Filmsite Movie Review
Brazil (1985)
Pages: (1) (2) (3) (4)
Plot Synopsis (continued)

They drive to her place of employment, an industrial power plant, although Sam objects. Jill realizes that he has a tenuous hold on reality:

Sam: We shouldn't have come here.
Jill: I got a job to do.
Sam: But they'll be lying in wait.
Jill: Oh, Christ, you're paranoid. You've got no sense of reality.

Sam proposes taking the truck-lorry and getting away as fast as possible - to a "far away" location. [Plant Signs: 3 CONSECUTIVE HOURS WITHOUT A TIME-LOSS ACCIDENT, and MIND THAT PARCEL. EAGLE EYES CAN SAVE A LIFE.] A pre-fabricated house is lowered onto the back of Jill's truck for delivery.

On an upper level of the power plant, an unidentified man hands Jill a brown package, as Sam watches with "eagle eyes." They drive off down a highway lined with billboards that hide the industrial wasteland on either side. Intrigued and wary of the parcel, Sam believes that it is a terrorist bomb rather than a Christmas present. Jill counters his distrust by confronting the reality of Sam's world:

Sam: Anyway, if I want you to trust me, it's only fair that I should trust you, right?
Jill: Doesn't it bother you the sort of things you do at Information Retrieval?
Sam: What? I suppose you'd rather have terrorists?
Jill: How many terrorists have you met, Sam? Actual terrorists?
Sam (dumbfounded): Actual terrorists?
Jill: Yeah.
Sam: Well, it's only my first day. (She laughs loudly at his innocent admission.)

As they approach a roadblock checkpoint while returning to the city, Sam stomps on the accelerator and causes the truck to crash through the metal barriers. Sam is euphoric until siren alarms of armored pursuit vehicles are heard behind them. They careen through narrow alleyways of the city, and eventually escape by releasing the prefabricated house from the back-half of the truck into the other vehicles' path.

They enter a busy shopping mall decorated with colorful neon signs and filled with shoppers and a Salvation Army band. [Banner: CONSUMERS FOR CHRIST.] A child on Santa's lap divulges a wish: "My own credit card." In the lingerie department of one of the stores, where older female shoppers inspect varieties of mannequins wearing supportive girdles, bras, and undergarments, Jill and Sam remain distrustful of each other:

Jill: (sarcastically) Trust you? A man who hijacks my truck, loses me my job, has every security man in town looking for me. Of course I trust you...
Sam: OK, OK, you don't trust me. I don't trust you. What's in that parcel?

When they begin struggling for the parcel (behind a mirror, making Sam appearing to wrestle with himself), a face- and hand-bandaged, mummy-like Mrs. Terrain (pushed in a wheel-chair by Shirley) heads toward them. The scarred woman describes the latest surgical catastrophe and disaster to personally reinvent herself, and her choices of risque lingerie:

My complication had a little complication. But Dr. Jaffe says I'll soon be up and bounding about like a young gazelle.

A devastating explosion rocks the department store, and sends pieces of mannequins and shoppers in all directions. Bloodied hands reach up (similar to the image of Kurtzmann's brick-and-mortar hands clutching upwards) to grab Sam's legs as he runs through the carnage. Under rubble, he finds Jill unharmed but jarred and dirtied by the blast. He blames her parcel for the bombing - until she hurls the package at him - inside is a toy - and angrily denounces the system that demands bribes: "A bribe for official monkeys like you." Her involvement in the terrorist movement is proven to be unfounded.

One of the security guards dispatched to the bomb site is transformed, in Sam's mind, into the samurai of his dreams. Sam enters his dream world and briefly battles the giant combatant (with a detached arm from a mannequin) who appears inside the bombed-out store. [This is the second, final, and very brief dream sequence with the Samurai warrior.] Sam is knocked unconscious from behind by a guard's gun-butt, and in the next scene, he is detained by black-garbed and heavily-sweating helmeted guards (Don Henderson, Howard Lew Lewis) who are transporting other strait-jacketed and hooded prisoners to the depot in the back of their Black Maria vehicle. Sam begins to frantically look for Jill amongst the other bagged prisoners: "I'm looking for a girl with long hair, she's medium height, green eyes." When Sam neglects and ignores their warnings to not touch the prisoners, he is again knocked unconscious.

When Sam recovers consciousness, he has somehow found his way back to his Information Retrieval office and is at his desk. Sam (with a bloody and bruised face) is being reprimanded by Mr. Warrenn (in an extreme close-up) for giving the department a "black eye." His desk is stacked high with folders of work that he hasn't processed, and Sam is scolded for his use of family connections to obtain his position:

And what the hell is this mess. An empty desk is an efficient desk...I don't know what's going on here, Lowry, but don't think you can intimidate us with your friends and relatives in high places. NOW SHAPE UP!

Lime snickers at his co-worker's difficulties and locks himself into his own office without offering to loan his computer console, for Sam to help find out if Jill was arrested.

Believing that Jill is innocent, Sam visits Jack's office, where his slimy friend is donning a bullet-proof vest. Sam pleads with him to be sympathetic toward Jill who he claims is innocent, but Jack resolutely refuses, regarding the whole case as much more complicated. He believes that Jill is one of the terrorists responsible for the destructive mall bombing, and that she is in league with Tuttle: "She's not alone in all this - we've just had a report in that Tuttle has wrecked an entire flat and sabotaged adjacent Central Services, as a matter of fact, in your block." As they both descend in the elevator, Jack gives a chilling assessment:

There are no coincidences, Sam. Everything's connected, all along the line. Cause and effect. That's the beauty of it. Our job is to trace the connections and reveal them. This whole Buttle/Tuttle confusion was obviously planned from the inside. Bye, bye.

He then advises Sam to keep his distance and "stay away" from him: "Well, until this all blows over, just stay away from me."

Maddened and at loose ends, Sam returns to his office where he tosses his stack of paperwork off the desk. When a number of incoming cylinders are delivered through a pneumatic tube (an "in" and "out" tube sit side by side next to his desk), he decides to sabotage the communications system by stuffing outgoing cylinders with wads of paper. Then, he grabs a length of pneumatic tubing and plugs up both his outgoing and incoming tubes with it - connecting the two together. He also grabs his half-visible desk and forcibly pulls it into his own space (causing a scream of pain from Lime behind the wall). The section of connective tubing begins to bulge from the pressure and overloaded system, causing an explosion somewhere within the system. Plaster falls from his office ceiling, and outside, sheets of paper lyrically rain down from the busted ductwork outside in the corridor. Sam enjoys a catharctic smile - pleased with himself for destroying part of the paper-clogged bureaucracy.

That evening, he leaves the building and emerges into the fog-shrouded street, while a bluesy-jazz tune accompanies his walk home. When he forces his apartment door open, he discovers that the interior is a frozen wasteland of sub-zero temperature and icicles. Central Services engineers Spoor and Dowser, who are responsible for "repairing" the apartment, are wearing transparent plastic suits (with life-support tubes connected to terminals) to protect them from the cold. Spoor informs Sam: "Your thermostat's gone. And then some."

They claim that Sam must vacate during repairs and produce an official form (H22O6) to prove it before kicking Sam out. From the shadows outside Sam's apartment, Tuttle comes to Sam's rescue - with the film's sole example of excremental humor. He removes an outside wall panel, swaps the positioning of two duct tubes (the A/C and Sewage lines), and then activates a lever to start the flow of raw sewage. As Sam watches through a window with a periscope, untreated sludge begins to drain into the plastic suits worn by the two men. The level of brown sewage quickly fills up the suits, reaches neck level, and eventually causes them to drown in the vile liquid. Off-screen, their suits explode, evidenced by splattered remains on the window. Expectedly, both Sam and Tuttle react:

Sam: S--t!
Tuttle: We're all in it together, kid.

Suddenly, Jill comes around the corner and Sam is reunited to her. When he tells her that he's been "worried sick" about her, their lips move closer to kiss, but the sound of Tuttle's throat-clearing and fast descent on his rope distracts them. Sirens compel them to flee to Sam's mother's apartment, who is away for Christmas and spending time with plastic surgeons: "The wraps come off tomorrow." Their faces, glowing in the neon light, slowly come together again for a long-awaited kiss. Brazil's cymbal-clashing theme music plays. They fall onto the couch while stripping off their clothes, but Sam breaks off their romance when he warns Jill: "Lock the door after me. Don't answer the phone to anyone. I won't be long." He has an idea to "save" Jill from death, and tells her: "Trust me."

Sam (wearing a long trench coat and hat) enters the lobby of Information Retrieval, but it is after-hours (maintenance personnel vacuum the floor with cleaners attached to giant ducts) and he is unable to contact Mr. Helpmann. When the porter Dawson at the desk is preoccupied with the executive Yes/No toy, Sam sneaks down one floor to the basement where Helpmann's private elevator is located. He remembers Minister's words about the passcode to him: "'Ere I am, J.H." and punches the letters into the control panel. He arrives on the floor where he locates Helpmann's empty office (a large black and white framed photo of his mother adorns Helpmann's desk). In a side computer room, Sam finds a bank of computers and decides to punch in some information [his intention is to erase Jill from the computer files].

Upon returning to his mother's apartment, he finds Jill in his mother's bedroom. She gracefully twirls around and adopts various modeling poses, while wearing one of his mother's long blonde wigs and sheer diaphanous nightgowns - she is transformed into the likeness of his dream girl (his dreams have become reality). She is seductively ready to make love, even after learning she has been deleted from the central computer:

Jill: What do you think? Is it me? Well?
Sam: You don't exist anymore. I've killed you. (He holds up a printout of her two-sided profile with the words DELETE running diagonally across the paper.) Jill Layton is dead.
Jill: Care for a little necrophilia? Hmmm?

Sam jumps head-first into the bed at Jill and they embrace. The overhead canopied curtain above his mother's bed forms a circular iris that inventively closes - to keep the audience from viewing their passionate sexual encounter.

In his 7th brief daydream, as a winged mechanical bird, Sam soars upward into the blue sky with his angelic dream girl holding on. Back in reality, she appears naked (and without the wig) at the end of his mother's bed, with a pink bow wrapped around her bare breasts. She greets him with an enticing: "Merry Christmas" - as he pulls on the pink bow to 'unwrap her' breasts, and she crawls over to him for a naked embrace under satin sheets: ("Something for an executive?" - she asks).

While kissing her, another Buttle-style attack commences. A circular section of the ceiling falls with a thud to the floor, and storm troopers swing through a window, slide down a pole (they literally 'drop in'), and break through the door. The two are surrounded, as Sam vainly scrambles to hide and protect his lover under the sheets. He tries to convince them that she doesn't exist: "She's dead. She's - this is a friend of mine. Check the list!"

The screen goes black, and machine gun fire sounds.
Jill cries out: "No, NO!"
(Presumably, she has been executed, off-screen, literally, while Sam is taken away.)

In one of the holding areas of Information Retrieval, Sam is strait-jacketed in a full body bag and detained, and the multiple charges (and his options) are rapidly read against him by interrogators. Charges include: giving aid and comfort to the enemy, concealing a fugitive from justice, passing confidential documents to unauthorized personnel, destroying government property, forging a signature, misdirecting Ministry funds, tampering with Central Services' supply ducts, obstructing law and order, bringing disrepute upon the government's name, disrupting the Ministry of Information Retrieval's internal communications system, and wasting time and paper. He is asked to save money and keep costs down by pleading guilty, amidst the sounds and screams of other tortured victims. In his mind, Sam imagines the questioners to be baby-faced mutants.

He is seated within a gigantic smokestack dome, with the canvas bag removed from his head. Wheel-chaired Mr. Helpmann - wearing a Father Christmas costume - asks kindly: "Sam, what are we going to do with you?" Sam pleads: "Where's Jill? I've got to find her. Please, you've got to get me out of here....Oh, please, help me." Helpmann assures Sam: "I'm doing everything within my power. But the rules of the game are laid down, and we all have to play by them - even me." Sam again begs: "This is all a mistake. You've got to understand that....I'm not a terrorist! You must know that! Please, please, get me out of here....Please, please Mr. Helpmann, help me find Jill." And then Sam is told of Jill's fate: "Sam, I think I ought to tell you. I'm afraid she's upped stumps and retired to the pavilion. Thrown in the towel - dead" - he nods that she is dead: ("Yes, it's all a bit confusing but, it seems she was killed resisting arrest"). And then Sam cryptically confesses to also being responsible for Jill's death: "No, no, it's alright, I did that" -- Helpmann confirms Sam's involvement: "The odd thing is, it appears to have happened twice, a bit of a disputed call, I'm afraid." After Helpmann is wheeled off, Sam's canvas head covering is replaced.

When the canvas bag is again removed, two brutal-looking guards place a bicycle-style metal helmet on his head. The camera tracks backward at a dizzying pace, revealing that he is strapped into a torturer's chair in the middle of a circular platform that is situated under a vast, dark dome (with a floor made of metal grids stretching out from all sides). [Note: His mechanical wings have been clipped and he cannot escape.] As Sam is strapped down, one experienced guard advises Sam that he mustn't prolong his struggle, thereby incurring expensive billing charges for the cost of his own punishment ("information retrieval") [Note: It is remarkable that the government bills its citizens for their own incarceration, detention and punishment!]:

Don't fight it, son. Confess quickly. If you hold out too long, you could jeopardize your credit rating.

Next to Sam is a tray of tools of torture (a power drill, wrenches, sharp knives and tweezers, a rubber ball, a frontal lobotomizer, and an extractor) - and an instrument panel with dials to control the amount of electrical shock.

A white-coated technician from Information Retrieval advances toward Sam's point-of-view (a stationary camera) - as he approaches, it becomes apparent that he wears a pock-marked, smiling baby mask [Note: he is the literal embodiment of the Forces of Darkness in Sam's earlier dreams]. He pauses when he recognizes the prisoner, looks backward, and then becomes resolved to continue his walk. Sam recognizes his torturer and pleads for mercy: "Jack, I'm innocent. Please help me...This is all a mistake." Jack partially removes the mask for a short moment and covers the microphone, only to call Sam a "stupid bastard." Then, he resumes his search for the right instrument: "This is a professional relationship."

[In reality, this final sequence - until film's end - is another of Sam's self-deluding dreams or fantasies.] As Jack moves closer with a sharp tool, a rifle shot strikes the center of the baby mask's forehead, and blood splatters out. He rips off the mask and falls dead at Sam's feet. Roving spotlights reveal that a horde of commandos are descending on ropes from the top of the huge dome to triumphantly rescue Sam. They are led by a daring Tuttle, who again advises: "Call me Harry." Sam is safely released from the torture chair amidst a gun-battle and then led through the outer part of Room 5001 where the typist (while reading a tabloid novel) is busily transcribing the sounds of the attack. Another shoot-out occurs in the lobby of the building as they attempt to make it outside. The desk porter adjusts the TV security monitor to get a better view. One image pays homage to the famous Odessa steps sequence in Battleship Potemkin (1925) (later copied in The Untouchables (1987) and also in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)) - a woman is shot through her spectacles, a vacuum cleaner unit (the baby carriage in the earlier film) careens down steps, and Cossack-like guards advance in a line with guns drawn.

Once they are outside, Tuttle and Sam seek cover in front of a MELLOWFIELDS poster. Obligingly, Sam pushes down on a detonation plunger offered by Tuttle, resulting in a series of tremendous explosions that rock the Ministry building. Sparks, flames, pieces of concrete, and sheets of paper float down from the sky. The two reach the shopping mall, where everyone seems oblivious to the rectangular documents raining from above (near a sign urging: KEEP YOUR CITY TIDY). Tuttle discards his commando outfit in a trash receptable, and then steps out into the milling crowd. Pieces of paper begin to stick and magnetically adhere to his body - first to his leg, and then his head, until they ultimately cover him. He begins suffocating under the collection of litter (and paper-work) clinging to him. When Sam reaches his friend and tears off the paper, Tuttle completely disappears and is literally consumed (a visual pun) and destroyed in the swirling pages of information (as he had complained earlier). Sam is spotted by accusatory shoppers and security troops. He flees for refuge beneath a giant "HAPPINESS - We're All In It Together!" poster - echoing the rebellious words of Tuttle, suggesting that the government is hiding the true reality of how horrible life really is.

Sam races through streets to escape, and finds himself in a chapel after pushing through two doors decorated with white crosses. The interior of the chapel looks similar to the domed place of torture - at the end of a theatrical, foot-lit walkway is a platform where a revolving, flower-draped casket (a pink gift box with ribbon) is positioned for a funeral. A close-up of Spiro's face greets Sam and he is led down the aisle to the service for deceased Mrs. Terrain. As the Vicar (Roger Ashton-Griffiths) welcomes her to a new existence as a spirit (that "never grows old"), Sam looks at the mourners in the audience, including Shirley, Dr. Chapman and Dr. Jaffe. [Mrs. Terrain's vain efforts to stop time and prevent its devastating effects have failed.] Sam's red-haired mother giggles while surrounded by handsome male admirers. But when he calls out "Mother!" and she turns around to face him, his mother is transfigured and possesses the face of his dream girl. [In Oedipal terms, Sam's fantasy is fulfilled - his young-looking mother and lover are one and the same. She looks like Jill, but speaks with his mother's voice. The last shot reverts back to the face of his actual mother.]

Storm troopers burst through the giant commemorative photograph of Mrs. Terrain on the platform, and through the front entrance. As Sam attempts to hide from an impending arrest, he leans on the coffin and spills its half-decayed, skeletal remains onto the floor (the acid-treated and decomposed remains of Mrs. Terrain). Terrified, he jumps into the empty casket and falls into the blackness of space in the surrealistic sequence, but emerges on the city streets and alleys - now fused with the monoliths of his dreams. The maze of passageways offer no salvation or escape from the pursuit of the troops from one direction. Other routes are blocked by the forces of darkness, the shackled prisoners, and an insurmountable pile of ductwork. At the top of the debris is a knob that opens a brick door. He slips through the door and then uses the force of his weight to keep anyone from following.

Suddenly, the door becomes one section of the interior of a pre-fabricated house that is being transported - by driver Jill - on her truck. From the cab, she turns and winks at him with a smile. He sinks down with relief, as he realizes that he is reunited with her. Their vehicle travels along a road lined with billboard signs. He rests his head on Jill's shoulder as their drive takes them into an idyllic, rural, pastoral valley. She turns and kisses him. They settle down and create a homestead, in their pre-fab house with a chimney (wisps of smoke rise), next to the valley's creek-bed with a cow grazing, chickens, a garden, and trees - it's the proverbial happy ending.

But their reunion and the fulfillment of Sam's dreams in the real world is only illusory. Sam's eventual escape has been into complete insanity. A close-up of the faces of Helpmann and Jack Lint enter the frame from either side and cover the pastoral backdrop. The green vista suddenly changes to the interior of the domed torture chamber, where Sam is still strapped in the chair on the platform. His left hand has a bloody puncture wound (or stigmata?). The two men commiserate about Sam's death (from a lobotomy?):

Helpmann: He's got away from us, Jack.
Jack: Afraid you're right, Mr. Helpmann, he's gone.

As Helpmann is wheeled away in his chair, the camera rotates around for a partial front-view of Sam's face - his eyes are open, and his face sports a half-smile. Having found escape in his dream world, Sam can be heard humming (and then singing) the tune of the theme song, Brazil.

Then, tomorrow was another day
The morning found me miles away
With still a millions things to say,
Now, as twilight beams the sky above
Recalling thrills of our love
There's one thing I'm certain of,
Return, I will,
To old Brazil.

Sam still sits in the chair in the center of the domed area at the end of the walkway. The scrolling credits begin to play, accompanied by upbeat samba music.

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