Comparing Gilliam's Brazil and Radford's Adaptation of 1984

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Comparing Gilliam's Brazil and. Radford's Adaptation of 1984

While researching for a book on the making of and feud over the American release of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, author Jack Mathews read virtually every review of the film printed in the United States and found that very few failed to refer to the film as "futuristic" or "Orwellian." "The comparisons are understandable, if inaccurate," says Mathews, "There isn't a futuristic element in Brazil. The story is Orwellian, in the sense that it is set in a totalitarian state where individuality is smothered by enforced conformity. But where George Orwell...was envisioning a future ruled by fascism and technology, Gilliam was satirizing the bureaucratic, largely dysfunctional industrial world that had been driving him crazy all his life"(Mathews). Terry Gilliam's Brazil, made in 1985, at first glance, seems much like Michael Radford's film version of George Orwell's 1984, made in 1984, in its setting and story. However, upon further examination of the two films, there are differences in style and tone that distance them from each other. 1984 is dark and gloomy from beginning to end while Brazil, though still dark, has a much lighter atmosphere. The love stories presented in both films are unmistakably similar and make the plots seem closer to each other, but this is the only strong link they share, for differences in tone distance the films from each other. Because of its dark humor, Brazil is a satire of the very society in which the story takes place, while 1984, though also a satire, lacks any humor whatsoever and is more of a horror story of a society that might await mankind.

In the opening scene, Terry Gilliam's Brazil seems to be quite jovial. A shot in which the camera hovers through the sky, passing in and out of clouds, starts the film off while the song "Brazil," after which the movie was named, fills the soundtrack. Titles begin to appear over the soaring shot. The titles read, "Somewhere in the 20th Century," informing the audience of the time period, but confusing them as well. The world in which the movie's main character dwells is a dreary, dystopian, retro-futuristic metropolis, a far cry from anything that has been seen this century. In this world, nobody is protected from the government; individuals are executed as a result of administrative errors. The compensation for these wrongful deaths is a simple refund check.

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