Freedom Circle logo
Freedom Circle

Where Can You Find Freedom Today?

1985 comedic film about a bureaucratic future, written and directed by Terry Gilliam

Brazil is a 1985 science-fiction dystopian black comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. The film stars Jonathan Pryce and features Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins and Ian Holm. The film centers on Sam Lowry, a low-ranking bureaucrat trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living in a small apartment, set in a dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines. Brazil's satire of technocracy, bureaucracy, hyper-surveillance, corporate statism and state capitalism is reminiscent of George Orwell's 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, and it has been called Kafkaesque as well as absurdist.

Cast and Crew

Robert De NiroArchibald 'Harry' Tuttle
Jonathan PryceSam Lowry
Terry GilliamDirector, screenplay

Web Pages

Brazil (1985) - IMDb
A bureaucrat in a dystopic society becomes an enemy of the state as he pursues the woman of his dreams.
IMDb rating: 7.9
Metascore: 84
Storyline: Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a harried technocrat in a futuristic society that is needlessly convoluted and inefficient. He dreams of a life where he can fly away from technology and overpowering bureaucracy, and spend eternity with the woman of his dreams. While trying to rectify the wrongful arrest of one Harry Buttle (Brian Miller), Lowry meets the woman he is always chasing in his dreams, Jill Layton (Kim Greist).

Video Products

Brazil - Criterion Collection, 13 Jul 1999
Commentary by directory Terry Gilliam and several other features, 3 discs
Brazil - Widescreen, 1 Apr 2003


Freedom's Flicks: The 20 best libertarian movies of all time, Libertarian Party News, Nov 1999
Reports on The Orange County Register editors' choices for "20 Best Libertarian Movies of All Time"; includes short descriptions for each movie as well as "best libertarian moments" for the top ten
1. Brazil (1985). Watch the painful inner workings of a futuristic bureaucracy where individualism is crushed. Directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam, the movie is a surrealistic view of a society in which everything seems to be run by a kind of global DMV. Trying to fix a bureaucratic snafu that led to the arrest of the wrong man, lowly bureaucrat Sam Lowry becomes himself the enemy of the state ... Best libertarian moment: Harry Tuttle, played by Robert DeNiro, becomes the most-wanted criminal by breaking into buildings to perform ... repairs without—horrors!—a permit.
Imagine a Boot Stamping on Your Face, by John W. Whitehead, 7 Jul 2017
Discusses what the author considers a police state in the United States in 2017 and provides short reviews of 15 films that "may be the best representation of what we now face as a society"
Brazil (1985). Sharing a similar vision of the near future as 1984 and Franz Kafka’s novel The Trial, this is arguably director Terry Gilliam's best work, one replete with a merging of the fantastic and stark reality. Here, a mother-dominated, hapless clerk takes refuge in flights of fantasy to escape the ordinary drabness of life. Caught within the chaotic tentacles of a police state, the longing for more innocent, free times lies behind the vicious surface of this film.


Brazil (1985), by Stephen W. Carson, Films on Liberty and the State
Short commentaries on films "of particular interest to Austrians and libertarians"
Master filmmaker, and former Monty Python animator, Terry Gilliam ... borrows liberally from 1984 and Brave New World to make this visually stunning dystopian film. There are definite moments of quirky humour, but make no mistake, the oppressive government in this film is portrayed in a suitably dark light, (you definitely don't want to be called for a visit to "Information Retrieval"). Don't miss Robert DeNiro as the heroic black market entrepreneur who keeps one step ahead of the government so that he can do good home repairs without all the bureaucracy.
Brazil (1985), by Jon Osborne, Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video, 2001
Libertarian content: 4 (out of 5). Entertainment value: above average.
Much like 1984, this film portrays a bleak totalitarian future. That future includes elements from the recent Nazi and Soviet past: authoritarian-style art, militaristic outfits, torture, and absurd bureaucracy. It also includes elements from the present American situation: suddent, violent, BATF-style entrances into people's homes, vast databases of information on private individuals, and a strange public tolerance for it all ... Director Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python fame, infuses the film with Pythonesque brand of humor—dry, British, and sometimes bizarre.

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Brazil (1985 film)" as of 21 Apr 2024, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.