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Brazil (1985)

Welcome to the fantastic world of the future, where a heating engineer can be a mysterious hero

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 136 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


Jonathan Pryce stars as Sam Lowry, a faceless civil servant in a massive futuristic bureaucracy. In this world, the grinding wheels of the state manage everything, as long as the paperwork is in order – although the technology often doesn't work and there's never anyone to complain to. Sam dreams of being free – of flying away from drudgery and bureaucracy to become a great hero with wings. He also dreams about a mysterious but beautiful woman that his hero-self can save. However, in general, Sam does as he's expected to do, even if he doesn't always know why.

Sam's safe life starts to come apart, however, when he sees his dream girl looking down at him through a hole in the ceiling during an arrest. Then he spots a mistake in the arrest paperwork and follows up on the administrative error. It would seem that a Mr Buttle has been arrested accidentally instead of Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), a maverick heating engineer on the run from the state. While trying to rectify the wrongful arrest, Sam finally meets his dream girl Jill Layton (Kim Greist). When Sam's air conditioning breaks down in his apartment, he also gets to meet the anarchic heating engineer Tuttle. A confused Sam now finds himself being accused by the state as being behind a spate of terrorist bombings.

Still unique after all these years, “Brazil” is very much a visual feast and looks great. The film is beautiful and bleak by turns, with attention paid to every tiny detail, making this future world vivid and full of impace. While the plot is quite superficial, in spite of its many twists and turns, it is the setting that gives it depth and requires thought from the audience. Jonathan Pryce is wonderful as the somewhat confused bureaucrat, although sadly Robert De Niro as the fascinating Tuttle is only on screen for a few minutes.

Also features appearances by Nigel Planer, Ian Richardson, Peter Vaughn and Jim Broadbent, plus an uncredited cameo by top stunt coordinator Terry Forestal.

It's Got: Wonderful use of imagery.

It Needs: More use of De Niro as the wonderful anarchic heating engineer.

DVD Extras Nice to see Rob Hedden’s award-winning documentary included with this single-disc release. Extras: Documentary, Theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10


If anything, “Brazil” has significantly improved with age. A film for the “Matrix” generation, its time has now come.