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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Brazil (1985)

Brazil (1985)

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Released 17-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-What Is Brazil?
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 136:16 (Case: 124)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terry Gilliam
Arnon Milchan
Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Jonathan Pryce
Kim Greist
Robert De Niro
Ian Holm
Katherine Helmond
Jim Broadbent
Ian Richardson
Bob Hoskins
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $36.95 Music Michael Kamen

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    "Don't suspect a friend - report him. Suspicion breeds confidence."

    Widely considered a classic of modern cinema, this is Terry Gilliam's masterpiece and possibly the darkest Christmas film ever made! Brazil is a hilarious, paranoid and chilling study of free man and his unavoidable enslavement to an establishment of his own making. The hero of our story is Sam Lowry (Jonathon Price), a government employee in a menial job, who dreams of the perfect woman, angelic features and flowing lace gowns aplenty. Looking for a way out of his ordinary existence, Sam finds his dream girl Jill (the gorgeous Kim Greist) in the flesh and suspects her of being a closet terrorist. As his relationship with Jill deepens, the infallible system begins to close in around him from all directions.

    Brazil is literally bursting at the seams with surprise cameos and inspiring performances. Robert DeNiro is excellent as Archibald 'Harry' Tuttle, a rogue heating engineer, and Nigel Planer makes an appearance as a Department of Works employee. Ian Holm is sublime as Sam Lowry's jittery and inept boss, while Spoor (Bob Hoskins) is DeNiro's rival from multi-national conglomerate Central Services.

    Director and co-writer Terry Gilliam earned fame as a member of Monty Python, contributing the insane animation and some memorable performances. Gilliam also co-directed some of the group's film projects and is a successful filmmaker in his own right, with classics like Jabberwocky, Time Bandits and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Brazil itself has an extraordinary history, with many different cuts of the film in existence, and the struggle that was endured by Gilliam to get his own version of the film seen has been the subject of many books, essays and documentaries. You'll find a description of the version of Brazil we have received in the Region 4 vs Region 1 section of this review.

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Transfer Quality


    I was pleasantly surprised with this transfer and while it is by no means reference quality, it's much easier on the eyes than the version I have been watching for the past few years. More on that later.

    This transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The level of sharpness is very good indeed, with lots of fine detail evident in the transfer. Shadow detail is equally impressive in the darker scenes of the film. I actually noticed many objects and pieces of action in the shadows that I had never seen before. There was no low level noise.

    This often gloomy film is dominated by pollution, industry and concrete, hence there is not a lot of focus on bold colouring. Skin tones appeared true and no colour bleeding was apparent. Colour rendition was consistent throughout the transfer.

    Absolutely no MPEG artefacts were seen. Aliasing was also absent, which was surprising considering the sharpness inherent in the transfer. Some film artefacts appeared; a noticeable black speck at 17:59 and some tiny white spots at 32:40. These were not overly distracting at all.

    The English subtitles appeared to accurately follow the pace of the spoken words, but often skipped a word or two without losing too much meaning. Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles are also available.

    This is an RSDL disc with the layer transition positioned at 78:13. This is at a silent moment in the film and although it noticeably pauses the action on-screen, I've seen far worse layer changes.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is a good and surprisingly active audio transfer. Only an English audio track is available, Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192Kb/s).

    From the very beginning I had to increase my listening level quite a bit in order to clearly understand the dialogue. This in turn made some of the effects very loud. This considered, I had no trouble understanding the spoken word. Audio sync was flawless and ADR was very accurate.

    The film's score by Michael Kamen incorporates a sometimes haunting, recurring theme of varying arrangements. One particularly memorable piece is near the film's climax, with a tempo that begins almost eerily, then builds to a percussive action-adventure style before slowing down again. I find it almost impossible to imagine this film now without Kamen's amazing and original score. Great stuff.

    The surround channels were used for musical accompaniment and some special effects including explosions and various Foley effects. One notable instance was the scene in Jill's apartment: as the camera moves forward past her television, the audio pans from front to rear very distinctly. In fact, the surround channel usage on this track was better than some 5.1 soundtracks I've heard lately.

    A noticeable audio dropout occurs at 58:23. Judging by its placement, I am convinced this is a clumsy editing fault. This mistake was corrected for the Director's Cut.

    Subwoofer response was minimal. I noticed a little flutter during an explosion at 92:40, but not much else noteworthy.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A little on the bare side I'm afraid, but better than nothing.


    All menus are silent, static and are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a very bizarre cheap looking graphic of the film's title, not even remotely resembling the proper neon logo. This is strange considering the disc itself is printed with the good logo.

Featurette - What Is Brazil? (27:55)

    Bob Hedden's award-winning documentary is presented in 1.33:1 and features interviews with the cast, writers, producer and Gilliam himself. Also explored is a lost scene which involved a very complicated special effects shot and was sadly dropped from production. Also available are the same array of subtitles that were bestowed on the feature, including English.


    A typical trailer, nicely presented in 1.85:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this successfully conveys the mayhem of the film without divulging any major plot points.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    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 4 version of this DVD misses out on:

    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.


    Brazil is an amazing, confronting, hilarious and disturbingly important film, even more pertinent in today's climate than it was eighteen years ago. It has been given a great transfer in Region 4 and includes an informative documentary. This film falls squarely in the must-own category.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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