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Over our tandoori dinner at Little India on Monday night, I shared with the girls what I still think is director Terry Gilliam's finest film to date; "Brazil".

Deep in the darkly-humoured core of the film are themes of
- consumerism as a totalitarian society's prescribed lulling distraction from its inherent inhumanity

- meaningless considerations of status and vanity over personal happiness and well-being (cosmetic surgeries, addiction to fashion, obsession to look young and beautiful)

- surviving in a vast, impersonal, and indifferent social structure

- absurdity of the anonymous, ritualized, and soulless machinery that make up the absurd necessities of adult life in modern society

Back in 1985, few films challenged such themes with such dark tragicomic twists. In a whimsical sci-fi way, the film presents Gilliam's messages in prefect imagery and symbolism. Thought-provoking, profound and definitely not for everyone.

Interesting enough, I was asked why the film was entitled "Brazil". A question I couldn't point a finger to. A search on the Internet reveals that Gilliam had numerous working titles from "The Ministry of Torture", "How I Learned to Live with the System - So Far" to "and So That's Why the Bourgeoisie Sucks". He finally settled with "Brazil"; Aquarela do Brasil, a famous Brazilian song, written by Ary Barroso in 1939. The song writer wrote the piece to "free the samba away from the tragedies of life, of the sensual scenario already so explored". Brazil, also known as Hy-Brazil is a mythical phantom island said to be cloaked in mist, except for one day in seven years. Even when it became visible it still could not be reached. Such artistic brilliance can only come from Gilliam's mind.

Take a look behind What is Brazil:

Soon we can relive Gilliam's magic again in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". In anticipation.

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