It’s been a while since Terry Gilliam has come close to the magic of Brazil or The Fisher King, two of his best. With The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parmesan (Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium?) coming out this month we’ll either be shown a fantastic return to form or just be reminded of how good it used to be. It’s because of this that I sat down to watch Brazil the other night and as I watched Jonathan Pryce flying around dystopia like a metallic demi-god I was reminded of the time when the Monty Python guru could simultaneously amuse and disgust and even intrigue so fantastically. Brazil just makes the insipid The Brothers Grimm even more unbearable (try not to watch it if you can).
Anyway the basic plot (if you’ve been mad enough to avoid Brazil for all these years) is this: Jonathan Pryce is Sam Lowry, lonely office worker in a bureaucratic retro-future. He has wild dreams in which he soars through the sky and often encounters a beautiful Goddess. In attempting to correct an administrative error and to get close to the woman from his dreams Sam becomes a wanted man. I won’t spoil the rest of the film for you, despite to say the lines of reality start to blur and Robert De Niro makes an appearance as a member of the resistance to the 1984-style oppressive government.
The bureaucratic future is so over-the-top that brilliantly ludicrous lines such as “This is your receipt for your husband... and this is my receipt for your receipt” are common-place and a Python-esque mood sits below the slightly creepy and disturbing surface at all times. In one particular restaurant scene one still gets the feeling that Mr Creosote could appear at any moment, so the charm of Gilliam’s earlier work is still very much in tact. Parts of Brazil will remain in your subconscious for years and this brings me to wonder why the brilliance and slightly disturbing nature of this 1985 masterpiece cannot be reproduced. It could of course partly be that Brazil is one of a kind, but The Fisher King (that I might review at some point) is just as exceptional. One can only assume that Gilliam is fading out like a white Stevie Wonder and that he may never fly as high as he once did. Again if you haven’t seen Gilliam’s finest I can’t recommend it enough. From Sam Lowry’s pitch perfect performance to one of the best final acts in any film ever made Brazil will be put into our top 100 greatest films of all time and will hopefully be joined by Doctor Parnassus, but I am not holding my breath
Sam Lowry: Give my best to Alison and the twins.
Jack Lint: Triplets.
Sam Lowry: Triplets? My how time flies