In Terry Gilliam's film, when Ary Barroso's 1939 classic song Aquarela do Brasil starts playing, it is impossible to know that you will never hear the song in the same way again. 'Somewhere in the 20th century,' Brazil begins. Where and when, exactly? That's for you to decide, Dear Viewer. You can see a not-too-distant future, though at times the aesthetic of the film may make you feel that it has already happened. Perhaps we are in the year the film was made, the ominous 1984? The location, the system: it is a world of excessive control, with a totalitarian dictatorship entrenched with bureaucracy. At the same time, there are some humorous moments: crazy costumes and fictional fashions abound, while the gastronomy, transport, computers and 'smart home' designs are stunning. It's all very retro (not that people used that word back in 1985). And, of course, in this authoritarian world, terrible mistakes ensue. It's just that it's not so easy to see the funny side. Because human lives depend on these errors. Because these absurd scenes are full of fear. Everybody is being watched, and if they stand out from the crowd, or if they don't have the right connections, they may well find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
It is a strange and unsettling film. At times it makes subtle intellectual references, and at times it is breathtakingly cruel. There are also moments where the hope of romance warms the spirit. And others which are overwhelmingly dark, with only dreams and Aquarela do Brasil capable of lifting us up.
Presented by: Müpa Budapest
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