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Terry Gilliam's Brazil 125

The great thing about new media is the ability to bend the rules. Hundreds of movies that have been around for years are being released on DVD with new material. So, we get to take some of our favorite movies and 'review' them in their new format. This particular film is a wonderful excuse. 'Read More' for a review of Terry Gilliam's Brazil by Jamie and Emmett.

Brazil is a beautiful picture about the hacker ethic.

The protagonist, Sam Lowry, is trapped in an evil system, a world of senseless, crushing bureaucracy interrupted only by human vanity, sloth, impatience, and idiocy. The plot is too convoluted to explain (and a lot more fun to watch) -- it'll suffice to say that Sam's life is turned upside-down when a bug in the system brings him to meet a woman he falls obsessively in love with.

One of the genius visions of this film is its depiction of the crazy patchwork of technology that runs our civilization. Ducts are everywhere; wires and cables lurk behind every wall and make frequent appearances. The incongruous combination of bizarrely unusable computers, pneumatic tubes, and even the retro-style elevators is a modernized version of a Kafka fever-dream.

This system, presumably built by Central Services (a government or a corporation? it could be either), is constantly on the verge of falling apart. Nobody but the competent but unambitious Sam seems to know how to operate a computer. The breakfast machine pours the coffee onto the burnt toast. And the telephones should be Exhibit A in a gallery of poor user-interface design. Meanwhile, Central Services runs ads telling us to upgrade our "out of date ducts" with new designer colors. It's a hilarious parody of the situation that most of us find ourselves in today, with our Rube Goldberg, barely-functioning technology constructed by colossal, faceless bureaucracies -- moreso now than in 1985 when the film was made.

But it's not just forms, malfunction, and evil. The one hero of the film is the hacker. Robert de Niro plays the untouchable outlaw Harry Tuttle, who intercepts Sam's call for help with his broken air conditioner, and comes to fix it. He used to work with Central Services but now works freelance, for the love of the job.

This is a real hacker, even the archetype of the hacker. I'm not sure how it happened -- the writer/director, TerryGilliam, wasn't in tune with the computer underground that I know of -- but the character, in a few short minutes onscreen, captures the universal essence of hacking.

Tuttle isn't the dangerous criminal that the media wants to pin the word "hacker" on even to this day; he doesn't break things or work to disable the system. Much like the real-world media demonization of "hackers" as electronic graffiti-artists and ping-flooders, the movie's Central Services blames terrorists for the bombings which recur throughout the film. We're led to believe these may be staged incidents, or at least unorganized -- one character asks another near the end: "have you ever seen a real terrorist?"

But neither is Tuttle a squeaky-clean navel-gazer. Some people want to sanitize the word "hacker" (usually the same people who noisily point out the distinction between "hacker" and "cracker"). Tuttle's work is illegal; he wears black, defends himself with a gun, and escapes under cover of darkness.

It's too easy to forget that, back in the day, the only way for a brilliant, motivated computer geek to learn about computers was to work the system at a more or less unauthorized level. To name just one example, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the founders of the personal computer revolution, built illegal blue boxes and sold them. I wish someone had had a camera at the moment when the phone system first shed its secrets to them -- when they first got a taste of look at this huge computer system. Look what it can do.

The hacker ethic that played such a large part in advancing computer science, building gcc, building Linux, indeed building the world's computer systems and engineering the biggest peaceful economic boom in history, is more than just a thirst for knowledge about computers. It's the obsessive belief that knowledge exists to be shared, that helping someone by making their computer run better (or their air conditioner) is one of life's joys, and that the rules that prevent sharing and helping exist to be broken.

And poor Sam Lowry pays the price for the hacker's work, for his fixing something without authorization. When I see this movie, I can't help but think of Randal Schwartz, prosecuted vigorously by Intel for running a diagnostic with the best of intentions, but without the proper paperwork. We live in a world where insane things like that can and do happen.

Somehow, 15 years ago, Terry Gilliam got in his head the same glimpse of underlying reality that Woz got when he learned about how the phone system works -- and it's all on film. The hero is the one who repeats the Central Services slogan, "We're all in this together," and makes it unironic (or at least differently ironic). The hero is the one who knows how to fix things, and fixes them -- despite not being "authorized." The evil is the paperwork we construct around ourselves, the forms and regulations that take the place of people freely helping each other. Everyone into open source should see this film.

Poor Sam Lowry's plight becomes a real-life horror for Brazil director Terry Gilliam, who faced red tape and monolithic Hollywood studios to release his picture. In addition to the full-length film with director's commentary, the three-DVD set of Brazil also includes the short film The Battle of Brazil, which chronicles Gilliam's fight to release the film he created. The third DVD consists of the 'Love Conquers All' version of Brazil, a 90-minute version that was edited down from the original picture by Sid Sheinberg and his team of hack-and-slash artists at Universal. Terry Gilliam refers to this movie as 'Sid Sheinberg's Brazil,' and it's just plain horrible. The 'Love Conquers All' version is a standing memorial to all films that have been cut to pieces by the studios. This version of Brazil was only released to the television market, and was previously unavailable to the public on VHS.

Terry Gilliam was a hacker in his own right. After a long, involved battle over release rights, he promised Universal that he would only show clips of the film to film students in California, and they capitulated and let him show brief passages from the film. In the end, he only showed one clip. It was only two hours and twenty minutes long. In other words, the whole thing.

The full DVD set of Brazil is a massive package of content, from film commentary to press photos to trailers to alternate versions of the film. Surprise, surprise, it's part of the Criterion Collection of films, which also gave us fantastic DVD versions of Robocop, Time Bandits, and Monty Python's Life of Brian. Here are the contents (as listed by the film packaging):

Disc One
New pristine widescreen transfer of Terry Gilliam's 142-minute final cut
Remastered Dolby stereo surround soundtrack
Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam
English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired

Disc Two
What is Brazil?, Rob Hedden's 30-minute on-set documentary
The Battle of Brazil: A Video History, an original 60-minute Criterion documentary by Jack Mathews
Screenwriters Tom Stoppard and Charles McKeown on the script
Production designer Norman Garwood on the look of Brazil
Costume designer James Acheson on the couture of fantasy and fascism
Storyboards for Gilliam's original dream sequences, many of which didn't make it into the film
Composer Michael Kamen unveils the sources of his score
A study of the special effects includes raw footage of unfinished effects
Theatrical trailer, plus publicity and production stills

Disc Three
The 94-minute cut of Brazil includes all of the changes that Gilliam refused to make, from the alternate opening to the controversial happy ending
Audio commentary by Gilliam expert David Morgan.

This three-DVD set is a lot of material. I ended up taking two days to get through all of it, and every second of it is worth it. From the beautiful new transfer of Brazil to the interviews and specials to the hacked-up 90-minute version of the film, the set stays consistent in packaging and iconography, and you'll be humming the main theme for a week. Brazil is a fantastic film, and the Criterion Collection DVD set does it justice.

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Terry Gilliam's Brazil

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Being a hacker today doesn't mean you'd be a cowboy in the 1800's. It means you'd be the one the cowboys would be beating up. You know assembly, C, perl, who cares. Doesn't make you a cowboy. Cowboy work is men's work. But you're a 17th level Paladin and that's all that counts, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Too busy to login to say this, but I wanted to toss it out there... I didn't write anything about the movie itself; that was Jamie. I wrote about the DVD's themselves, and Terry Gilliam's fight to get it released.


  • by volsung ( 378 )
    Segmentation fault
  • Let's see, there's...





    A Clockwork Orange

    SLC Punks

    Until the End of the World


    And, wouldn't you know it, I'm spacing some other very key ones... Doh!

  • I once read somewhere that while it wasn't intended, the films "Time Bandits", "Brazil", and "12 Monkeys" form an odd trilogy of movies produced by Terry, representing three phases of life. "Time Bandits" as childhood, "Brazil" as middle age, and "12 Monkeys" as old age. Sure, there's no common thread to them, and I'm sure Terry wasn't planning such, but when you think about it, there's something there.

    In any case, I definitely need to rewatch Brazil; I saw it the first and only time on SciFi recently, and it must've been a horribly bad edit or something as I got nothing out of it save for weirdness. But every once I've talked to says it's a great metaphorical piece.

  • Yes, I'm sure Terry Gillaim only wants people to think about his movie in the Official Prescribed Way. If you prefer, you could read the review from Blockbuster [].


  • Sure, but that's obvious to any viewer of the film, and saying it again is uninteresting. The hacker angle is any interesting way to think about it, even if it isn't necessarily the most typical reading.

    The review doesn't say that Gilliam set out to make a movie about hackers (in fact, it says that he didn't). It just remarks on the interesting relation between the -- yes -- Orwellian and Kafkaesque aspects of the film and the hacker ethos. You may disagree; if so, say why. Don't be so quick to dismiss the whole thing.


  • It's not a news story, it's a review. Hello.


  • Yes really.

    This is a real hacker, even the archetype of the hacker. I'm not sure how it happened -- the writer/director, Terry Gilliam, wasn't in tune with the computer underground that I know of -- but the character, in a few short minutes onscreen, captures the universal essence of hacking.

    They don't say that it is primarily about the hacker ethic or even that it was meant to be -- just that it is.


  • The previously available laserdisc boxed set had all of this material. If I recall correctly, there are four discs in the set.
  • I got given this box as a gift last year, and it's one of the best examples of what you can do with all that extra storage and interactivity. Admittedly, it cheats by using 3 discs, but there is so much stuff here! I've been a fan of the movie since I saw it not long after it's release, and this was the first time I'd seen the Studio's version and a full documentary of the whole saga.
    This should show all those DVD production people that try to claim 'chapter menu' as a Special Feature on the back of the box. *this* is the special stuff.
  • I just thought it'd be neat to point out that in the first issue of the LP News that I ever got, they had their list of the top ten libertarian movies, and Brazil was #1. It shows the beauty of liberty by, of course, showing its opposite: total authority. Having your AC fixed by a freelance handyman is a crime, for crying out loud! People are taken from their homes in black bags in the middle of the night to be interrogated and tortured, and CHARGED for it, to boot!


  • Actually I like the ideas put forth in this review, even if it's clearly from a "hacker" perspective. It's refreshing to see people bring their "ethos" to bear on the media of the day.

    Having said that, I'd like it just as much if you, mochaone, would also give your perspective. While it's easy to snipe the target as you've done, it's a much harder thing to create the target. Stop complaining about how we "need to get out more and broaden your horizons" and give us something to do it with.

  • Also, first person voice-over narration is a somewhat standard element in film noir detective movies.

    Absolutely! The thread that tied Deckard to Marlowe and Spade was lost in the director's cut, to its detriment, IMHO. It has nothing to do with "dumbing things down" -- the original Chandler and Hammett novels which the noirs were based on were written in the first person.
  • by ab ( 5715 )
    It's exactly the same as the Criterion LaserDisc. That's cool and all, but I'm not going to give them much credit for copying it to a new format.

    I'm even less interested in reading a belated review of the disc here, months after it came out DVD and years after the LD.

    Next time, review something new.
  • Okay, I've actually watched the film now... so I'm qualified to comment. I liked Brazil... but not in the way the /. review sold it.

    Definately features a Hacker ala Cowboy persona in Tuttle's character... but... I think the movie is more focused on the angst of the unfulfilled dreamer. The message of the movie is about the sheer horror of the dreamer awaking in a world just slightly beyond his control, dangling his dreams before him... snatching them away... over and over again... until finally the dreamer is beaten down.

    The dreamer escapes in his dreams when he can't find an avenue to make them reality. Maybe this is why so many geniuses who can never quite achieve their dreams end their lives in madness and tragedy. Reality bites.

    I think this movie really explains why some of us stay up late at night... poking at our keyboards... pushing ourselves... while others lock themselves up in basements trying to become a level 17 paladin... forsaking reality. Each is a different response to the same pressure Lowry has. A world that makes no plain path for achieving happiness... will often drive a man to one form of madness or another.

    okay, I'm done... now flame me.

    - // Zarf //
  • WARNING: Spoilers Below...

    I've thought about that too, and I think that if you look at Brazil from one angle (26 degrees I believe), that's true. But one of the wonderful things about Brazil is that there are ten thousand ways of interpreting it. Terry Gilliam managed to create a film that at the same time has infinite detail and no detail at all. It's kind of zen, now that I think of it.

    He gives so much detail, and so much information, but then there are pieces of the puzzle that are so open-ended that you can change the entire view of the movie just by changing your assumptions.

    There are some people who never understood that Sam was lobotomized at the end. Some people thought he was dreaming, some people thought he was dead.

    Every time I watch Brazil (and yes I own the Criterion Edition) I get a different idea about certain plot aspects, and I notice a lot more subtle things. Another great thing Terry Gilliam does is what he calls the Hamster Factor. He'll spend the better part of a day making sure some minute detail or small quirk is present in a shot that may last only three seconds on film.

    Every time you watch a Terry Gilliam film you can watch and look for those little background things, and sometimes they're funnier than what's going on in the foreground.

    Anyway, I'm rambling. But Brazil is definately one of my favorite movies ever, and Terry Gilliam is one of my idols.


    • _____

    • ToiletDuk (58% Slashdot Pure)
  • I agree with you about this in relation to the 'hacker ethic', but....

    "Well, this was an interesting review of a fifteen year old film. "

    Yes, classic sci-fi, and a recent (five or six months ago) new release of the special edition on DVD. You seem to forget that there is a Star Wars topic in this forum, and the Bill Gates icon has Borg implants. This review DOES belong here.

  • I have seen him play Iago in Othello aside Anthony Hopkins. A brilliant and versatile actor is Bob Hoskins.

  • Though I may be a liitle curious, I have little need to see the 'happy-ending' version of this film. Brazil stands as my all time favorite film. One would be pleased to learn that the 'director's cut' had made irt to release rather than the one that the studio and producers wanted in the theaters. As a fan of this film, I am happy with the standard edition. The second disk hasmuch to offer. If I can get this alone, I would do so.

    What does it have to do with the hacker ethic? That is a little stretch of the imagination to get the review in this forum it seems.

    Anyhoo... If you have not seen this film, watch it. It will change your life. It also has some great performances by DeNiro and Hoskins.


  • 12 Monkeys isn't the final piece of the trilogy. That is "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen". It represents the rediscovery of "life, innocence and child's joy" that supposedly happens during your final days here on Earth. I sure hope so, cuz this middle part is sucking.

    "12 Monkeys" is just about someone witnessing their own death and owes a lot to a short French film (whose name escapes me).

    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • With Criterion focusing solely on DVD these days, people get to see films in a whole new way. I get really sick of the big movie houses coming out with a special version!@#!@# with 2 or 3 deleted scenes and commentary by gaffer #25. Criterion editions of movies have long set the standard for what an "enhanced movie" product should be.

    Its amazing what the difference can be sometimes in a movie houses's product and the Criterion of the same film. Take Armageddon for example... not the best movie ever (by far) but the Criterion with the dual layer and replaced scenes make the experience a whole lot more enjoyable to the point of changing at least one person's view (that I know) of the film entirely. Thats pretty good for only adding in back a few minutes of deleted scenes.

    The only drawback (and no the slightly higher cost is not one) is that sometimes they lag a bit and you've already purchased the inferior version of the film (ie Rushmore).

    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • How coincidental is it that Sam Lowry bears a striking resemblance to many photos and drawings I've seen of Eric Blair, more commonly known as George Orwell?
  • Tom Stoppard is also the author of the theatrical (and film) masterpiece, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead [], and I credit him along with Gilliam for a good deal of the "flavor" of Brazil.
  • James Cameron has been (deservedly) been taking a lot of flack lately, but once upon a time he was a really talented filmmaker. The new DVD edition of The Abyss is the most incredible DVD special edition I have ever seen, and wonderfully showcases this very good movie, and the incredible story of its making.

    While it is technically only two discs, it is easily the equal of the Criterion Collection's Brazil DVD. The Abyss also features two versions (the theatrical release, and the substantially longer, much better special edition), but through the magic of seamless branching, both versions are incorporated onto a single disc. The sound and video are both superb- this movie has never looked or sounded so good.

    Where it really shines, though, is the special features on disc two. I spent literally days exploring this disc, and at the end I was still discovering new features (a testament to the thoroughness of this disc, if not its user-interface design). There is a very impressive making-of documentary, of course, and the usual complement of trailers for The Abyss and other Cameron movies. What really knocked my socks off, though, was something relatively new for a DVD edition. This disc contains an entire book's worth (literally) of making-of material. It is mostly in the form of pages of text, but also features a whole slough of images, video clips, and other miscellany. One nice aspect of the interface: this 'book' can be read cover-to-cover, as it were, or can be acessed by topic through an alternate set of menus. Just to round things out, this disc also includes Cameron's original treatment, the complete shooting script, and all 600+ storyboards. All this for only $20!

    I heartily reccomend this disc to anyone who likes Cameron's work, wants to see a good movie, or has any interest at all in how movies are made. This disc is the bomb.

  • It would been more accurate to have said that one minor subplot was about the hacker ethic.

    (in the spirit of the parent post) perhaps it would have been more accurate to have said that someone might have an argument that one minor subplot was about the hacker ethic.

    'Kafka fever-dream' was probably the most valid interpretation in the entire review. to me, it seems that the forces driving Brazil were missed with this whole self-gratifying 'hacker-ethic' theme these guys were preoccupied with.
  • Do you always want something intellectually and emotionally challenging? I do most of the time, but there are many times when I just want to see something that doesn't drain me, that doesn't challenge me, that is just fun. And I have noticed that most people don't even want as much challenge as I do.

    So in answer to your question, yes it is more profitable in general to have happy endings. People just aren't after a challenge to their worldviews. They're after fun.

  • Warning: Even More Detailed Spoilers Below

    There are some people who never understood that Sam was lobotomized at the end. Some people thought he was dreaming, some people thought he was dead.

    I don't know what version you saw, but in the version *I* saw, as Sam drives off into the sunset with his beloved, the faces of Jack (the torturer) and Mr Helpmann (the big wheel) appear. Helpmann says: "He's got away from us, Jack". Sam is still in the interrogation chair humming to himself and smiling vacantly. This strongly suggests (really, it makes it explicitly obvious) that to escape the horror he was being subjected to Sam had retreated into a fugue state and was now quite literally living in a dream world. There is *no* indication whatever that he had been lobotomised. Helpmann's reaction makes it clear that Sam's final mental state was not the result they had desired.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction

  • The number one annoying thing about Anonymous Cowards: They have this strange ability to flame and insult someone and try to pass it off as intellegent debate.
  • Moderated down as off topic?!?! The guys who put together DeCSS are the real life Tuttle's, going around and fixing what's broken and being persecuted for 'unauthorized repairs'.
  • It's not just limited to Hollywood. We had to read Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" when I was in jr. high and the book we read from had two endings: the publisher's "happy" ending and Dickens' ending.
  • I loved Delicatessen, saw it on the big screen when it was released - it's one of my favourite French films. I can't imagine it with subtitles, though.

  • The voice over ruined most of the underlying themes of the film. It took away all the subtlety of the plot and presented you with the studio-approved explanation of what was going on. You aren't necesarily supposed to know what's going on all the time. What's more, it humanised Deckard far too much. Deckard was supposed to be pretty emotionless and perhaps a little depressed. He was never supposed to be a futuristic Sam Spade.

    Good science fiction films often deal with philosophical issues in some form. It's a part of dealing with the future or the effects of technology as a focus of a movie. The difference between good sci-fi and great sci-fi is often whether these concepts are woven into the fabric of the movie with a subtle hand (Total Recall, Bladerunner-director's cut), or thrown at you and beaten into you with a sledgehammer because someone thinks it may all be a bit beyond you(The Matrix, Bladerunner with the voice-over).

    There are so many interesting themes in Bladerunner, but when you watch the version with the voice-over, you miss most of them, and just see a slightly irritating film-noir detective story set in 2019.
  • by magic ( 19621 )
    This guy should have been moderated up (humerous) and the others moderated down (off topic).
  • Wait, I doubt Gilliam was thinking hacker and the hacker ethic when he filmed Brazil. I think he was thinking more about dystopia's and the stupidity of bureaucracy. I'm not even sure Harry Tuttle was actually there past the first scene since alot of the scenes in the film were things that Sam imagines in order to avoid the facing the reality of his everyday life. Sam is an inept cog in the bureaucracy that obtains his position through his mother's influence, tries to escape his life in daydreams where he is a brave and courageous hero who fights the system, and finally dies because of some errors that he made.

  • by ywwg ( 20925 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @08:39AM (#1117051) Homepage
    Is this the same format that everyone promised to boycott? Certianly doesn't seem that way.

    It's tough when the format is so wonderful (except for CSS and region coding), but the businessmen behind it are such dolts.
  • I'd almost forgotten about "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead". Brilliant film (never seen it preformed on the stage). My first year english prof pointed this one out to me while we were studying "Hamlet". It's not only funny as hell, it also gives alot of insight into the roll of R and G in "Hamlet".

    As a bit of an asside, later that year there was a very warped production of "Hamlet" at the school theatre. Instead of the main characters being royalty, they were the heads of a mafia familly. Same dialogue, but with an Italian accent, all dressed in 40's attire, and wielded guns instead of swords. And to top it off, scenes from "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead" were integrated into the play. Wierd, but definitely interesting.
  • If you'd bother to actually read the original post, you'll find that it was co-authered by Jamie and Emmett.

    It used to be that people couldnt be bothered to read the linked articles before posting. Are they now not even reading the post on the front page? Holy root.
  • Is it just too ironic to ask when the
    gods of antihackerdom will allow this
    to filter down to region 2?
  • "Suspicion Breeds Confidence" Suspicion Breeds Confidence
  • by Izaak ( 31329 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:25AM (#1117056) Homepage Journal
    Of course Brazil is best seen on the Big Screen... fortunately for me, I live half a block from a theater with an all classic movie format, and they occasionally run the directors cut of Brazil. They also ran Time Bandits not so long ago... all this, and in a city where I can pick up a print version of the Onion! :-)


  • It seems that a lot of people are missing the fact that brazil is actually based on the view of the future presented in george orwells great novel "1984", the novel that actually defined the concept of big brother..

    The working title of the film was "Ninteen Eighty Four-and-a-half".

  • Terry Gilliam made the film he intended, and the suits didn't like the final result and tried to supress it. Gilliam managed to show the completed film to the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and they voted it their film of the year. This gave him fuel to embarrass Sid Sheinberg with fill page ads in Variety that said:

    Dear Sid Sheinberg,
    When are you going to release my film "Brazil"?
    signed, Terry Gilliam

    I remember seeing Brazil when it was first (barely) released. It was allowed to play in Kansas City for one week, if I recall. It wasn't able to really gain it's audience in America until it was released on home video.

  • "12 Monkeys" is just about someone witnessing their own death and owes a lot to a short French film (whose name escapes me).

    It credits "La Jetée" [] as inspiration.

  • Fired nothing!! In oregon, you could have been arested.

    You do understand that I was referring to hardware that I had brought from home. The original crap configuration of a P90 with 16 megs of RAM and a 400 meg HD was restored. Or are you just being difficult?

  • it was a joking reference to Randal Schwartz's conviction in the state of Oregon for taking liberties with Intel's property.

    My apologies. I am unfamiliar with the Randal Schwartz case. Sorry for appearing dense.

  • by K8Fan ( 37875 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @08:19AM (#1117062) Journal

    True enough. Terry Gilliam has stated many times that he neither likes nor trusts technology, that all too often it is a tool for repressive types to use th strengthen their grip on power. The parody of technology, the insanely over-complicated telephones, user-hostile computers and such seem (IMO) to reflect Gilliam's own distaste for technological fixes. The only group in the film who seem to have a technology that actually works is the brutal department of Information Retrieval

    But, on the other hand, Harry Tuttle is a hacker archtype. Anyone who has ever worked in a company with a huge "Information Technology" department has had to hack around the system by bringing in unauthorized hardware and software in order to be able to get the job done. Maybe it's just me, but the hassles involved in getting additional RAM (i.e. filling out a "twenty-seven bee stroke zed" and waiting forever) made it easier to bring in my own. In 6 months working for a particularly brain-damaged division of Lucent, I was never able to get upgraded from a P90 with 16 megs of ram and a 400 meg HD. When I left, I took my 2 gig HD, 166 mhz processor and 64 megs of ram with me. If they had found out that I had added any of this, I could have been fired for even opening my computer.

    Almost any of Tuttle's lines could be spoken by any hacker anywhere: "I got into this game for the action! Get in, get out, man alone. Your entire apartment could be on fire and I couldn't so much as turn on a tap without filling out a 27b/z!". Also, Tuttle hacked the Central Services phone system to intercept Sam's phone call.

    It's not much of a stretch to compare Harry Tuttle's free air-conditioning services to a bunch of Linux geeks at a shopping mall doing free Linux installs ("Remember kid, we're all in this together.")

  • Nope, that's the single disc.

    I paid $60 for mine (It was a gift that I had to buy right away... so I bought it at Suncoast (gak)

    Try this link, it's cheaper than I paid, but it looks like it's out of stock: DVD Express []

  • Let me just point out that just because the artist didn't intend for there to be analogues to other ethics, mindsets, or situations doesn't mean that it's not true.

    I believe that the word that describes a work of art that does this is "trancendant."

    I could say Brazil reminds me of my life as a carrot farmer in the 1920s. Just because Gilliam didn't indend for that to happen doesn't make it untrue.
  • Everything you see is sujected to your mindset anyway. The least you can do is be aware of it and understand how it shapes your understanding of the world.

    If I wanted to describe every movie I saw in terms of its relation to my big toe, I can, and if I had a Big Toe website I might do it.

    There's nothing like a liberal arts education to encourage this sort of linking behavior. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of all things is a Good Thing, especially when it gets you a per diem, because it's true. Finding connections and analogs and parallels not only can simplify things and and create depth of understanding, it can also yield facinating, new results -- broadening understanding.

    Fighting against this mode of learning and sharing is just a form of informational luddism. Saying that nothing relates to anything else and decrying the act of finding new applications for old knowledge, experience or art kills the mind.

    Have a good day.
  • Not really. Who devises of legislation? Or, more to the point, in whose best interest is strong IP legislation?

    IP owners. Corporations.

    A unified and informed populace would have the means to combat unwanted IP legislation. Just like a unified and informed corporate culture can get what it wants.

    Which do you think is happening now?

    Go back and read my post again, I think you'll see I am perfectly aware how laws come to be, and who enforces them.

  • We all like to think that a totalitarian government is our worst enemy, and certainly it is something we need to defend against...

    But if you pause for a minute and ponder in whose best interest an anti-libertarian world is, in the information age, in a capitalist system (America, today) -- there is no escaping the fact that corporations should frighten you more than the government.

    Who can own information? Well, anyone can. Even the government can, but in a perfect democratic system, this would mean that the information is publicly owned. Public domain.

    But far more often than any individual or even the government owning information, a corporation does. They have a collective devoted to the "production" and "marketing" of the stuff. Some of it is genuinely valuable (genetic engineering, pharmaceuticals), while others of it gains value in its promotion or through network economics (CSS, the movie Wild Wild West, Windows).

    Because this intellectual property becomes a monstrous, addictive stream of income, the incentive to protect its "value" grows. Because the knowledge creates so much wealth, the knowledge-owner redirects a great deal of the wealth to protecting the value of the owned knowldge.

    One option would be hiring an army. Well, truth be told, it is the only option. But why start from scratch? As a knowledge owner, you're not in the army business, you don't know the first thing. So you outsource, and you hire the best. It doesn't come cheap, but now you have an army: The US Army. And Air Force, National Guard, and every police officer. Sounds like overkill, but knowledge is intangible, and has a terible habit of escaping on its own. Of course the Army deals in its own currency, so you need to convert. You use congress to convert your cash into laws.

    Suddenly we live in Brazil, and you can hardly blame the government. The knowledge required to fix your air conditioning, assemble your own computer, or play your DVDs under linux is locked away somewhere. Someone owns it, and they've got plenty of laws that say you will never find out. MCSEs will sign NDAs, and you'll have to pay someone to reboot for you because only they know how. In fact, NDAs will become a part of life, you'll sign them as frequently as you do credit card slips. Break one and you're disappeared. It would be for the good of the American Dream.

    The United States Goverment is just a toolbox, designed specifically to give itself tuneups. Its army is simply a ratchet that anyone can use to tighten up "the American Dream." The army, and the government itself are blind to the nature of that dream, and it uses democracy to fill in the blank.

    Struggling against the government is futile. The government only does what it is told to by those in power. If it is told that the American Dream is information ownership and proprietary systems, it will use its tools to tune up whatever it can (its laws, its subjects, its neighbors) to fit that dream. Clearly, as long as corporations have the power, corporations will decide the American Dream. Capitalism has its hand around the throat of our democracy, and nobody seems to want to use the other hand of capitalism (the consumer's will) to pull that hand away. They'd rather just use it to sock the democracy in the gut (systems designed to help individuals and laws and judgements that restrain corporations).

    Redirect your anger and frustration. Acknowledge that the government does what it is told by those with power. Then generate some power and do something about it. Fight capitalism with capitalism and free the democracy. If we succeed, you'll discover that a totalitarian government is not a threat, we will have conquered something worse.


    Not that I don't like Brazil. I love it.
  • Its been out on DVD for a while too, I rented it one day, first time I ever saw it. Now they are reviewing the box set, which must have been released not too long ago now. I'll have to add this too my DVD wish list.

    Now if only Braveheart, and the first 3 Star Wars movies would be released, and ___ and ___ and ___. Get with the times people, we want DVD!

  • The review doesn't say that Gilliam set out to make a movie about hackers

    Oh, really ?

    Brazil is a beautiful picture about the hacker ethic.

    The review didn't see hacking as a subplot, they view it as the central theme of the movie. Speaking of things that are obvious, it is obvious that their perspective is flawed. That you consider it interesting is not surprising considering the forum.

    I am not totally dismissive of the review. I think it is interesting not for what it says but how it contrives to force the hacker theme. I think it has been said that more interesting than the actual works of arts are the people behind the works or the people who interpret the works. This review supports that belief.

  • by mochaone ( 59034 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @07:28AM (#1117070)
    It's refreshing to see people bring their "ethos" to bear on the media of the day.

    I think it's repugnant. It's intellectually dishonest when you try to force a pre-conceived notion on "objective analysis". Granted, interpretations of art are very subjective and I normally wouldn't begrudge someone the opportunity to present their viewpoint. However, what I see here at Slashdot often, usually displayed by Katz or Roblimo, is an appalling tendency to force the square hacker peg into the round hole we call reality. I understand that they are marketing to the very segment that they patronize, but I think they would garner much appreciation if they were honest in their approach.

    Now as regards my perspective, as I've mentioned, I believe that Brazil was about the man's fears about losing control to amorphous entities that purport to be our benefactors, making all our decisions for us, telling us what products to use, controlling our thoughts. It's also speaks to man's unflinching fight against such onerous control. Brazil is very Orwelian in form and shares some similarities to Kafka's The Trial. I think Brazil has more symmetry with those works of arts than Steve Jobs and Randal Schwartz. I think most people who have broadened their horizons would share this assessment.

  • by mochaone ( 59034 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:17AM (#1117071)
    Brazil is a beautiful picture about the hacker ethic.

    It is? Hmmm. I thought it was a movie about the ineptness of senseless bureacuracy. Ok, ok...I guess you could kind of take the bug dropping into the typewriter as a symobolic computer bug thingy, but please, let's stop trying to reinvent the world based on some perverted hacker ethos.
    Frankly, I'm tired of seeing everything viewed through this same, tired prism. It doesn't always have to be about hacking to be good. Brazil is a prime example.

    I'm not trying to be funny, and I realize I will be moderated down for saying this, but some of you people, particularly who wrote this "review, need to get out more and broaden your horizons.

  • That has just got to be one of the best lines ever in a movie. "You're dead." "How about a little Necrophilia?"

    I hate to sound like I am jumping on a bandwagon here, but the review sucked. THe bulk of the review was spent discussing a charachter played by De Niro as a cameo, and nothing more, and had maybe 5 minutes screen time total on this call; the scene fixing the AC, and the very end that I don't want to explain for fear of spoiling the movie. The charachters played weren't any kind of hackers; they were individuals, the main charachter a main trying to find his freedom and inherent nobility in a society of oppressing beauracracy. The actual individuals are the main charachter and lead female, while two charachters to note are De Niro's, who charachter is (very symbolically) 'killed by the paperwork', and the lead charachter's mother, played by the wonderful redhead from 'Soap' and 'Who's the boss?'. Her charachter is a caring individual for Sam Lowry, however increasingly becomes more obsessed with her own quest for youth, and leaving Sam's eyes as an individual.

    If you are expeting this to be a comedy just because he is a 'Python'er, you don't know Gilliam very well. Gilliam is a very dark individual when it comes to film, as shown by such films as 'The Meaning of Life', '12 Monkeys', and 'Time Bandits'. The closest example I can think of is 12 Monkeys. THe imagery is the same, the tragedy of the film is very similiar, but Brazil has a lot (and I mean A LOT)more symbolism and methaphors in it, with dream sequences to familiarize you with the good heart of the protaganist, and the faceless, unstopable juggernaut that is the society he so wishes to free himself from. He even has a halucination scene freed Gilliam from all restraints and had more flying metaphors than Kefka on LSD.

    Warning: THis isn't a happy-feel good movie. Kids won't understand, and if you can't handle dark movies, this one may stay with you for a bit. Nonetheless, it is an excellent movie.
  • It's a joke! But you don't have to laugh.
  • I think you spelled the raspberry correctly.

    It's not about spelling or any reverse snobbery, it's about how appropriate the text is. Is the author communicating, regardless of syllable count? Good writer! Is the author trying to impress with lots of big words? Wanker!
  • by Bilestoad ( 60385 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @08:11AM (#1117075)
    You say:
    I'm going to guess that this review will irritate a bunch of people. It tries to pull too much stuff into orbit around the author's worldview, a sort of "kitchen-sink" theorizing that seems to me just what vexes people about JonKatz.

    Seabord says, in another reply:
    You know, this guy uses the BIG words correctly, yes still looks like a freshman jackass trying to impress someone. Not having a point to your posting can not be covered up by using ten dollar words. Have a nice day!

    I think you're both onto something. Just who IS "Slashteam"? It's that JonKatz wanker AGAIN, I bet. Actually it probably isn't, but Skald is absolutely right in what he says. But I still appreciated notice that it's available - I'll probably buy it.

    To appear soon on the /. front page:

    "Perhaps you are seeking to avoid ANYTHING written by Jon Katz - well TOO BAD, because he's now writing anonymously, and stories about him are appearing too. This has become necessary since every single Slashdot reader chose to turn on the JonKatz filter. Have a nice day."
  • Wow, I was impressed to see this review -- Brazil is among my top three or four favorite movies. I'd never seen it described as a hacker manifesto before, but hey, whatever -- any successful piece of artwork will rise to new interpretations, and the fact that I (for one) see most of Gilliam's movies as being anti-technology and anti-computers is, well, a trifling thing.

    I saw enough good reviews here that I'll refrain from rehashing a lot of the same material. But I think it's worth noting that if you really liked Brazil, you might want to go back and watch it as the middle piece of a three part trilogy, with the first part being Time Bandits and the third being The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

    From a certain point of view, the three movies describe the childhood, adhulthood, and old age of a single archtypical character, and his trials and tribulations in the modern world. Time Bandits, of course, shows him as a small, imaginitive boy who gets no affection from his television addicted parents, and not enough diversion from his toys and games. Brazil presents the same character as a middle aged man, still imaginitive, but being withered down by the bureaucracy and lack of social connection he has felt his whole life. Finally, Baron Munchausen shows him as an old man, scorned and ignored by the people around him, but still taking refuge in his fertile mind and his brilliant stories.

    There is a definite distopian theme running through each, with common elements all through them: impersonal interactions with others, oppressive and pervasive technologies, etc.

    There's also some neat little shifts if you view the movies this way -- for one thing, they seem to be chronologically backwards, with TB in the 80s, B earlier in the century, and BM a century or more ago. It is as if the protagonist is regressing to an earlier time as he gets older, at least in hims mind.

    Anyway. Yeha. Kickass movies. Gonna have to go rent/buy them soon, now that I've read this. Too bad I don't have DVD. Hmmm....

  • Brazil is a beautiful picture about the hacker ethic.

    It is? Hmmm. I thought it was a movie about the ineptness of senseless bureacuracy.

    And here I thought it was about a man trapped in a reality so oppressive, his only escape is through fantasy. In "real life", Sam Lowry is a faceless, powerless cog in a the state's machine. Ah, but in his fantasies, he's the valiant hero coming to rescue the damsel in distress (pitting fantasy vs. reality is a common theme in TG's films)

    The wonderful thing about art is that it's not just the artist's vision -- it's the artist's vision as interpreted by the viewer (or reader, or listener, or whatever).

    All three viewpoints are right -- for each of the three viewers. Sure, the Tuttle bit of it isn't the whole movie, but it is a significant piece, and it does fit well with the hacker ethic.


  • Fortunately, they've lost this obsession, mostly. This was an eighties obsession that Brazil ran smack into the middle of. I've not heard of this done lately, likely because of the success of downer movies like Seven (or even Titanic) and also because movies with tacked-on happy endings nearly always fail at the box office.

  • I beg to differ. The biggest money making movie of all time killed off one of the two main characters at the end.

  • It would been more accurate to have said that one minor subplot was about the hacker ethic. I agree with the assessment of the Tuttle character. He is a sort of "hacker" type. Sort of. It is just that this character only has about ten minutes of screen time and is certainly not a main character!

    Anyway, the movie was certainly not about technology. The technology in the movie was a metaphor for bureacratic government. Lots of useless ducts/wires. Doesn't work real well. Explodes at random.

  • I love that film, and wish I could find it on video. It has both Tim Roth and Gary Oldman before they were famous. I'm also going to see it live for the first time this summer.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:09AM (#1117082) Homepage Journal
    The first thing to do is to burn disc three. That version is an abomination.

    Anyway, anyone who hasn't seen Brazil needs to go do so now. It is (IMHO) one of the best movies ever. Certainly the best dystopia ever put on film.

    By the way, the script was cowritten by Tom Stoppard, who won an oscar a year or so back for Shakespeare in Love.

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:42AM (#1117083) Homepage Journal
    Ok, this might be something of a spoiler:

    After rewatching it a couple of times, I am conviced that the "terrorists" don't exist, and the explosions are merely due to the technology falling apart due to incompetence. And the "hacker" types like Tuttle, blamed for the "terrorism" are actually the only thing keeping the system afloat. Nice irony.

  • The saddest thing about this run-on navel-gazing review is the way the authors, in taking themselves and their "ethic" so seriously, seem to have missed the twisted, smirking humour of Gilliam's movie. Get this: De Niro's Tuttle isn't your hacker hero, he's a caricature. He repairs ducts ferchrissakes.

    Yes, I understand what being a hacker is all about (my first post to alt.hackers was around 1990 under this same nick; hell, it was probably the same topic ;). It's about enjoying what you do. Sometimes that involves working with technology, often it involves avoiding it instead because it usually sucks in some nasty way (think about it).

  • "Gilliam is a very dark individual when it comes to film, as shown by such films as 'The Meaning of Life', '12 Monkeys', and 'Time Bandits'. "

    You can add Gilliam's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" to that list. It follows Hunter S. Thompson's book very closely, and looks like a visual orgy. The biggest complant I heard about this film was that it was disoganized and messy. The reason it's this way is that it tries to follow the style of the book very closely, which is basiclly a distorted account of a motorcycle race and a DA convention, and everything in between. Duke Raoul and Dr. Gonzo have one long ugly trip, and the film shows it all in detail.

    I think the other reason the didn't do to well is the way it was advertized. The T.V. ads, if I remember correctly, tried to past this off as a Cheech and Chong type comedy, while the film is much more darker and violent than that (The scene where Dr. Gonzo is sitting in the tub, full of acid and trying to kill himself comes to mind).

  • That's what y'all posters look like, most of you, anyways. Had to say it. I'd tend to disagree that the movie glorifies the hacker ethic; rather, the movie goes a long way toward describing the sources of what is known as the "hacker ethic", among other things.
  • Brazil is one of my two favorite pieces of social commentary in any media (Harrison Bergeron being the other - in fact, HTuttle was my first choice for a name, but it seemed to be taken.)

    It strikes me that some of the early complaints about this review are from the same types of people who complained in high school english class when the discussion would turn toward "levels of meaning" in a particular work. There were always a few who would insist that the group was over-interpreting, creating things that weren't there, or reading their own opinions into the work. Rarely does an artist, particularly one on the level of Stoppard, without bringing many different ideas into the mix. After all, do you think linearly when you're being creative - Or do you bring a wide range of experience to bear on each part of the problem/creation? This review was a new and refreshing take on the movie, with a focus on Tuttle that most others didn't have. I enjoyed seeing how the analytical hacker mind sees this work of art.

    A couple of other thoughts:

    Tom Stoppard is a genius. While also pimping his talents as a Hollywood script doctor (Indiana Jones, Russia House, Billy Bathgate,) He has also written some timeless pieces of theatre -Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead being just one of them. If you take away the fluff Hollywood love story on top, Shakespeare in Love was a very good film. Hell it was a very good film anyway. Viewed as a critique on the entertainment industry's process for producing films, it's hilarious - from the hard nosed money men who are just frustrated artists to the convoluted credits (based on, a XXX play, presented by,) to the egotistical writers whose final stories bear no resemblance to their pitch - "there's this pirate, you see." Brazil, with Gilliam and Stoppard working together, is both deeply written, and brilliantly realized visually - not just a play brought to the screen (Ros and Guil) and not just great visuals without a well thought out story (the Matrix) (oops, flamebait).

    As far as /. posting this now, hell, the Criterion release has even been out for quite a while, but, we haven't discussed this before, and if Brazil wasn't a movie for nerds, it wouldn't have had any box office at all. How long does it take to scroll past the headline anyway. I'd like to see /. get up to the level of at least as many headlines as the front section of the paper each day.
  • Most Gilliam fans probably read this at one point or other, but Terry Gilliam claims that he never read 1984 until after he filmmade Brazil. Of course, he also says that he lies in every interview. And one can't deny the Big Brother overtones in the film. But that adds interesting insight into Brazil.

    Also, I think any fan of Brazil might enjoy the 1991 Steven Soderbergh film Kafka. Filmed in Black and White (with colorization for one scene) in Prague, it features Jeremy Irons as Kafka, an insurance salesman. From Brazil, Ian Holm appears as the antagonist. It mixes elements of Kafka's writings and his life to tell the story of bureaucracy gone wrong. The cinematography is beautiful. The movie is out of print (as many great films are and remain to be) but any video store should carry it.


  • The first thing to do is to burn disc three. That version is an abomination.

    I hope you aren't serious, because if so you're completely missing the point. Disc three and the commentary that accompanies it form a vivid object lesson in the power of editing, and how it can be abused. It's a powerful example of the way a director's work can be warped, through omission of dialog and other, more subtle manipulation, to present the exact opposite vision from what he intended. Everybody who is concerned about the integrity of artistry in a capitalist society should watch it and learn.

  • Spoilers for Brazil and for other movies below:

    Well, I think this is one of the interpretations he wanted you to take away, but I think he wanted it to be plausible that the terrorists were real, or that the terrorists were a fantasy of Sam's, or that they terrorists were a phantasmal "enemy" created by the system to explain the failures of the system, or that the terrorists were real but really weren't that effective and that the system built them up because it's easier to catch Mafiaboy than to address the real issues.

    It's been a couple of years since I watched it carefully, but I think that all of these interpretations works.

    Brazil isn't the first movie to do this, but it has become much more common since then. For example, two big recent movies--Fight Club and American Psycho--both lend themselves to a range of interpretations ranging from "It's all a fantasy in the head of a man who feels powerless and impotent in modern society" to "It's all true."

    Well, not exactly. Obviously, some of what happens in each of those movies is fantasy. At the very least, the paperwork burial in Brazil, the explosions in more buildings than were targeted in Fight Club, and the over-the-top slaughter scene in American Psycho are at the very least distorted visions of what's really going on. But that doesn't mean that nothing that happens is real. And each person who walks out of the theater has a different perception about how much is real.

    Maybe it's just a more sophisticated version of the classic Wizard of Oz ending, but it certainly gives you more to think about, and more to talk about--which is the point.
  • by payn ( 81160 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:11AM (#1117091)
    "One of the genius visions of this film is its depiction of the crazy patchwork of technology that runs our civilization."

    This is an interesting way to put it. Other reviewers always refer to the crazy patchwork of technology that runs Brazil's civilization as a metaphor for the crazy patchwork that runs ours.

    But actually, to a large extent, it is literally true. I don't know why I never thought about this before....
  • And so are the slashdot moderators of the day.
  • Mr. LafinJack, we have your straight jacket ready.
  • whoop! sorry. no troll intended. it's just that "baron munchausen" happens to be one of my all-time favorite films. and i heartily agree with your analysis of "this middle part."

    that said, i recently saw "brazil" for the first time at my local repetory cinema and really enjoyed it. and even then, i was struck with the common themes it held with "the hacker ethos." whether that was intentional or not i don't think matters. this review definitely stretched tuttle's part and milked it for everything they could get, but i definitely agree with the basic premise. although i would also agree with everyone here who said it was much more about an orwellian dystopia than any kind of hacker ethic.

  • The first time I saw "Brazil" in the theatre, I was a couple of minutes late. I missed the fly falling into the teletype machine and changing "Tuttle" to "Buttle". When the police came to take Buttle away, I was at least as confused as he was. In retrospect, it tremendously enhanced the effect of the film.
  • by zpengo ( 99887 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:36AM (#1117096) Homepage
    I love the part of the film where, inside a vast computerized workspace located in Redmond, you can see a sign that says "Paranoia Breeds Confidence."

    At least, I always assumed that was in Redmond...I could be wrong.

  • I once read somewhere that while it wasn't intended, the films "Time Bandits", "Brazil", and "12 Monkeys" form an odd trilogy of movies produced by Terry, representing three phases of life. "Time Bandits" as childhood, "Brazil" as middle age, and "12 Monkeys" as old age.

    Actually, you're only 2/3rds right. While Gilliam has said that he never set out to create a formal "trilogy", he realized after the fact that the themes of three of his films do track the progression of the life of the dreamer from birth to death: Time Bandits [] showing the dreamer as a child, Brazil [] depicting the dreamer in adulthood, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen [] (not 12 Monkeys []) showing the dreamer in old age. The three movies in the "trilogy" were all written by Gilliam (which allowed him to shape the storyline to fit his ideas), but he did not write 12 Monkeys (he was brought in by Universal as a hired director to film an already-written script).

    Gilliam's films are almost uniformly fascinating to watch and think about, even the less artistically successful ones such as Baron Munchausen and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas []. Anyone who is interested in Gilliam's work can find lots of great info in two books: The Battle of Brazil [] by film critic Jack Mathews, chronicling the struggle on Gilliam's part to get Brazil released with its original ending, and Gilliam on Gilliam [], a series of interviews in which Gilliam talks about his life and work. Both are excellent reads.

    -- Jason A. Lefkowitz

  • As in almost all of his post-Python movies, Gilliam explored the schizophrenia or what is now called "multiple personality disorder" in "Brazil"s protagonist.

    Harry Tuttle is a figure of Sam's imagination. It is really Sam who mends the ducts, plays a prank on Hoskins and his assistant, and envisions Tuttle's daring rescue attempt as he is clasps helpless during his interrogation/execution. Tuttle is a hallucination, a fevered product of Sam's psychosis.

    The "hacker" intent of Brazil -- if present -- is incidental at best.

  • Okay, I know I'm in the minority here, but I really hated Brazil. I've seen it several times over the years, and it just never grew on me. Its odd because I like Terry Gilliam's work: the Monty Python movies, Time Bandits(!), Fisher King, etc.

    I'm certain that part of my dislike for this movie comes because the first time I saw it was right after studying the book 1984 in high school. After beating that book to death for a few weeks, Brazil probably wasn't the best choice for a movie.

    Of course, not all of my dislike for this movie can be pinned on an over-zealous sophmore English teacher. I can't quite put my finger on it, but this movie just irritated me like hot grits down my pants.

    So...thats my two cents.

  • The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen was a great movie that in my opinion too many people have not seen. Of the three movies in the trilogy, it is the most obscure. It also has a a buch of actors who are now famous. The actor playing Sam Lowry in Brazil plays the antagonist town govornment (but we still all remember him from the first infinity car comercial.) Gilliam brought in at least one of the Monty pythond gang (the guy who runs supper fast.) Robin Williams is the man on the moon. And who can forget Uma Thurman as Aphroditee? Also, the barron himself is none other than the Well Manacured Man from X-files.

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @08:04AM (#1117101) Journal
    I'm sorry, and I don't care how badly I get moderated down, but WHAT AN AWFUL REVIEW!!!

    Sam is a hacker. Harry is a hacker. Terry is a hacker. Everyone's a hacker, and it's absolutely astounding because they didn't even consult with 'us' first!

    GET A FUCKING GRIP! You brats didn't invent this idea of hacking, it doesn't apply solely to computer-related life, and in fact you didn't even invent the term. The only thing original you've done with regards to 'hacking' is to overuse, abuse, and dilute the term.

    My dad took apart watches when he was a kid. Also made NI3 to torment the bully upstairs in university. Oh my god, he's a hacker and he didn't even read the official hacker manifesto. (if it doesn't exist yet, it will) Neither did Newton. It's amazing! They were, like, our spiritual forefathers, dudez!

    Ah, fuck it. I only hope that Terry Gilliam doesn't get wind of this interview. It'll probably make him sick.

  • Yah, the role that Bob Hoskins plays in Brazil is easily overlooked, but he does a fantastic job. But then again, Hoskins is one of my absolute faves. Anyone born with a thick lower-class British accent who can do a 1940's era Californian gumshoe (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) is someone who demands my respect...


  • If you actually think of it mathmetically everything has the ability to be broken down into steps (algorithms) and then assembled (programs).
    If you ACTUALLY think about it then your assertion is false.
    Maths is based on assumptions (axioms) which can't be broken down.
    As your brain specialises (maybe) on pattern matching then everything becomes a pattern and algorithm.
    All you describe is a Turing machine which is good for solving a subset of the available problems.
  • by hypra ( 121632 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @05:42AM (#1117106) Homepage
    In analysing that film you reveal yourself, do you ? In the whole commentary is said slim about the film and nothing about hacking. Brazil is not about Hackers, Brazil is about an overwhelming, frightening system and an individuum caught in one of its spotlights. Spanning the bridge, a hacker is an individuum, independent, caught-up in a mindless system, where however he still finds his place of living despite being a misfit. Let's translate it: A Cowboy is a lonely rider, a man who can watch his back himself, caught-up in the endless prairie in the depths of the wild beyond the frontier, where he can find his place by having a gun to shot all the nasty boys and defend his parts.

    Back to the roots, right? We all want to be Heroes.

    Hacking is not about a mood, but about knowledge, how it is created, how it is found, how it is made.

  • Try 'Imaginary Homelands' by Salman Rushdie. As I remember, he liked quite a few things about the film. It's a great collection of esays anyway, although a little dated. I picked up my .sig from another essay in that book, 'In Good Faith' (wherein he was defending the masterpiece 'The Satanic Verses').

  • by kapper ( 133093 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @07:01AM (#1117113) Homepage
    It seems that a lot of people are missing the fact that brazil is actually based on the view of the future presented in george orwells great novel "1984", the novel that actually defined the concept of big brother..

    And on a side note, anybody who enjoyed watching brazil, ought to watch Terry Gilliam presented the same vision once again 10 years later in 12 monkeys. Both movies are really great at giving us that true orwell like big-brother-paranoia!
  • There's no doubt that Robert deNiro's character in Brazil is in many ways a hacker. You might argue that there are other revolutionary outlaw archetypes that might fit the description just as well, but I can't think of any.

    To start with, there's the fact that he happens to be a highly expert engineer who likes to get down to the nuts and bolts of the dominant technology of the day. Is that not enough? Well then...

    A hacker enjoys coming up with elegant solutions to technical problems. ie. when Harry Tuttle fixes the heating system by bypassing one simple part where the official tech support guys would be re-installing the whole damn system.

    A hacker plays mischevious pranks by using the technology in ways it wasn't designed for, ie. what HT does to the Central Services guys when they do show up.

    A hacker tends to care more about getting the job done, and having fun doing it, than following all the rules and regulations. He'd rather not bother with form no. 27B-6, thank-you-very-much.

    A good hacker knows how to take precautions and not get caught when he's doing something that might get him in trouble... Harry Tuttle's silent and sudden dissapearance into the night is what many hackers aim for.

    Hackers are often seen by the authorities as a dangerous criminal terrorist outlaws who must be stopped. ...

    Various attributes are associated with "hackers", and de Niro's character in Brazil exemplifies them all. If it wasn't intentional, then perhaps it was an independant invention based on the possibilities of an information society, but in any case the parallels are too strong to deny.
  • Awww! But I like my big words! :-)

    Well, normally nothing irritates me like the anti-big word people... but they're usually an insecure bunch, and I don't hear that here. As I noted, this post wasn't fully-baked; it was written during a small window of internet access on a trip. As a consequence, I can see something in what you say... though not everything. There is a certain point to the post. The writing could have been better. And at any rate, I haven't been a freshman jackass in a long time. :-)

    But it's good to see how some see you, so thanks.

  • by Skald ( 140034 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:28AM (#1117116)
    Well, this was an interesting review of a fifteen year old film. :-) I liked the blurb about the new release to justify the whole thing as "news"... but then, hey, I've never been a "Slashdot minimalist". I, for one, prefer "interesting" to strictly "newsworthy".

    This is an early post, so I'm going to make a guess. I'm going to guess that this review will irritate a bunch of people. It tries to pull too much stuff into orbit around the author's worldview, a sort of "kitchen-sink" theorizing that seems to me just what vexes people about JonKatz.

    Hackers and Crackers, Randal Schwartz, the Woz, Open Source, the Hacker Ethic... all by analogy with a renegade air-conditioner repairman. Maybe there's something there. I thought the correlation novel, anyway. But it's not tight. The review reaches out for things which have the feel of the theory and pulls them in, without the sort of fastidious discernment which many analytical people feel as a moral obligation: asking themselves, in strict fashion, "does this really belong here?"

    Just an interesting dichotomy I've noticed here on Slashdot. At one extreme, people so exuberent about their Grand Unified Theory of Hacking that they'll find a half-baked way to use it to predict the weather. On the other hand those abstemious fellows who seem uncomfortable posting without a full set of MLA footnotes.

    This post lies somewhere between. It's not entirely baked either. :-) Nor, however, as ambitious as the review. It's a bit tighter, and as a consequence not as likely to peeve folks (I hope!)

    And likely to generate interesting criticism... I hope.

  • With apologies to Carly Simon, "You're so vain, you probably think this movie's about you". You think Terry Gilliam had linux hackers in mind when he made Brazil!?!?

    I'm not sure how it happened - the writer/director, TerryGilliam, wasn't in tune with the computer underground that I know of - but the character has, in a few short minutes onscreen, captured the universal essence of hacking.

    AFAIK, Terry hung out with the Monty Python crew, independant directors, creative people offering real parodies and insights on society. People doing more to change the world than making blue boxes go "ka-ching". His artistic vision may have been formed by looking at some of the great artists and writers of the world. He might have captured some of the essence of wisdom and perception, no? Emmet (along with the rest of the crew, Jon "kiss the geek" Katz comes to mind) seems to annointed computer geeks as the new avengers of individuality and liberty. That's fine, but don't insinuate that Terry Gilliam gives more than a passing fart about you.

    Umm perhaps Terry might have been commenting on government and corporate systems that oppress the spirit, or the human desire to be free, to be in love, to fly, etc etc..

    Oops... I'm let falling out of step with our "individuality" here on Slashdot. What was I thinking. Let me get back on track

    In fact Brazil is about hackers and nerd justice and bad telephone design.
    So when is the Linux version of Brazil available?
    DVD sucks
    Hot grits in emmets pants
    Windows NT is Central Systems

  • Quoth the poster (quoting someone else, in italics):
    It's refreshing to see people bring their "ethos" to bear on the media of the day.

    I think it's repugnant. It's intellectually dishonest when you try to force a pre-conceived notion on "objective analysis".

    I think it's art. The truly moving and important pieces of art have this in common: they resonante with many different people for many different reasons. They look different to different people, and everyone finds their own meaning in them. Those meanings, considered together, then lead to a new knowledge of something universal about the human condition.

    Sure, Gilliam didn't intend to make a hacker flick. It obviously nods to Kafka and (less so) to Orwell. But they are not the end-all, be-all of interpretation. I don't think it's too terribly disrespectful to say that the film happens to have echoes of hackerdom. Tuttle clearly could be a hacker, fixing things for the joy of doing it, fiddling around with "unathorized" modifications, thumbing his nose at both the authorities and the society that support them.

    Is Sam a hacker? Well, that's less clear, but it can be argued. He, too, is a fixer. He obviously knows how to get things done, working around the system, and he obviously knows the ins-and-outs of the system. The film is, in one sense, his attempt to "hack" the Ministry of Information. Of course, this is by analogy not identity -- Sam doesn't write any C code that I could see -- but it isn't a ridiculous analogy.

    It dismays me to see people who assume that any attempt to find a hacker resonance is "putting square pegs in round holes". My view is that it's more like circumabulating something, attempting to see it from a new angle. Some things are obscured but some things are revealed, and nothing is removed for those who wish to view it the old way.

  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @10:03AM (#1117126) Homepage Journal
    Quoth the poster:
    The number one annoying thing about libertarians: They can turn just about any conversation into a forum where they lecture about their pet political philosophy.
    Sort of like geeks and hackers on slashdot. :)

    Even I see the irony here, and I'm one of those who agree there's a resonance between Brazil and hackerdom.

  • There were three script writers on Brazil []: Terry Gilliam, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown. Charles McKeown is a British actor who has appeared in several of Gilliam's movies and also cowrote The Adventures of Baron Munchausen [] with Gilliam.

    As an interesting aside Tom Stoppard is listed by IMDB as an uncredited writer on Indiana Jones and the last Crusade []
  • by Kryptonomic ( 161792 ) on Saturday April 22, 2000 @06:06AM (#1117128) Homepage
    >...controversial happy ending

    What is it with Hollywood's obsession with happy endings, anyway? Is it really so that movies with happy endings and dumbed down narration (as in the original Blade Runner) are in general more profitable? Has the definition of entertainment narrowed down to "just something that is easy to follow and makes you feel happy afterwards", instead of it being both an intellectually and emotionally (throughout the spectrum) challenging experience?

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern