Movie Marathon #10: Brazil

by thethreepennyguignol

My earliest memory of Brazil-indeed, of any film, come to think of it-was growing up with a huge Brazil poster dangling above the stairs next to my room. I loved the wierd imagery; a great winged figure rising from a set of drawers in some existential office block, framed with the neon pink script declaring the movie’s title. It’s one of my dad’s favourite movies, and one that I received on the understanding I would watch it immediately the day I turned fifteen. It’s one of those wierd films that I was aware of in intimate detail before I’d even seen a snippet of it; so often a disappointment, but not in the case of this dystopian Gilliam masterpiece.

Brazil is one of the few films whose appeal I’ll admit is limited; it’s a deliberately wierd, passionately contrived, extremely dark sci-fi comedy set in an unnamed period of time that draws heavily from Orwell’s 1984 for themes and imagery. I know how awful that makes it sound, but none of that ever takes over Gilliam’s bonkers imagery and cunningly crafted story. Like Wes Anderson, I usually think Terry Gilliam’s makes interesting movies as opposed to perfect ones; somehow, he drew together the perfect cast-including an utterly fantastic Michael Palin as a professional torturer-and one of the most brilliantly depressing/life-affirming endings I’ve ever seen.

Much has to be said for the sheer creativity poured into Brazil; it would make no sense to spew it all up here, but when you do watch the film (and you will), the devil’s in the details. It’s like being squirted by a joke flower on the lapel of the Thought Police. I also developed a huge crush on Johnathan Pryce over the course of the film, portraying a beaten-down office drone who becomes a superhero in his dreams. Ridiculous? Almost as much as Jim Broadbent playing a questionable plastic surgeon. But fuck it: this is a film that defined my experience as an avid audience member because it was so unaplogetically ridiculous on every level. But that didn’t stop it being one of the most resonant, touching and consistently entertaining movies in existence. All hail Gilliam, except when he’s making yer Imaginarium shite.