The Brazil FAQ, Section B
by David S. Cowen
| BRAZIL Frequently Asked Questions
Copyright 1994-1998 David S. Cowen
Release 1.4, Last-modified: 1998/7/17
3. How many different versions of BRAZIL have been released?
Some would argue that too many have. At this point in time, four
different versions have been released on the laserdisc format alone
(not counting variations in language or letterboxing), and there
have been minor changes between the theatrical and video releases.
They are as follows:
(ET) The Fox European theatrical release
(AT) The American 132 minute theatrical and video release
(EV) The original European/Japanese video/laserdisc release
(FV) The "Final director's cut" of the film on the Criterion
Collection laserdisc box set, DVD and some video releases.
(SE) The Sheinberg edit, also known as the "Love Conquers all"
The following is a description of the differences between each version
and the other versions. Which is the "real" BRAZIL? You
be the judge.
The European Theatrical
Release (ET) contains many items not in the
American Theatrical and Video release (AT). These are:
The film opens with the
time and location credits over a black
background, not over the clouds present in the AT release.
Buttle's daughter inquires as to how Father Christmas will
come if they don't have a chimney.
A brief scene involving Sam and his mother Ida entering the
restaurant where they meet Mrs. Terrain and Shirley. They
have to pass through a metal detector in order to gain
entrance, and Ida's present to Sam (one of the "Executive
Decision Makers", seen later in the movie) sets off the alarm.
In the restaurant, there is extra dialogue about how plastic
surgery through an acid method is like a "delicate Rembrandt
After saying "Here's looking at you", there is an extended
shot of Sam driving to Shangri-La towers.
In the European Theatrical release, the Samurai sequence is one
long sequence (with some additional footage), whereas in the
American version it is divided into three separate sequences.
Extra footage of Warren telling Sam to "get a new suit".
There is a brief sequence in Jack Lint's office where Sam
nearly enters the torture chamber, but is yelled at by Jack's
secretary to use the "other door".
Sam nearly bumps into Lime, wearing a cast, at Information
Retrieval. Line is wearing the cast after being injured in
a "desk tug of war" earlier in the film.
There is a small amount of footage of Spoor answering the phone
in Sam's apartment as saying "It's for you," then hanging
and indicating that they've requisitioned the apartment.
An "Interrogation" scene, where Sam is charged with
the violations of the law he committed throughout the film,
including "wasting Ministry time and paper."
A "Father Christmas" scene where Helpmann visits Sam
his booking, Helpmann is dressed as Santa Claus. Among other
things, Helpmann informs Sam that Jill Layton has been killed...
The film ends starkly in the torture chamber, with no clouds
surrounding Sam as he hums Brazil.
The European/Japan Video release (EV) adds the following scene not
present in some theatrical prints of the European Theatrical release
(ET), and that were never present in the American AT release:
A scene where Sam and Jill
lie in bed after the implied
consummation of their relationship. Jill has taken off the
wig she was wearing in the scene before, and has a pink bow
tied around her naked body. She says to Sam: "Something
for an executive?" and he unties her.
The American Theatrical/Video
Release (AT) adds a few things not found in the European Releases
(ET & EV):
There are clouds that open and close the film in the American
Release. Some of the footage of these clouds was extraneous
footage from _The Never Ending Story_.
After watching Mrs. Lowry's first plastic surgery treatment,
Sam exclaims "My god, it works!"
The "Final director's cut" (FV) is the European/Japan
Video release (EV), with a few changes:
The film begins with clouds under the titles, like the American
version, yet it ends with the original stark ending without
clouds from the EV version.
A cut while Mrs. Terrain is talking about the "delicate Rembrandt
etchings" is corrected to be less obvious.
There is extra footage before Spoor answers the phone in Sam's
The Sheinberg Edit (the "Love
Conquers All" version") makes a number of very major changes
to all of the above versions:
" After the AT cloud
intro and the Central Services ad, the movie shifts to a highly
edited version of the restaurant sequence. After the explosion,
the Brazil logo appears.
" Man in white labcoat, instead of seeing interview with
Helpmann, sees an "Arrest and detainment" broadcast
regarding Tuttle. Footage of eye-level view as the man in the
white lab coat stands on the file cabinet.
" Shot of nameplate on Buttle's door before storm trooper
Buttle and family in his apartment.
" Chimney comment, as per European version, shown right before
"bust". "Psycho" strings missing from soundtrack
One of the storm troopers issues a sarcastic "Happy Holidays"
line after the receipts are signed.
" Music missing from "gunshot" scene. Extra shot
of clerks watching gunfight while Kurtzmann calls Lowry. Kurtzman
calls up a different part of the movie than in any other release
(a man on a horse). Brief edit of clerks watching movie before
Kurtzman leaves office. Kurtzman stutters before calling "Has
anyone seen Sam Lowry?"
" An iris shot of Sam's head to indicate dream sequence before
going into the sequence where he flies in the clouds. Cloud sequence
is surrounded by a big, opaque border as though to say "This
is a dream! Make no mistake!"
" Shots in soggy toast breakfast sequence rearranged.
" Music as Sam enters information retrieval different, with
an emphasis on the harp line. Shots, again, are rearranged. No
police officer showing nuns a 9mm machine gun. Christmas muzak
is emphasized. Dialogue between Sam and Jack is more stunted and
abrupt. Sam sees his "dream girl" on the video screen,
and Jack stutters as he notices that something is wrong. Fade
to commercial after sequence.
" Dialogue between Sam and Kurtzmann is truncated. Sam spills
his tea more graphically on the paper indicating he's been promoted.
" Music and some foley work is missing from "mother's
surgery" scene. The line "My god it works" present
in the American version is changed to a more emphatic "My
GOSH it works!"
" The edit skips over restaurant and dream sequences to Sam
waking up late at night with the heating problem. Music cues from
truck "chase" sequence play over "This has not
been a recording" message. Sam hangs up the phone with an
emphatic "Oh, damn!" Harry Tuttle theme plays over Harry
Tuttle's entrance. Tuttle says to Lowry, "There aren't many
like you left" after scaring off Spoor and Dowser. Instead
of humming when asked why he's wanted, Tuttle gives the response
"Setting a bad example. Ya know, little guys like us don't
usually fight back. Fight back, Sam. We all gotta fight back."
Fade to commercial after Tuttle slides down the rope.
" Ridiculous muzak-style music over second clerk pool scene.
Kurtzmann shows much more apathy towards situation with Buttle's
refund check. No Messerschmidt scene as Sam drives through the
" In the sequence where he returns the check to Mrs. Buttle,
Sam seems genuinely bewildered by Mrs. Buttle's reactions, and
doesn't seem to know anything about Buttle's death. Instead of
a grueling "What have you done with his body sequence,"
Mrs. Buttle tears up some newspaper. Cuts straight from Sam spotting
Jill in the above flat to him exiting the Shangorilla Towers.
Sam appears to say "Judas Priest!" as the Messerschmidt
falls on the blocks.
" Film cuts directly to Sam calling up Jill's record. then
shows Sam taking the transport home, skipping all dream sequences...
as well as the singing telegram girl. Sam basically leaves work,
takes the transport to his mother's apartment, and joins the party.
Sam does not see a vision of Mrs. Buttle et al in mirror at party.
Sam doesn't meet Shirley at the party, and it goes straight to
the "false ears" joke.
" Film cuts straight from helping Mr. helpmann to the elevator
in information retrieval. Time is compressed after Sam steps out
of the elevator.
" There is additional "cute" footage between Jill
and Sam as they drive in the truck. "Where are you taking
me?" she asks.
" When Sam visits Jack Lint's office, Lint's daughter Holly
is nowhere to be seen (this is footage from an earlier take of
this scene, which was re-done).
" After Sam blows up the Ministry of Information, a piece
of paper flutters down. It's got a wanted message for Sam on it.
" In the "something for an executive" scene, the
camera is panned strategically to show less of Jill's backside.
" At the end of the film, Jill is seen walking into the house
in the valley, and looks at Sam, who is dreaming. He dreams about
Jill and himself soaring through the heavens. The film cuts straight
to clouds over the credits.
4. How do I get the version
of BRAZIL I want to see (on laserdisc and DVD)?
If you're using a standard VCR and live in North America, you're
out of luck. The VHS and Beta versions of Brazil feature only
Gilliam's 132-minute theatrical release. However, various versions
of Gilliam's BRAZIL are available on laserdisc and DVD.
On Wednesday, October 3rd, 1996 the Voyager company proudly released
the Criterion BRAZIL to the laserdisc-viewing public. This set is
essential viewing for all BRAZIL fans. In addition to a new digital
transfer of the film, it contains the "Final director's cut"
(FV) of the film, as well as the Sheinberg "Love Conquers All"
edit. It also contains:
" Video interviews with
Gilliam, Charles McKeown, Michael Kamen, and most of the other
players in the Brazil saga.]
" A documentary by Jack Mathews, author of _The Battle of
" A documentary "What is Brazil"?
" Production notebooks and stills.
" Analysis of the various drafts of BRAZIL's scripts.
" Storyboards of unfilmed dream sequences.
" Commentary by Terry Gilliam throughout the film Brazil
This 10-sided CAV set is a remarkable
compendium of the various BRAZILs, and is well worth its $149 MSRP.
Criterion has also released a lower-cost CLV version of the film
(the FV with Director's Commentary only -- no supplements) for $49.
Orders for these laserdisc versions of BRAZIL can be made through
Criterion's web site, at http://www.criterionco.com. One of the
interesting codas regarding Brazil is the fact that Universal/MCA
Home Video delayed the release of the Criterion Brazil set for years.
After Voyager (owner of the Criterion Collection) had made preliminary
arrangements to obtain the rights to BRAZIL, they published an listing
in their 1993 catalogue -- resulting in Universal/MCA pulling Voyager's
rights. Only after the theatrical success of Gilliam's 12 MONKEYS
did Universal feel comfortable selling the rights to BRAZIL to Voyager
again. It was worth the wait: originally slated to have 6 sides
of information, the Criterion BRAZIL set ballooned to its full 10-sided
BRAZIL is available in its American
Theatrical Release (AT) format on laserdisc from MCA Home Video,
#40171. This disc is no longer out of print, and is common in stores.
A Japanese laserdisc pressing
of BRAZIL contains a transfer of the European cut of BRAZIL from
the European EV PAL masters on Warner Home Video Japan. This version
was in Dolby Surround (opposed to MCA's matrixed surround), and
was available in both letterbox and full-screen versions. This
disc is currently out of print. Do not ask the author of the FAQ
where you can obtain a copy of this disc, as he does not know
any sources who can still obtain this disc. More recently, a Japanese
version of BRAZIL featuring Gilliam's "final cut" has
appeared, but does not feature the commentary or supplements found
on the Criterion set.
Universal/MCA Home Video has released the "final cut"
of Gilliam's film on DVD, #20168. The packaging of the Brazil
DVD indicates that the running time is 132 minutes, which is incorrect;
it is the full-length (FV) version. Regrettably, the Universal
DVD does not feature any of the supplements of the Criterion set,
replacing them with a revisionist "Production Notes"
section which doesn't so much as mention Gilliam's fight with
Universal (the Criterion set, on the other hand, devotes over
two hours to this important background information).
The version of Brazil currently available for purchase in the UK
is now Gilliam's "final cut" (FV), and is presented in
the widescreen format. Previously, the version available in the
UK was the EV version.
5. What is the title BRAZIL
supposed to mean?
Certainly BRAZIL is an enigmatic title for a movie that seems to
have nothing to do with the country of Brazil. One of the drafts
of the screenplay was entitled _The Ministry of Torture, or Brazil,
or How I Learned to Live with the System -- So Far_, and Gilliam
also considered calling his screenplay 1984 1/2. Many of the drafts
appear to have simply been titled "The Ministry." In the
book _The Battle of Brazil_, Gilliam explains where the inspiration
stemmed from, while he was in Port Talbot, Wales:
"Port Talbot is a steel
town, where everything is covered with gray iron ore dust. Even
the beach is completely littered with dust, its just black. The
sun was setting, and it was quite beautiful. The contrast was extraordinary,
I had this image of a guy sitting there on this dingy beach with
a portable radio, tuning in these strange Latin escapist songs like
'Brazil.' The music transported him somehow and made his world less
Sid Sheinberg didn't like the
title, and had the Universal staff submit suggestions for a new
title. These suggestions included the titles:
If Osmosis, Who Are You?
Some Day Soon
Vortex Day Dreams and Night Tripper
What a Future! Litterbugs
The Works Skylight City
You Show Me Your Dream... Access
Arresting Developments Nude Descending Bathroom Scale
Lords of the Files Dreamscape
The Staplegunners Progress
Forever More The Right to Bear Arms
Explanada Fortunata Is Not My Real Name All Too Soon
Chaos Where Were We?
Disconnected Parties Blank/Blank
Erotic Shadow Time
Maelstrom Forces of Darkness
The Man in the Custom Tailored T-shirt Fold, Spindle, Mutilate
Can't Anybody Here Play the Cymbals? Sign on High
The Ball Bearing Electro Memory Circuit Buster
This Escalator Doesn't Stop At Your Station
Gnu Yak, Gnu Yak, and Other Bestial Places.
6. How does BRAZIL fit in
with Gilliam's other movies?
In the promotion of the film THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN,
Terry Gilliam openly referred to that film as the third in his trilogy
of films, which began with TIME BANDITS and continued with BRAZIL.
Later, Gilliam has been quoted in saying that calling the three
a trilogy was just him being "pretentious".
Do the three form a trilogy?
They certainly seem to: _The Battle of Brazil_ explains that Gilliam's
trilogy is about the ages of man, and the subordination of magic
to realism. TIME BANDITS was part one, about the fantasist as a
child. BRAZIL was part two, the fantasist as a young man, and BARON
MUNCHAUSEN closes the series with its story about an old man who,
through the innocence and open mindedness of a small girl, regains
his belief in magic. Both TIME BANDITS and BRAZIL have bleak endings,
but BARON MUNCHAUSEN shows the final triumph of this sort of magic
through fantasy, as Munchausen circumvents the reality of his death
in his own tall tales, achieving immortality through his storytelling.
Considering that Gilliam was
on record calling BARON MUNCHAUSEN the third in the trilogy before
production on MUNCHAUSEN began, it is definite that even if Gilliam
was not thinking of making a trilogy as he wrote and filmed TIME
BANDITS and BRAZIL, he certainly considered them that at the end,
and made BARON MUNCHAUSEN with that in mind.
Gilliam often compares himself
with the protagonists in his films, and the main characters in TIME
BANDITS, BRAZIL and MUNCHAUSEN can all be considered representations
of Gilliam himself during various stages of his life. Both BRAZIL
and MUNCHAUSEN's plots and themes echo the events surrounding the
making of those films, so at the very least the films can be viewed
as a loose cinematic interpretation of however Terry Gilliam was
feeling at the stage in his life when he wrote those films. Neither
of the later films, THE FISHER KING or 12 MONKEYS were written by
Terry Gilliam, and while they continue with his common theme of
merging fantasy with reality (and the difficulty in determining
which of the two is more truthful), they cannot be considered the
autobiographical statements that his previous three films appear
Most recently, Gilliam has co-written
and filmed Hunter S. Thompson's FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS and
is still working on THE DEFECTIVE DETECTIVE.
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