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SYFY WIRE Terry Gilliam

The horrors of ‘Brazil’ are more applicable now than ever, and they're all streaming on Peacock

Love does not conquer all. 

By Brian Silliman
Katherine Helmond Brazil

Things have not improved since 1985. Terry Gilliam’s haunting and powerful Brazil (currently available on Peacock) has always been prophetic. The proper version, free of meddling from idiotic suits, cements the darkness within. It may have first come out in 1985, but when watched in 2023, it plays out like a warning that nobody listened to. It's no wonder that the powers that be wanted the ending sanitized. Metaphorically (and sometimes rather literally), our world has become the terrifying world of this movie.

The movie is filled with tubes. Tubes everywhere, tubes akimbo. Tubes, pipes, cramped spaces, and more tubes. Neo-analog technology has run amok, and unless we’re not looking in the right places, that’s not the norm for us in 2023. We don’t primarily use tiny screens that we’re only able to see because we put more screens in front of it.

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We may not see the tubes, but they are there. If Wifi signals and connections were visible, then it would be all tubes all the time. Tubes, wires, and pipes that we cannot see keep us connected to all kinds of crap that we don’t need. What else are these invisible connections doing? Not even the Department of Information knows everything.

We may not need plentiful magnifying screens to see one tiny one, but we do have many screens in our lives. This is not a new thought. Televisions, computers, and little devices that we carry around with us that we never stop looking at... our lives are overcome with screens.

Connections run rampant, but they have to be proper and sanctioned. In the movie, a man named Tuttle (Robert De Niro) is on the run because he’s a Robin Hood of heat fixing. That’s not what the state wants. They want Central Services to “help” you, which means a visit from Bob Hoskins. Not only will he not help, he’ll make the problem worse. Subscribe to Twitter Blue, courtesy of Central Services, and maybe he'll do something. 

The Department of Information proves to be a department of misinformation, as the truth has been weaponized, and if there is a mistake (such as the inciting incident in the movie), the state will cover it up and kill people rather than admit they are at fault. There’s no way that a fly could cause trouble for a government this powerful! Don't question it. Don't question anything. Shut up and look at that screen. 

Protagonist Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) works for the system. He is a part of it before it turns against him. He is complicit, and we can identify with him because we're complicit as well. If we’re not carrying out a crusade against paperwork, then we’re a part of the problem. That may be a stretch, but the movie inspires bozo lines of thought such as this. 

Thanks to misinformation run rampant, who can people trust? Hubba hubba hubba, money money money, who do they trust? No one. Can Sam Lowry trust his "best friend" Jack Lint (Michael Palin)? He can't, and he discovers this much too late. Friendship is cheap. Everyone does what most of us (excluding front line workers and the like) did during the pandemic, when a million different forms of purposeful misinformation came flooding through the tubes everyday. They lose themselves in fantasy while the lies keep rolling in.

Pretend that you aren’t aging, and have your face stretched yet again by Jim Broadbent. You can trust him, he’s a dystopian plastic surgeon and he was really good in Iris. Dream of flying through the clouds and saving damsels, like Lowry does. Watch The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, also directed by Gilliam. Buy something, it’s good for the economy. Stream a new show. (Brazil is streaming on Peacock right now!)

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If the studio morons had their way, then the movie would end with “love” conquering all of this horror. After Lowry becomes an enemy of the state, he manages to escape torture and get away with his radical love (Kim Greist). De Niro is taken down by… flying papers… but who cares. Love wins!

That was never Gilliam’s ending. It is a bulls*** safe ending, courtesy of the Department of Information. All of it turns out to be a dream. When we cut back to reality, the true ending of Brazil becomes the most haunting part of it.

Love does not win, and it certainly does not conquer all. It conquers jack s***. Lowry never leaves the torture room. Jack doesn’t help him, he’s actually pissed off at him for the spot of bother. Lowry is deemed a lost cause, and he ends the movie strapped in a chair. As he dreams of impossible escape, he hums the tune “Aquaria do Brasil,” which is the only thing that “Brazil” has to do with the movie. He will likely hum this comforting little tune to the bitter end. It is a pitiful defiance, but it may also be a dream of an idealized place where there are no pipes, no technology, and a few less lies. A place where he can escape with his lady love. What else can Sam Lowry do? He's trapped in the bowels of a hellhole designed by the darkest parts of Franz Kafka's mind. 

Sam is giving in to misinformation himself, because just like his flying knight dreams, “Brazil” is an ideal. It’s not the truth. In the end, delusion is all that he has left. That’s one dark interpretation of what dreams are, isn’t it?

The system disposes of him when he displays agency. A little true humanity comes out, and it’s torture time. You’re either a full cog in the machine, or you’re of no use. Someone like him is expendable. Everyone in the movie is expendable, except for the rich. They’re doing just fine.

Love conquers all? Not in this movie, and not in 2023. Thanks to the Department of Information, that word has become overused to the point where it has lost all meaning. It's a fantasy on par with escaping to Brazil with Ana de Armas. 

It’s okay. Don’t worry about it. Central Services is on it. They didn’t kill someone by mistake and cover for it by killing more people, who would do that? We at the Department of Information are thinking of you. Watch that thing. Dream about flying. Bleach is good for you! Stretch your face. Connect to the local wifi and take advantage of these deals! Give a mealy-mouthed “self made genius” liar some of your money to reward him for being utterly incompetent. This account may or may not be notable. Stream “content” that is coming out of your giant tubes right now. Buttle or Tuttle? Who cares?!

The alternative is torture. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Like, subscribe, and stream. Check your phone.

Brazil is streaming on Peacock right now.