Terry Gilliam's 1985 lavish sci-fi fantasy - a bleak vision of a future where bureaucrats have the upper hand and miscreants face torture - owes many debts, especially to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. A blistering broadside against bureaucracy gone mad, the film is set in a totalitarian state "somewhere in the 20th century", full of odd characters.
Sam Lowry - Jonathan Pryce - is a clerk at the all-seeing Ministry of Information who keeps his head down and daydreams to transport himself from his drab reality. One day he finds that he's been arrested because of a misprint, and his world turns upside down. To survive, Lowry takes on the system, although the real hero is a subversive guerilla plumber, brilliantly played by Robert De Niro...
Numerous problems beset Brazil's release. Although it was shown around the world with an extremely dark conclusion as Gilliam intended it, in the US this was not the case. Film executives there felt the ending didn't work and refused to release the movie, preparing a shorter version of it with a happier ending. A major row blew up, and eventually Gilliam went public, taking out a full-page advertisement in Variety to make his point. A compromise shorter version was assembled.
This powerful film continues to grow in reputation. Highly recommended.