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Brazil Blu-ray Review

Brazil Blu-ray

“Brazil” is one of Terry Gilliam’s finest films.

Set in a totalitarian future where technology constantly fails and terrorist attacks are commonplace, “Brazil” revolves around a Ministry of Information worker named Sam Lowry. He lives a fairly routine life, but he has vivid fantasies of being a winged hero who saves a beautiful woman. Sam’s life becomes turned upside down when he actually sees the woman he dreams about in real life. From there on out, Sam makes it his goal in life to track down his dream woman even if he has to break rules and get in trouble doing so. There’s also key subplot involving a terrorist/heating engineer named Archibald Tuttle.

When it comes to sci-fi fantasy films, there aren’t many like “Brazil.” Director Terry Gilliam has crafted a starkly original, weird, frantic, and darkly humorous story that was clearly ahead of its time. With strong ideas about technological dependence, Government rule, terrorism, plastic surgery/vanity, escapist fantasies, consumerism, and romance, it’s truly a wonder this film was made at all. To say it’s not commercial or Hollywood is an understatement. It’s a bold and brave movie that isn’t afraid to take viewers down a dark and unhappy path (at least with the acclaimed director’s cut).

The cast is equally impressive here. Robert DeNiro delivers a great supporting performance as Archibald Tuttle, but it’s the underrated Jonathan Pryce who arguably gives his career best performance here as Sam Lowry. Look for memorable turns by Michael Palin, Ian Holm, Katherine Helmond and Kim Greist.

I don’t want to end this review without touching on the production values and the music. When you watch a Terry Gilliam film, you can usually expect to see mindbending visuals and he certainly gives viewers plenty to gawk out here. From Lowry’s fantasies to the drab, cramped offices, Gilliam really gives you a sense of place and atmosphere in the universe he creates. As for the score, it’s become somewhat of a classic over the years and rightly so. It was even used in the trailer for Pixar’s “Wall-E” a few years back!

Note: This set contains the 142 minute director’s cut and the 94 minute “happy ending” studio cut dubbed the “Love Conquers All” version.

Video/Audio:

“Brazil,” which is presented in 1.78:1 1080p, may look a bit rough with some of the early grainy special f/x fantasy sequences, but the print is quite impressive overall. Between the massive interior sets, the lavish and colorful fantasy set pieces, and Gilliam’s trademark visual style.

The DTS-HD 2.0 audio track is much better than I thought it would be. The explosions, sound f/x, score, and dialogue all sound quite lively here.

Extras:
* “Brazil” trailer.
* An interesting commentary by Terry Gilliam on the director’s cut. He chats about themes, a never shot opening, special f/x and makeup, concepts, characters, etc.
* Commentary on the “Love Conquers All”
* A booklet featuring an essay by author/film critic/film professor David Sterritt.
* “The Production Notebook”- A 6 part series of extras that cover the costume, score special effects, storyboards, the screenwriters, and the production design. Lots of material to take in here. A real behind-the-scenes treat for fans of Gilliam’s epic.
* “The Battle Of Brazil: A Video History”- A documentary about the troubled U.S. release of the film. The docu covers Terry Gilliam’s experiences in making the film, the fights Gilliam had with Sid Sheinberg, the Cannes premiere, studio executives, screenings, and the film’s release.
* “What is Brazil?” is another documentary. This half hour docu contains set footage, cast and crew interviews, film clips, and lengthy discussions about the film and its themes.

Summary: If you’ve never seen “Brazil” before, give it a watch. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly a film everyone must experience at least once. As for fans of the film, you can’t ask for a better hi-def disc than this Criterion Blu-ray. Pick it up.

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December 13, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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