Brazil was a movie that I knew about but had never seen. I first learned about it through an old issue of Entertainment Weekly growing up, where a picture from the movie was featured in an article. That picture was so incredibly odd that my young brain couldn’t comprehend what was happening in the picture, especially since the caption barely said the title of the movie. In the years between when I first learned about the movie and finally seeing it, I saw other stills from the movie that were incredibly different. The major differences between all of the stills I’ve seen from the movie don’t even do the movie justice.

Knowing that this movie was a Terry Gilliam movie going kind of set me up to have an idea what I was getting into. Gilliam cowrote the script alongside Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown, but I’m not sure what they added to the script. Terry Gilliam’s style shines through since he’s the director. The movie’s style is what I would call Art Deco nightmare. The movie blends genres in a darkly comedic way.

The cast is one of the reasons that Brazil stands out after so long. Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Bob Hoskins, Michael Palin, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughn, and Kim Greist star. The cast is incredibly impressive looking back with where the majority of them have gone since. I knew Katherine Helmond from her time on Who’s The Boss? and she’s the reason I first learned. She was in the still that was in Entertainment Weekly. Robert De Niro’s performance feels like the blueprint of what he would go on to do in Stardust. All of the performances are amplified by the effects and set design.

The effects are impressive. They’re mostly used in dream sequences and they start as a fantasy sort of thing but they shift into something nightmarish. That’s helped along by the set and costume design. The set design is impressive and influenced a wide variety of other things. The costume design works with the camera work to visually shift genres, with it looking like a classic film noir for the last twenty minutes. Michael Kamen’s score is interesting. There are several reworkings of the song “Brazil” which is where the title of the movie comes from.

Brazil is a darkly comedic satire wrapped in an Art Deco nightmare. As I write this Brazil is on Peacock but the service says that the movie will be leaving soon. I don’t know if that means the end of February or sometime in March. I’m glad that I was finally able to see the movie, even if I felt like I was underprepared for it. I felt like I saw the beginning of some of Terry Gilliam’s latter movies. I give Brazil 8 receipts out of 10. {kofi]

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