Capital Celluloid - Day 87: Tuesday Mar 29, 2011

Brazil (Gilliam, 1984): Haymarket Cineworld, 6.30pm (plus introduction by Jonathan Pryce)

Time Out's 100 Best British films list published last month had Brazil at No24. The magazine have devoted a season to some of the finest from that list and Jonathan Pryce, who played central character Sam Lowry, will introduce the movie.

Brazil has a fascinating history. Universal Studios were horrified on seeing the original cut Terry Gilliam wanted to put out and after a lengthy delay while studio executives dithered the director was forced to take a full-page ad out in trade magazine Variety demanding to know why his film had not been released.

The version of Brazil released outside the United States was very different from the one seen by Americans, which was drastically re-edited and given a happy ending. The Brazil Gilliam wanted the public to see and the one which will be screened as part of the Time Out season is a bold and superbly imaginative movie with an ending which haunted me for some time when I saw it on its initial release.

Gilliam himself said he wanted Brazil to be "the Nineteen Eighty-Four for 1984". In many ways he  succeeded, creating a nightmarish Orwellian world in which freedom is limited while fashioning a film which leaves its audience dumbfounded and despairing. No wonder Universal could not face unleashing it on an unsuspecting American public.

Here is the trailer.

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