Ten Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Brazil’

The popular 80s classic is full of surprises

Directed by Terry Gilliam, this widely acclaimed sci fi film takes place in a dystopian, consumer-driven world that explores the consequences that come with relying on technology. Many have described Brazil as a satire due to the way it mockingly depicts a totalitarian government.

On March 28, join us as we screen Brazil after a short performance by The Rural Alberta Advantage at The Royal Cinema. The event is free, as part of Indie88’s Band and a Movie series.

In the meantime, here are 10 things that you probably didn’t know about the 1985 film.

The Theme Song Was Made Famous Worldwide by Walt Disney

“Aquarela do Brasil,” aka “Brazil” (the English version), is a Brazilian song that was written in the 30s by Ary Barroso. After becoming associated with Brazil’s dictator, Getúlio Vargas, “Aquarela do Brasil” became quite well-known in Brazil. However, the song reached international fame after being used in Walt Disney’s 1942 film Saludos Amigos.


Katherine Helmond’s plastic surgery makeup gave her blisters

During an interview Katherine Helmond did with Archive of American Television, Helmond described having to wake up at 5 A.M. to have a mask glued to her face, which she wore for about 10 hours a day every day that she was filming. The mask caused her to break out in blisters, which she had to return home to see a doctor for. According to Helmond, upon visit the doctor said “Don’t ever do this again.” Immediately after, however, Helmond returned to set to film one final scene. On her experience with the whole thing, Helmond said “Ultimately, it was worth it.”


The Audience Walked Out on the Movie when it First Aired in Theatres

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gilliam mentioned that when Brazil first aired, it wasn’t quite as well received as it is now.

“[…] with Brazil, what people don’t remember is half the audience would walk out. Now it’s held as a classic, blah, blah, blah – bullshit! They were walking out. So I’m used to some of my films not being appreciated at the time.”



Terry Gilliam’s Crew Found Robert De Niro Annoying

According to IMDB, De Niro wasn’t the easiest guy to work with. Apparently the actor took 25-30 takes for his scenes and still didn’t get his lines right. This ended up doubling the amount of time Gilliam envisioned to film De Niro’s character.


The Torture Chamber is Now an IKEA

The scene where the film’s star Sam Lowry was tortured was once a cool tower in London. Since then, the site has been demolished and turned into an IKEA. However, a few of the streets on the new site have been named after the movie, such as Brazil Close.


Jack’s Mask was Based on a Real Mask

You know that bloody creepy mask that probably haunted your nightmares for weeks after seeing this movie? Well, apparently that mask, which was worn by Michael Palin in the film, was inspired by a mask Gilliam’s mom gifted to him. What a nice present.


Most of the Score Music is a Variation of the song “Brazil”

The film’s soundtrack is well received by critics, and I’m sure if you’ve listened to it you’ll notice this, but apparently the whole score is just a variation of the movie’s original song “Brazil.”


George Orwell’s 1984 was a main inspiration

Terry Gilliam admitted that Brazil, which was originally called 1984 ½ during production, was indeed inspired by the famous novel 1984, although Gilliam has reportedly never actually read the book himself.


The Film is Credited with Bringing Steampunk to the forefront

Although this topic is widely debated, Brazil is often referred to as one of the pioneers of bringing the steampunk subgenre to the main screen, due to the film’s industrial and almost mechanical aesthetic.


De Niro Originally Wanted to Play Jack

Robert De Niro, who plays Harry Tuttle, originally wanted to play the character of Jack Lint, which unfortunately was already promised to Michael Palin by Gilliam.


On Tuesday, March 28, The Rural Alberta Advantage will perform a short acoustic set followed by a screening of their favorite film, Brazil. For details, check here.

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