The things you can look for in this film and possibly find; sentient technology, Greek mythology, a small oh-so-adorable toddler saying “put it on big boy, I won’t look at your willie!”, exceedingly heavy leanings on the Orwellian masterpiece 1984 and potentially one of the most well thought-out reverse deus ex machina your eyes will ever see. And it’s heartbreaking, which is the best bit.
Brazil is a futuristic film set in the past, about the present. It has too many themes and references and parodies for one to digest in a singular viewing and this review should come with a disclaimer that it is not an analysis. Because that could take forever, which neither you nor I have.
Seen in the professional and superficial world as the epitome of benign, he is pushed down by his nervous, needy and apprehensive superior, Mr. Kurtzmann (Ian Holm) and pushed up by his age-defying, well-connected, elitist mother, Mrs. Lowry (Katherine Helmond). Jill Layton (Greist) witnesses and files a complaint for the wrongful arrest of Mr. Buttle during the Tuttle-Buttle kerfuffle. Robert Di Niro (Archibald Tuttle), heavily credited to market the movie in America, is the renegade engineer who defies the fascism of this noir-esque future by bypassing the hoards of paperwork and just helps people and technology become more compatible with one another ‘for the action.’
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. —Carl Sagan
Just as the humans are machinised, the machines are humanised. Sam’s apartment in particular, needs no real cue from him, and with the best of intentions pours coffee all over his toast and replaces coffee with sugar and fails to wake him up for work. The overly intrusive contraption that pokes and prods Jill at the time of her complaint shows technology to be somehow endearing and only human. There is an overwhelming dependency on machinery even though it is shown to be unreliable throughout the film, sometimes with fatal consequences. However, erroneous it may be, its gaping intestine-like omnipresence is something to be acknowledged as we come to find through Sam’s subconscious interpretations of his retro-future reality.
Gilliam has always emphasised the importance of exercising imagination and this film is a serious tribute to the [mostly] human monopoly in regards to that gift. The dream sequence between Sam and the Samurai who is meant to represent the tyranny of technology, the pipes and tunnels so much like human innards, the food that appears like congealed regurgitations are some of the many ways he represents human reliance on the inanimate.
‘It’s all a state of mind.’