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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover



Starring: Jonathan Pryce, Bob Hoskins and Robert De Niro
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 05 December 2011

Sam Lowry lives in a dysfunctional dystopia, where the state even charges you to be interrogated. A deliberate low achiever, Sam, spends his days as a low level computer worker, while dreaming of being a flying superhero rescuing a particular distress damsel. When a fly falls into a printer, it mistypes the name ‘Buttle’, a wholly innocent citizen, when it should have printed out the name ‘Tuttle’, an infamous terrorist. Sam’s attempts to rectify the situation lead him to meet Jill, literally the woman of his dreams. He finally asks his mother for help to move to ‘Information Retrieval’ so that he can track her down...

Brazil (1985 - 2 hr, 23 min, 20 sec) is a whimsical dark dream from the master of the strange, Terry Gilliam, from a script by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. The film won eight awards and was nominated for a further three, including two Oscars.

It’s hard to place Brazil in any one single genre, as it encompasses elements of science fiction, farce and political critique. This is envisioned in the opening sequence where we first see a government minister trying to explain that a thirteen year terrorist campaign is little more than bad sportsmanship. This is followed by shots of the clerk killing the fly, which sets off the string of absurdist events and finally the arrest of Mr Buttle, by militaristic police, and a smiling man from the ministry who insist on having the traumatised Mrs Buttle sign a receipt for her husband.

Jonathan Pryce plays Sam, a man who has turned his back on the world, preferring to live within his dreams. Although from a higher class in this stratified society he has never really engaged, which means when he turns from being an office clerk into a freedom fighter he is singularly ill equipped for the role.

Katherine Helmond (Mrs. Ida Lowry) fresh off her stint on Soap continues her off key quirky performance as Sam’s mother, a woman obsessed with marrying her son off and having ever more plastic surgery.

There are star turns by Robert De Niro as Archibald 'Harry' Tuttle, the real revolutionary and Michael Palin as the fastidious Jack Lint, a man who likes things to be just right and whose day job at the Ministry of Information Retrieval sees him engage in torturing people for information.

In truth, the film is littered with good actors putting in solid performances, including Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughan and Jim Broadbent. The only disappointment is the muted performance by Kim Greist as Sam’s dream girl, Jill Layton.

The film-s transfer to Blu-ray has done a lot to improve picture quality and definition, the film has always been deliberately soft, to blur the edges between fantasy and reality. The audio is a little disappointing only offering up a DD 2.0 track, which has a high degree of clarity, but the film would have been further enhanced with a 5.1 track.

Extras on the disc are also a little under whelming, considering the wealth of material which has already popped up on previous discs. Here we have the Theatrical Trailer (3 min, 03 sec) and a short feature What is Brazil? (29 min, 08 sec) which has contributions by Gilliam and the cast, as well as an interesting contribution from Tom Stoppard.

The film remains an excellent example of Gilliam's work and the extra definition is worth the price of the disc. It’s just a shame they were not able to provide a more expansive set of extras.


Charles Packer

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