Blindingly obtuse, excessively morose, the film is nevertheless dazzling in its inventive and massive sets and spectacular in its techniques...A powerful work that is both bleakly funny and breathtakingly assured.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
A ferociously creative 1985 black comedy filled with wild tonal contrasts, swarming details, and unfettered visual invention--every shot carries a charge of surprise and delight.
Brazil may not be the best film of the year, but it's a remarkable accomplishment for Mr. Gilliam, whose satirical and cautionary impulses work beautifully together. His film's ambitious visual style bears this out, combining grim, overpowering architecture with clever throwaway touches.
For all its occasional long-windedness and visual dazzle, Brazil may be the "Strangelove" of the 1980s.
This modern cult classic is a triumphantly dark comedy directed by one of the film world's truly original visionaries, Terry Gilliam. "Imagination" is this futuristic film’s middle name.
There is not a more daft, more original or haunting vision to be seen on American movie screens this year... A terrific movie has escaped the asylum without a lobotomy. The good guys, the few directors itching to make films away from the assembly line, won one for a change. [30 Dec 1985, p.84]
Perhaps it is not supposed to be clear; perhaps the movie's air of confusion is part of its paranoid vision. There are individual moments that create sharp images (shock troops drilling through a ceiling, De Niro wrestling with the almost obscene wiring and tubing inside a wall, the movie's obsession with bizarre duct work), but there seems to be no sure hand at the controls.
Brazil doesn't add up to much, not only because its cautionary tales are familiar, but because it has no real point of view, nothing urgent under its facile symbols. And the story winds on and on looking for a finish. Three or four times I reached for my coat prematurely. [17 Feb 1986, p.26]
It's a glimmering hunk of fractured brilliance riddled with Orwellian paranoia encased in a production design seemingly pieced together from the shared dreams of Franz Kakfa and Salvador Dali, and shot from cruelly low angles.