adam Driver and Jemima Kirke

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Gunsmoke: The Seventh Season, Vol. 1 Starring Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver, James Arness and Ken Curtis

Is This A Zombie? Season One (Limited Edition) Starring Austin Tindle

Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Year Nine Starring Jeff Goldblum

Superboy: The Complete Second Season Starring Gerard Christopher, Stacy Haiduk and Ilan Mitchell-Smith

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Ultra Seven: The Complete Series Starring Shoji Nakayama and Koji Moritsugu

BOX SETS

JAG: The Complete Series - Collector's Edition Starring Scott Lawrence, John M. Jackson, David James Elliott

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COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 4 of 4
1 
karas1 12/11/2012 7:29:33 AM

I saw Brazil back in college (long, long ago when time was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth).  I had no trouble staying awake, I was entranced.  The terrible distopia of a society where regulations are everything and hiring a non union air conditioner repairman was punishable by prison or death didn't seem so crazy, even back then.

Gilliam's movies are hit or miss for me.  I couldn't stand Time Bandits but 12 Monkeys is brilliant.

 

SPOILER

I thought the end of the movie was appropriate.  A happy ending wouldn't have seemed realistic in a place where the system is so massive that it can't be fought.

Roqueja 12/11/2012 8:25:12 AM

No picks this week Rob?

Gilliam movies are great for discussions after watching, as many scenes stand out as memorable.  I even liked Time Bandits, although it took forever to find for purchase.  I would like to see the Love Conquers All ending as well, once for comparison.

redhairs99 12/11/2012 9:08:09 AM

Time Bandits is one of my all-time favorites!  Maybe it's just the nostalgia from watching it in my younger years, but I still love it to this day and find myself quoting it all the time.

Always liked Brazil, I have the 3 disc Criterion Set on DVD.  I doubt I'll be upgrading though.  That set was pricey enough.  And sometimes, I don't think the upgrade to blu is all that worth while.  Sometimes, the grit and grime are what makes a movie like Brazil so special.

Glad Ted is finally out.  That was truly the funniest comedy of the year.  Even bought the little stuff-ed animal talking Ted from Best Buy this morning. 

HarryTuttle 12/13/2012 7:25:33 AM

 Well, my avatar is a clue to how I feel about this movie. The Criterion collection version is a must have for me, and this film will always be in my Top 5, just amazing. 

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