From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Brazil is a 1985 film directed by Terry Gilliam. It was written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard and stars Jonathan Pryce. The film also features Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm. John Scalzi's Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies describes the film as a "dystopian satire".
The film centers on Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce), a young man trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living a life in a small apartment, set in a dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines. Brazil's bureaucratic, totalitarian government is reminiscent of the government depicted in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, except that it has a buffoonish, slap-stick quality, and lacks any kind of figurehead.
Jack Mathews, movie critic and author of The Battle of Brazil (1987), characterized the film as "satirizing the bureaucratic, largely dysfunctional industrial world that had been driving [Gilliam] crazy all his life." Though a success in Europe, the film flopped upon initial release in North America, even with the extra publicity of the fight with the studio. It has since become an important cult film.