Why We Fear The 20th Century
In the early 1980's, a vision of dystopia was lying in the mind of Terry Gilliam. That vision was his future film Brazil to be written by Tom Stoppard, Charles McKeown, and himself. The movie was filmed in Wembley, England by Lee International Film Studios. After being a remarkable success during its release in Europe in 1984, Brazil had much more difficulties with its release in the United States. Terry Gilliam had previously signed a contract with Universal Studios for an expected 132-minute movie.
Brazil, as released in Europe was 142 minutes long. Universal Studios took this opportunity to edit the film as they chose to make it a more marketable film from their perspective. Unfortunately for Terry Gilliam, this meant that they would completely reconstruct the meaning of the movie. He quickly took to doing his own re-editing of the movie to fit it in the 132 minute prerequisite and turned it over in January of 1985. Once this was done, Universal Studios no longer had the right to change Gilliam's movie and instead insisted on not releasing it.
Infuriated by his work being put on the shelf, Terry Gilliam took out a full-page advertisement in Variety magazine with the words: Dear Sid Sheinberg,when are going to release my film 'BRAZIL'?
Although this advertisement did not get his film released it did create quite a stir among the Los Angeles movie critics. In fact, they were so curious about the movie that the film was played privately in their homes and getting fantastic reviews. The movie did so well, that it ended up winning Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Direction. With much reluctance and little advertising, Universal Studios to released the movie in December of 1985. (http:\home.sol.no~frittz)
This final release is what still holds the fans of today. Every frame of the movie is speaking to its audience about the issues surrounding the twentieth century and particularly the late seventies and early eighties. It can speak so well of the entire century because the setting itself is unclear about when the events of the film are occurring. In the opening sequence to the movie, 8:49 pm (pause) somewhere in the 20th century, appears across the screen. The people are dressed in 1930's fashions using technologies, some of which are beyond the ...
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...ther, who wore the hat, was the ‘perfect’ individual in Brazil’s society. She spent lots of money and felt the government was doing a wonderful job by making it possible for her to think about nothing but her plastic surgery. Reagan not only increased the gap between the classes, he dramatically increased peoples urge to buy because it was the popular thing to do. America’s government was frighteningly close to the Ministry of Information when it came to pushing products. Slogans about buying and being American were one and the same.
Brazil tackles an enormous amount of concerns about progress in the twentieth century. Those issues included: government control, the internet, invasion of privacy, separation of classes, consumerism, and technology. Though the specifics of the issues were different between decades, they were always on the forefront during this century. In about two hours, Terry Gilliam managed to name them all. Though Brazil itself seems very detached from the real world, the amount of parallels is astonishing. Overall, Gilliam encourages awareness. That progress and its brothers are not inherently evil but that they must be controlled, cared for and attended to.
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