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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Interviews
  • Documentaries - What Is Brazil?


20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 131 mins . M15+ . PAL


It’s hard to explain Brazil. On many levels it’s many different films, but for the most part it’s about escape. Escaping from everyday boredom, escaping from our crappy jobs and escaping from our parents. Escape from reality, escape from the authorities and eventual escape from sanity.

Or is it?

Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece of cinema art has never looked as good as it does on DVD right now. I was astounded by the quality of this film’s transfer to DVD. The last time I saw it, it was on a grainy ‘hired-by-two-hundred and twelve-people-before-me’ videotape and I was lucky to make out the leading man, Kurt Russell. Now, with this glorious version I see the leading man was actually Jonathon Pryce and instantly the film got much better.

Versions of this film, it seems, are like bums: everyone’s got one. This version appears to be the Original European Theatrical Release, and not quite the Final Director’s Cut version seen overseas (although its differences are slight). We should happily live with that, I mean, at least it’s not the Love Conquers All version where everything is sweetness and light with a fabulous happy ending.

The film covers the darkly comic journey of Sam Lowry, a middle-aged bureaucrat with a dominating mother, who dreams of escaping his workerday world for the superheroism of ‘saving the girl’. When a bungle sends him on an errand, he inadvertently comes across the woman in his dreams and his life begins decaying under the glare of corporate scrutiny and his own ideals. Throw in a handful of social commentary, another jugful of laughs and a miasma of big names playing small parts and you have classic Terry Gilliam film-making.

"We’re all in it together, kid!"

And if you’re curious about the title, it refers to Latin music carrying one away from the grey world of modern industrial society. It underwent many different names throughout it’s production, including The Ministry and 1984 and a half.

Brazil clocks in at a little over two hours, which in my mind is just the teeny-tiniest bit too long for this movie. It does drag a little in parts, but the visuals more than make up for this. It’s art, remember? You’re not supposed to just like it...


It seems they have spared no expense to bring this film to DVD and man, does it smell good. Thrill to crystal clear, 1.85:1 (enhanced) vision so good you won’t need yer glasses, in fact, you will believe yourself there in Gilliam’s dark world of tomorrow/yesterday. I caught very few film artefacts throughout and those I did are hardly worth a mention. The colours are magnificent; blacks are black (a lot of these, too), and whites are whiter than white (but there aren’t so many whites). Every horror in the palette of colour on Mrs Lowry’s wrinkled old face glows under the cling wrap, every neon sign burns brightly and true and every corridor disappearing into the distance is seamlessly conveyed. This transfer has been accomplished to the state of the art, and no mistake. Kudos to 20th Century Fox.


Well, the sound just leaps at you from every direction, not bad at all for a surround encoded Dolby Digital stereo mix. At times the music starts up a little too brusquely and loudly after a momentary silence, which is a little disconcerting. Gunfire and explosions, also, tend to rise a little too high in parts, prompting a startled jump for the remote before the neighbours wake up. Dialogue, however, is clear and direct and is only rarely outweighed by the SFX. I found the dialogue to be the best feature of the audio, actually, and although the music is perfectly clear with no noise or static to speak of, it must come in a close second.


There's not a great deal here, but the value of the inclusions is great. The award-winning 30 minute documentary ‘What is Brazil?’ has some fantastic insights into the creation of this marvellous work. Gilliam himself speaks throughout the piece, interviewed at length on any number of subjects about the film, while there is a great interview/sketch featuring Michael Palin as himself and his own assistant. Giving an interview about the film as if on the telephone to someone else on the same subject shows Palin’s whimsy at its finest. As an interesting sidebar, this doco (which was made during and shortly after filming) features model makers who state quite clearly that Gilliam demands nothing short of ‘virtual reality’ in regard to his models. I found that touch quite incredible as I’m sure the term wasn’t in common usage back then, not to mention the fact that the film is ‘futuristic’. Another quick point (with quip thrown in): This doco hasn’t been restored so there are a (drumroll, please) brazillion film artefacts contained within it. (Applause). Thank you, thank you!

On top of that there’s the original theatrical trailer. I’m not sure for which version (and research proved futile), but I’m going to assume it’s for the version we get on this DVD. It doesn’t help you understand the story any more, but it’s always cool to see a trailer from the past after you’ve become familiar with the film (I always think, anyway).


If you love Gilliam’s work, this film is a must. For those among us unfamiliar with his work, this is one of the best vehicles in which to be introduced to it. Almost a visual precursor to 1995's 12 Monkeys, its screen richness and biting satire make for fabulous viewing time and again. Or, if you just want to see how well they can transfer a film to DVD, this is the one to see it on. Wow!

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      And I quote...
    "This transfer has been accomplished to the state of the art. Brazil’s screen richness and biting satire make for fabulous viewing time and again. "
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
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          Sony 51cm
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    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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