Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Brazil (1985)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Brazil (1985, UK)

In Terry Gilliam's eccentric, offbeat, satirical ultra-dark comedy - a hybrid work, combining science-fiction, despairing ultra-black comedy and fantasy. It told about an oppressive and repressive, polluted, decaying future dystopian world of conformity, bureaucracy and Big Brother totalitarianism in a terrorist-threatened Londonesque metropolis:

  • the inventive opening scene ("Somewhere in the 20th Century") envisioning the stylized world of an alternative future with ductworks advertised on television by a slick salesman and a chorus: ("Central Services. We do the work, you do the pleasure. Hi, there. I want to talk to you about ducts. Do your ducts seem old-fashioned, out-of-date? Central Services' new duct designs are now available in hundreds of different colors to suit your individual tastes. Hurry now, while stocks last, to your nearest Central Services showroom. Designer colors to suit your demanding taste") - interrupted by a violent explosion
  • the main character was mild-mannered, low-ranking, bureaucratic civil servant Everyman Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) who worked in the dull regulatory Ministry of Information (MOI), jammed with paperwork and filled with endless pneumatic tubes and ill-functioning equipment
  • anti-terrorists, on Christmas Eve, 'dropped in' through the ceiling into the apartment of the innocent Archibald Buttle family, to falsely accuse and brutally assault them; this invasion was all due to a dead beetle - causing a print-out on an arrest record to read Buttle instead of Tuttle - the real terrorist: a renegade ("free-lance") maintenance man Archibald "Harry" Tuttle (Robert DeNiro); it was a perfect example of technological-automation gone wacky and oppressive bureaucratic muddling in the society's Ministry of Information, exemplified by this exchange afterwards: ("That is your receipt for your husband, thank you, and this is my receipt for your receipt"); Archibald Buttle was wrongly arrested and killed due to the mix-up
  • unexpectedly, free-lance repairman Harry Tuttle arrived to fix Sam's AC ducts, and explained how he hated paper-work: ("I couldn't stand the paperwork. Listen, this whole system of yours could be on fire, and I couldn't even turn on a kitchen tap without filling out a 27B-stroke6. Bloody paperwork... I came into this game for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light. Get in, get out, wherever there's trouble. A man alone. Now, they've got the whole country sectioned off. Can't make a move without a form")
  • Lowry investigated the case of mistaken identity (and the wrongful arrest and death of Buttle) and attempted to unravel it, by imagining or fantasizing himself as a lone heroic, silver-winged warrior knight-savior combating technological threats of the Machine Age
  • Sam experienced recurring dreams of soaring as a superhero with metal mechanical wings toward a mysterious doppelganger (Kim Greist) in the clouds - in real-life, a tough truck driver named Jill Layton (also Griest); he imagined rescuing-saving her from a giant, Samurai warrior
  • Jill's desire to help Mrs. Buttle sort out the error and find the real Mr. Buttle caused her to become regarded as a suspected terrorist and political dissident

Sam's Recurring Dream as Winged Superhero Warrior With Dream Girl Jill Layton

  • in an alley - Sam fantasized he was battling good and evil, in the form of baby-faced mutants and a giant Samurai Warrior, comprised of bureaucratic paraphernalia
  • the grotesque plastic surgery of Sam's narcissistic, high-ranking socialite mother Ida (Katherine Helmond), and another face-disfigured, bandaged client Mrs. Shirley Terrain (Barbara Hicks) who told Sam: ("My complication had a little complication, but Dr. Chapman says I'll soon be up and bounding about like a young gazelle"); both women were in a futile attempt to escape the "ravages of time" and stay young
  • the scene of the terrorist bombing in a high-class restaurant as patrons continued to consume their meals in the midst of dead bodies
  • in his new cramped office in the Ministry of Information Retrieval, Sam's battle with his moving desk
  • the self-deluded Sam became the subject of study by the totalitarian regime. His vain efforts to clear Jill's name ended when he was wrongly aligned with the rebellion, and his friend-turned-sinister MOI official Jack Lint (Michael Palin) arrested him for treason
  • in the downbeat conclusion, Sam was placed in confined detainment and was strapped in a torture chair in the middle of a circular platform within a domed building to be questioned and tortured by two torture agents as the spritely tune Brazil played; a white-coated technician wearing a pock-marked, smiling baby mask approached to administer torture - Sam recognized him as his friend-turned-sinister MOI official Jack Lint (Michael Palin), accompanied by Deputy Minister of Information Mr. Helpmann (Peter Vaughan)
  • meanwhile, Sam fantasized that he was being rescued by commandos led by Tuttle, and escaping and reuniting with Jill as they drove away from the city to a pastoral setting; however, his ideal perfect and illusory world and happy ending was revealed to be a self-deluding fantasy of wishful thinking - the green vista of a pastoral backdrop free of societal restrictions where he had escaped was covered over, and he was back in the domed torture chamber
  • the film's final lines came at the moment of his demise: (Mr. Helpmann: "He's got away from us, Jack." Jack Lint: "Afraid you're right, Mr. Helpmann. He's gone")
Jack Lint: "He's gone"
  • the final view of Sam as he was dying revealed that he was humming the film's theme song to himself (Ary Barroso's "Aquarela do Brasil" or "Brazil") - insanely lost in his inner world

Bureaucratic Error: Buttle, not Tuttle

Terrorist Tuttle (Robert De Niro)

Sam's Battle With Giant Samurai

Grotesque Plastic Surgeries

Restaurant Terrorist Bombing

Sam's Battle with His Desk in Cramped Office

Tuttle's Dream-Rescue of Sam

Sam's Dream of Escaping with Jill


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