Inspired equally by Orwell’s 1984 and by the state of 1980s Britain, the shabby, dysfunctional world Gilliam depicted in Brazil looks uncomfortably familiar today.
With nods towards Kafka, Freud and Marx (Groucho, that is), Gilliam and his co-screenwriters Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown set their story in a society in which almost nothing works, a society in which a malevolent, incompetent, totalitarian bureaucracy has run completely out of control.
No wonder then that Robert De Niro’s outlaw heating engineer Tuttle is such a subversive in the eyes of the state. He gets things fixed.
De Niro isn’t the film’s hero, however. That’s Jonathan Pryce’s hapless clerk, Sam Lowry, the perfect citizen of this meek new world. Sam is content with his lot, successfully evading promotion and escaping monotony in dreams in which he is a winged knight soaring through the sky, beckoned by Kim Greist’s beautiful damsel. Until, that is, he spots his dream girl in waking life…
In reality, Greist’s Jill is a feisty, rebellious truck driver, but Sam’s efforts to hook up with her ensnare him in the labyrinthine coils of his bureaucratic world. Yet as Sam sinks deeper and deeper into paranoia and despair, Gilliam crams the screen with such a proliferation of bizarre and comic details that you’ll want to revisit this particular nightmare again and again.
Released on Blu-ray on Monday 5th December by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.