There are entire websites out there dedicated to the many incarnations of this film, and I don't intend to go into the intricate differences between every one of them here. I have briefly compared our release to the definitive director's 'final final cut', which was released by Criterion in Region 1.
The version of the film we have on our Region 4 release is the same cut as the European video release, which was also released theatrically in some parts of Europe. There are a number of small differences (totalling a measly 1:03 in PAL terms) in the Region 1 Criterion 'final final cut'. These include:
I must point out that after viewing my Region 1 release for a few years now, I was initially struck by the sharpness, cleanliness and distinct lack of film artefacts in our transfer. Particularly during Sam's dream sequences, the Criterion transfer is very dirty indeed and a majority of the transfer is riddled with noticeable film artefacts. The Criterion version also suffers from quite a bit of telecine wobble throughout.
The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on:
I'm going to leave this one open for you to decide. Honestly, the extra footage in the Criterion cut is very minor and we have an infinitely better video transfer than the Criterion release, but lacking the extra 1:03 of the Director's final cut. The Criterion 3 DVD set is a beauty (an expensive beauty) with some very interesting extra material, however I think die-hards and casual fans alike will want to purchase this Region 4 release for its far superior video transfer.
UPDATE: August 2006. Criterion (Region 1) have remastered their cut of Brazil and re-released it with the same spine number as the old version. The new transfer is 16x9 enhanced and includes all of the old features in a similar 3-disc package. A single disc version is also available. If you're yet to make a purchase, the Criterion is the way to go.