If Franz Kafka had been an animator and film director--oh, and a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus--this is the sort of outrageously dystopian satire one could easily imagine him making. However, Brazil was made by Te... more »rry Gilliam, who is all of the above except, of course, Franz Kafka. Be that as it may, Gilliam sure captures the paranoid-subversive spirit of Kafka's The Trial (along with his own Python animation) in this bureaucratic nightmare-comedy about a meek governmental clerk named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) whose life is destroyed by a simple bug. Not a software bug, a real bug (no doubt related to Kafka's famous Metamorphosis insect) that gets smooshed in a printer and causes a typographical error unjustly identifying an innocent citizen, one Mr. Buttle, as suspected terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro). When Sam becomes enmeshed in unraveling this bureaucratic glitch, he himself winds up labeled as a miscreant. The movie presents such an unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of 20th-century bureaucracy that it almost became a victim of small-minded studio management itself--until Gilliam surreptitiously screened his cut for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who named it the best movie of 1985 and virtually embarrassed Universal into releasing it. This DVD version of Brazil is the special director's cut that first appeared in Criterion's comprehensive (and expensive) six-disc laser package in 1996. Although the DVD (at a fraction of the price) doesn't include that set's many extras, it's still a bargain. --Jim Emerson« less
Daniel A. (Daniel) from EUGENE, OR Reviewed on 2/8/2010...
Bizarre. Amesome original dystopic vision. Very cluttered, but intentional clutter. The end is messy and complicated, but redeemed in the final shot.
Yes, but what about this Criterion box set itself?
Daniel L Edelen | Mt. Orab, OH USA | 01/07/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"There are a million different takes on the actual movie "Brazil," but what I hope to do in this review is actually rate the collection put together by Criterion.The 3-DVD box set of "Brazil" starts off with the "final final" director's cut of the film, topping out at 142 minutes. (There are eight minutes of footage added to this release.) The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 dimensions. Fact is, the transfer of the movie is so-so.For all the Criterion hoopla, the print here is flawed. The notes pay tribute to a few digital scratch removers, but I was truly surprised by the amount of garbage in the print (dirt, empty spots, and such) that litter the frames. One of Sam's initial dream flights has considerable gunk inhabiting the lower left corner, and any frame by frame analysis will reveal an endless parade of bits of stuff inhabiting every shot. To be honest, I expected a lot more here and if there is any criticism of this collection, it lies with this fault primarily. They could have cleaned everything up considerably more than they did. And that's a shame at this price.Colors and contrast in the print look good, though, and the sound is fabulous. They pulled out a full stereo soundtrack and made it sing, so kudos there, too. The sound is clean and vibrant.The booklet detailing the film is good, but not the best I've seen, even for a lesser boxset. The content listings for the other two DVDs are little more than a single overview sheets.Director Terry Gilliam's commentary track on the first disc is priceless and fascinating, almost worthy of the cost for the set alone. As a film geek, I personally find all director commentaries to be interesting, so I may not be the best judge. In this case, though, Gilliam gives us a rich look at the film that stands up to the best of other directors's commentaries I've heard.Criterion's skimping on the booklets is made up for in the second disc, which contains all the background of the film. "The Battle of Brazil" is the high point as Gilliam and some of the Universal Studios execs discuss the crazy backstory that almost led to the demise of the film as we know it. The film's handlers and financiers all fretted that they had an arthouse piece that would go nowhere, but Gilliam refused to make the desired cuts or to swerve from the darkness of the ending. It wasn't until he managed to sneak a final edit of the movie to the Los Angeles Film Critics organization that he was able to outduel the execs. When the critics lauded the film and lavished their prizes on it, the naysayer's bluff was called and the film was released, albeit to only modest box-office that barely made back its money. Film critic Jack Matthews hosts this slightly more than an hour examination of the battle between the creative forces and the forces of pragmatism.The second DVD also includes "What is Brazil?" - a mostly throwaway behind the scenes look at the making of the film that features the cast and some of the writers. I didn't find it particularly illuminating.The big disappointment in the second DVD is that many of the production notes covering the design, special effects, score, and more are not filmed, but simply text. I wanted more than that. Somewhat disappointing. There are some good insights into the flying effects in the dream sequences, though. That much of it was model work is simply amazing.The last DVD features the bowdlerized, 94 minute TV syndication release of the film dubbed "Love Conquers All." This happy ending version was done apart from Gilliam and probably represents what the studio heads had hoped would be the released version. "Execrable" is too kind a word to use to describe this version. Critic David Morgan's commentary notes all that was left out, and a few scenes that were added back in. While this version isn't worth your time, it is worthy of inclusion in the set, fleshing out the madness that almost killed the movie entirely.I have always considered "Brazil" to be genius, frankly. As a dystopia, the world it portrays out-Orwells them all. If you hate bureaucracy--and who but bureaucrats doesn't--then this is the film for you. And only Gilliam would be daring enough to make a renegade HVAC repairman a mythically heroic addition to that world.Plenty of people don't get this movie and I don't know why. Roger Ebert loved "Dark City," but passed on "Brazil," inexplicably, so even critics aren't perfect. Many of today's films owe much to "Brazil" and that alone makes it important.In the end, three stars for the package and five for the film itself. The lack of a more pristine print subtracts two full stars from what would have otherwise been a perfect review, however. Criterion's boxset, though flawed, is still the best way to experience the film, so if you are a fan of "Brazil" or Gilliam's work, this is the only way to fly."
Quite possibly the reason DVD was invented
John DiBello | Brooklyn, NY | 11/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Three discs? *Three* discs? That's what you're probably thinking if you're looking at this and *not* a fan of one of the finest films of our time. But this exquisite three-disc treatment is probably the best argument for DVD (and thankfully, for Criterion) that I can give you: Watch these discs, listen to the extensive audio commentary, compare Gilliam's brilliant vision with the Hollywood Studio "Love Conquers All" bastardization, er, sorry, recutting (how many directors would include a admittedly contradictory vision of his film on a DVD set just to *show* how Hollywood can drastically reshape a vision?), watch the documentary...you'll come away from this boxed set experience understanding more about film and directing, and sadly, studio politics, than you'll ever get from reading "Variety" (certainly more than I got from filmmaking college courses!) At the heart of it all, though, the many extras and made-with-care package would add up to nothing if the original film itself weren't so bloody brilliant. There's very few modern *directors* who will pull me into the box office just to see a new film...Gilliam is one of them. Even his flops or misfires are more interesting than most. But when he hits on all cylinders (excuse the mixed metaphor) as in "Brazil"...the result is purely sublime. Bravo to Gilliam; bravo to Criterion for giving us the definitive home version of the film(s)--a version impossible on VHS. I love my DVD player!"
Gilliam classic remastered worth picking up (this review is
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Terry Gilliam's classic satire returns to DVD in a spiffed up edition from Criterion. Featuring a high definition anamorphic remaster the picture looks great (and it has been enhanced for 16x9 TVs so it will fill the screen)the sound has been remastered as well. Is it worth picking up again? Absolutely if you're a fan of the film. The single disc edition is basically the same as the first disc in the three disc set--it includes Gilliam's commentary track as part of the package as well as the "Final Cut" version of the film that runs 142 minutes (vs. 131 for the regular DVD release).
The good news is that unlike the previous edition,"Brazil" has been digitally remastered with special attention paid to cleaning up the film so we don't have all the bits of dirt and debris that occasionally marred the original DVD transfer (which was essentially a DVD transfer of the original laserdisc version).
If you purchased the three disc set and want to upgrade you could just pick up this single disc edition as the extras are exactly the same as the previous edition (unless you want the remastered "Love Conquers All" 92 minute edit done by Universal to make it more commercial). Be aware though that the single disc edition doesn't have any of the material from the third disc of the boxed set. That disc documented the insanity that surrounded the film when Universal deemed it not commercial enough.
Why it took Criterion so long to get this new improved version to market is anyone's guess (and why it took them so long to adopt anamorphic transfers as well). This really is the way it should have been released in the first place. Either way this edition looks and sounds great. It has a terrific commentary track by director Gilliam, an essay but no other extras."
Brazil - the ultimate dvd boxset for Criterion collectors!!
DA MAN | SINGAPORE | 07/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the re-release of Brazil by Criterion, which stars Robert DeNiro, Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins and many more, and directored by Terry Gilliam.... this is the ulitmate movie that all science fiction buffs must own...
So what is the difference between this release and the previous 3 disc collection???? Well primarily, it's for the new Anamorphic presentation of the film, it will otherwise be the same as the previous release......
For those who already own the previous release, my suggestion is to go for the single discer to replace the older non Anamorphic feature disc, but for those who don't have a copy... what are u waiting for ???? Get this boxset today!!!!This is the very defintion of what eXtras on a dvd collector's set should have..... Criterion accomplished the untinkiable!!!
For the benefit of those who do not have the previous release, this is the breakdown of all the dvd details....
All-new, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Terry Gilliam, with a remastered Dolby stereo surround soundtrack--NOW IN ANAMORPHIC!!
Audio commentary by Gilliam
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
PLUS: An essay by Jack Mathews
A treasure trove of Brazil-iana:
30-minute on-set documentary What Is Brazil?
Criterion's original exposé The Battle of "Brazil": A Video History, which reassembles players in the battle over the film's U.S. release
Hundreds of storyboards, drawings, and publicity and production stills
Rare raw and behind-the-scenes footage
Exclusive video interviews with the production team
Original theatrical trailer
The 94-minute "Love Conquers All" version of Brazil, with all the changes Gilliam refused to make
An audio essay by journalist David Morgan
Criterion Should Do All Universal DVDs
firstname.lastname@example.org | Amherst, MA USA | 03/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just a warning, but if you buy the non-Criterion Collection version of Brazil, you are getting the 2 hour, 11 minute American release, which is what people got in theatres in America in 1985, in other words, the Universal Studios domestic release.If you buy the Criterion Collection Version, you get two movies, neither of which is 2 hours, 11 minutes long! The first disc is the International Release from 1985, as distributed by Fox, which is 2 hours, 22 minutes long. The other disc is the 94 minute cut (abomination, what have you) created by Sid Sheinberg and Universal Studios.Again, even the standard release of the Brazil DVD is a product of Universal butchering, which, while it allows for a dark ending, cuts a couple of scenes at the end that help to tie the film together. If you have not seen all 142 minutes (2 hours, 11 minutes) of Brazil, you have not been to Brazil...Universal has continued to disappoint me with sub-standard DVD releases (the Jerk and The Sting, both full screen and poor digital transfers, Dune in its shortened domestic release, and many more), which brings me to my original point, which is that Criterion, who's special edition DVDs are consistently wonderful, should do all of Universal's DVDs, and put us out of our misery."