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Arguably the single greatest LaserDisc edition ever released gets new life in high-definition....
Criterion / 144 Minutes / 1985 / Rated R / Street Date: December 4, 2012
Terry Gilliam is arguably the most visionary director of our generation. There is a look and feel to each and every one of his films that is distinctly his. However, such vision is not without its price. Gilliam has fought with the studios over nearly every one of his films: fought for money, fought for final cut, fought for his vision. It is somehow fitting, then, that his hardest-fought movie, Brazil, would also be one of his best - and perhaps the most appropriate.
Sam Lowery (Jonathan Pryce) is one worker of many, slaving away day in and day out deep in the heart of The Ministry of Information, content to stay where he is despite the best efforts of his meddling mother (Katherine Helmond). When not doing mundane paperwork, Sam passes his time fantasizing of a different world, one where he flies above the overly industrialized city which holds him captive, one in which he finds his dream girl. Eventually, Sam's complacency is shattered both when he meets her in the flesh (Kim Griest) and has his plumbing fixed by a rebel engineer named Harry Tuttle (Robert DeNiro). Sam must now face reality; unable to be wholly satisfied with dreams, he must battle against the very bureaucracy he has spent most of his life perpetuating.
Gilliam's Brazil is both a biting satire and a bittersweet autobiography. The film's story rivals Gilliam's own struggles with studio executives and represents perhaps the largest sacrifice any director has made for his art. Pryce is perfectly cast as the wonderfully idyllic and naively misguided Lowery, whose efforts to beat the system are simultaneously funny and painful. He manages continuously to strike the right chord in a fairly complex and difficult role, certainly with the help of the fine cast Gilliam has assembled around him. DeNiro is a scene-stealer as the renegade engineer, and Michael Palin is at his Pythonesque best as a whimsical inquisitor who tortures people for information.
Perhaps the film’s biggest star is the surreal world Gilliam has crafted around his characters, a world so complete in its detail that it calls to mind earlier, similarly richly sited films like Metropolis and Blade Runner. Life is portrayed down to the tiniest element, and Gilliam has done a glorious job of bringing his world to the screen. The cinematography beautifully captures both the dreary, color-drained reality and the vibrant, breathtaking vistas of Lowery's wildest fantasies with equal precision. Despite the film's age, many of its images are still breathtaking and are sure to capture the imagination.