Brazil (1985) Movie Explained: Sam’s Fantasy Escape

Brazil ends with a twist, as it is revealed that Sam’s fantasy escape is actually a hallucination caused by his brain damage from Jack’s torture. Sam has lost his sanity and his connection with reality, but he has also gained his freedom and happiness in his fantasy world.

Brazil is a 1985 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam and co-written by Gilliam, Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown. The film is set in a retro-futuristic dystopia where a totalitarian government controls every aspect of life through a bureaucratic system of surveillance, propaganda and repression.

The film follows the protagonist, Sam Lowry, a low-level government employee who tries to escape his mundane and oppressive existence by retreating into his fantasies of rescuing a beautiful woman from danger. However, his fantasies become entangled with reality when he becomes involved in a case of mistaken identity that leads him to discover a rebel underground movement and the truth about the woman of his dreams.

Brazil is a dark comedy that satirizes the themes of bureaucracy, consumerism, conformity, totalitarianism and terrorism. It is widely regarded as one of the most original and influential films of the 1980s, as well as one of Gilliam’s best works.

The film also explores the concepts of identity, freedom, love and imagination in a bleak and absurd world. The film’s title refers to the song “Aquarela do Brasil” (Watercolor of Brazil) by Ary Barroso, which is used as a recurring motif throughout the film to contrast the exotic and romantic image of Brazil with the grim and dystopian reality of the film’s setting.

In this essay, we will analyze the film’s satire of bureaucracy and consumerism, as well as its critique of other aspects of society such as politics, religion, media and technology. We will also examine the film’s portrayal of the protagonist’s character development and his relationship with his fantasy world and the woman of his dreams.

Bureaucracy: A Dehumanizing and Oppressive Force

One of the main aspects of the film’s satire is its depiction of bureaucracy as a dehumanizing and oppressive force that stifles creativity, individuality and happiness. The film portrays a society where everything is regulated by paperwork, rules and procedures that are often illogical, contradictory and inefficient.

The film also shows how bureaucracy creates a culture of fear, corruption and violence, where people are constantly monitored, interrogated and tortured for minor infractions or errors.

The film’s protagonist, Sam Lowry, is a victim of this system, as he is trapped in a meaningless and frustrating job that he hates, but cannot quit or change due to his fear of losing his privileges and status. Sam works as an information retrieval officer at the Ministry of Information (M.O.I.), which is responsible for collecting, processing and storing data on every citizen. Sam’s job involves checking and correcting errors in the data system, which are often caused by faulty or outdated technology. Sam’s job is also dangerous, as he has to deal with hostile or desperate citizens who are affected by the errors or who try to evade or resist the system.

The job is also boring and repetitive, as Sam has to follow strict protocols and fill out endless forms and reports. Sam has no autonomy or creativity in his work, as he has to obey orders from his superiors and conform to the rules and regulations. Sam also has no satisfaction or fulfillment in his work, as he does not see any purpose or value in what he does. Sam’s work is also alienating, as he does not have any meaningful relationships or interactions with his colleagues or clients.

Escapism: Sam’s Fantasy World

Sam’s only escape from his reality is his fantasy world, where he imagines himself as a heroic warrior who fights against evil forces and rescues a beautiful woman from danger. Sam’s fantasy world is a stark contrast to his real world, as it is colorful, exciting, romantic and meaningful. Sam’s fantasy world is also a reflection of his subconscious desires and frustrations, as it expresses his longing for adventure, love and freedom.

Sam as a hero in his fantasy world

However, Sam’s fantasy world is also influenced by his real world, as it incorporates elements from his work and environment. For example, Sam’s fantasy world features giant metal samurai warriors that resemble the M.O.I.’s logo, flying ducts that resemble the M.O.I.’s infrastructure, and masked terrorists that resemble the M.O.I.’s enemies. Sam’s fantasy world also features symbols from his childhood and family, such as his father’s picture, his mother’s face and his toy plane. His fantasy world is influenced by media and consumerism, as it depicts him as a glamorous and wealthy hero who lives with his ideal woman.

Sam’s fantasy world is also a source of conflict and confusion for him, as it becomes entangled with reality when he becomes involved in a case of mistaken identity that leads him to discover a rebel underground movement and the truth about the woman of his dreams.

The case of mistaken identity is triggered by a typographical error in the data system, which results in the arrest and execution of an innocent man named Archibald Buttle instead of a suspected terrorist named Archibald Tuttle. Sam is assigned to correct the error and deliver a refund check to Buttle’s widow, Mrs. Buttle. However, Sam is also intrigued by a picture of a woman named Jill Layton, who witnessed Buttle’s arrest and tried to help him. Sam recognizes Jill as the woman from his fantasies and becomes obsessed with finding her.

Tuttle: The Vigilante Heating Engineer

Sam’s quest for Jill leads him to encounter Tuttle, who turns out to be a renegade heating engineer who sabotages the M.O.I.’s ducts and helps people fix their appliances without proper authorization.

Tuttle is also a member of a rebel underground movement that opposes the government and its system. Tuttle helps Sam escape from the M.O.I.’s agents who try to arrest him for his involvement in the error.

Sam and Jill in the Reality

Sam eventually finds Jill, who is a truck driver and a fugitive from the M.O.I. Sam tries to convince Jill that he loves her and that she is the woman from his fantasies. However, Jill is initially distrustful and hostile towards Sam, as she thinks he is an M.O.I. agent who wants to capture or kill her. Jill also does not share Sam’s romantic or idealistic views of their relationship, as she sees him as a naive and delusional man who lives in a fantasy world. Jill eventually agrees to help Sam escape from the M.O.I., but only after he promises to help her find out what happened to Buttle and his family.

Sam and Jill manage to evade the M.O.I.’s pursuit and reach his mother’s apartment. Sam and Jill finally consummate their relationship and declare their love for each other. However, their happiness is short-lived, as the M.O.I.’s agents raid the apartment and capture them. Sam is taken to a secret torture chamber, where he is interrogated and tortured by Jack Lint, who tries to break Sam’s spirit and make him confess his crimes and betray his friends. However, Sam resists Jack’s torture by retreating into his fantasy world, where he imagines himself as a hero who escapes from Jack’s clutches and rescues Jill from danger.

Brazil Ending Explained

The film ends with a twist, as it is revealed that Sam’s fantasy escape is actually a hallucination caused by his brain damage from Jack’s torture. Sam has lost his sanity and his connection with reality, but he has also gained his freedom and happiness in his fantasy world.

Sam being tortured by Jack in the end

The film’s final scene shows Sam smiling blissfully in his torture chair, while Jack and other M.O.I. officials look at him with pity and horror. The film’s final line is spoken by Mr. Helpmann, Sam’s boss and Jack’s superior, who says: “He’s got away from us, Jack.” The film then cuts to black and plays the song “Brazil” one last time.

Consumerism as Social Control and Manipulation

One of the film’s satire is its critique of consumerism as a form of social control and manipulation that creates false needs and desires in people.

The film depicts a society where people are constantly bombarded by advertisements, slogans and products that promise happiness, comfort and convenience, but often fail to deliver or cause more problems. The film also shows how consumerism creates a culture of conformity, superficiality and alienation, where people are obsessed with their appearance, possessions and status, but lack genuine relationships and emotions.

The film’s protagonist, Sam Lowry, is also influenced by this system, as he is pressured by his mother, his boss and his friends to conform to their expectations and aspirations. Sam’s mother, Mrs. Lowry, is a wealthy and influential socialite who is obsessed with her appearance and reputation. She constantly undergoes cosmetic surgery and treatments to look younger and more beautiful. She also tries to arrange a marriage for Sam with one of her friends’ daughters, Shirley, who is also obsessed with her appearance and status. She also tries to persuade Sam to accept a promotion at the M.O.I., which would increase his income and prestige.

Sam’s boss, Mr. Helpmann, is a powerful and corrupt politician who is the deputy minister of the M.O.I. He also tries to convince Sam to accept the promotion, which would make him more loyal and obedient to the system. He also tries to manipulate Sam by pretending to be his friend and mentor, while secretly plotting against him and using him as a scapegoat for the error. He also tries to bribe Sam by offering him gifts and favors.

Societal Aspects: Politics, Religion, Media, and Technology

The film’s satire also extends to other aspects of society, such as politics, religion, media and technology. The film portrays a society where the government is authoritarian and corrupt, using propaganda, censorship and terror to maintain its power and legitimacy. The film also shows how the government exploits the fear of terrorism to justify its actions and policies, while ignoring or covering up its own involvement in creating or supporting terrorist groups.

Sam is also affected by this system, as he is unaware or indifferent to the political situation and the suffering of others in the beginning. Sam does not question or challenge the government or its system, but rather accepts and obeys them. Sam also does not care or empathize with the victims of the government’s oppression or violence, such as Buttle and his family, or Jill and her friends. Sam’s fantasy world is also affected by politics, as he imagines himself as a rebel who fights against the government and its agents.

The film also depicts a society where religion is reduced to a form of ritualistic and superficial worship that serves the interests of the government and the elite. The film shows how religion is used to justify violence, oppression and inequality, while offering false hope and consolation to the masses. Sam is also influenced by this system, as he participates in religious ceremonies without any genuine faith or conviction. Sam’s fantasy world is also influenced by religion, as he imagines himself as a savior who performs miracles and ascends to heaven.

The film also portrays a society where media is controlled by the government and the corporations, and serves as a tool for propaganda, distraction and entertainment. The film shows how media shapes the public opinion, the collective memory and the cultural values of the society, while hiding or distorting the truth and reality. Sam is also affected by this system, as he consumes media without any critical thinking or curiosity.

The film also depicts a society where technology is advanced but unreliable and dysfunctional, often causing more harm than good. The film shows how technology creates a culture of dependency, inefficiency and waste, where people rely on machines and gadgets that often break down, malfunction or explode. The film shows how technology creates a culture of surveillance, control and violence, where people are constantly watched, tracked and targeted by cameras, sensors and weapons. Sam is also impacted by this system, as he works with and suffers from faulty and obsolete technology throughout the film.

Sam’s Character Development and Relationship with His Fantasy World and the Woman of His Dreams

Brazil also portrays the protagonist’s character development and his relationship with his fantasy world and the woman of his dreams.

The film shows how Sam evolves from a passive and conformist man who lives in a fantasy world to an active and rebellious man who tries to make his fantasy world a reality.

The film also shows how Sam Lowry’s fantasy world and the woman of his dreams represent his inner conflict and his search for identity, freedom, love and imagination.

Sam’s fantasy woman

At the beginning of the film, Sam is a passive and conformist man who lives in a fantasy world. He is unhappy and dissatisfied with his reality, but he does not do anything to change it. He does not have any goals or ambitions, but rather follows the expectations and pressures of others. He does not have any real relationships or emotions, but rather escapes into his fantasies of rescuing a beautiful woman from danger. He does not have any sense of identity or individuality, but rather blends in with the system and the society.

However, as the film progresses, Sam becomes an active and rebellious man who tries to make his fantasy world a reality. He is motivated and inspired by his encounter with Jill Layton. He becomes a fugitive and a hero who fights against the system and its agents.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Brazil is a dystopian satire of bureaucracy and consumerism that criticizes various aspects of society such as politics, religion, media and technology. The film is a dark comedy that uses absurdity, irony and exaggeration to expose the flaws and contradictions of the system and the human condition. The film is also a tragic romance that explores the themes of identity, freedom, love and imagination in a bleak and oppressive world. 

On that note, I think the article has become way too long, and I would like to stop it here. Thank you so much if you stayed till here. If you liked this article, you may also like other articles suggested below. Until next time, good bye!

Saurav B.

Saurav is the main content creator at Film Finesse's blog and YouTube. He has six years of experience as a content writer, including writing screenplays for short movies and videos. He has 5 years of experience as a research manager, along with a degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering.