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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4


*Also starring: Michael Palin, Kim Greist, Ian Richardson, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Peter Vaughan



Review by Pedro Sena
4 stars out of 4

I think that Monty Python, for the most part was an over indulgent group of comedians, that lacked a solid direction. This was quite apparent in most of their work, in that it was ever changing and rarely took on a different tone from their usual dialogue oriented sketches. There are some bits which were always pleasing, but all in all, while they produced a very good amount of work, they never could reach the beauty of their predecessors, like THE GOONS [ Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe, a BBC serial of radio comedy sketches with various ( same ) characters going through different adventures. ]; or even Peter Cook and Dudley Moore [ with their off the wall Derek & Clive albums ], whose material was beautifully written and acted out.

But Monty Python did have one thing that most of these didn't have. Where the Goons were a radio cartoon, Monty Python mixed in a series of cartoons to their work,... thanks in part to their only American member, Terry Gilliam.

>From the opening sequence of their show ( the news caster is wheeled off thru the streets of London until he is dumped off the peer ), in between their theatrical moments, and on occasion mixed in their films, perhaps this man's work was, consistently, the part which added a little more laissez faire attitude of the spirit to the otherwise quasi intellectual dialogue.

It was no wonder that Terry Gilliam became a film maker, because his work was all visual, and above all, a bit weird, perfect chemistry for the celluloid.

There were a handful of films done by HANDMADE FILMS ( George Harrison's group ) which Terry participated in, I believe the early Python films, Time Bandits, culminating with The Life of Brian, when it was obvious that a small studio wouldn't be able to handle the proportion of growth which these guys were developing. Terry Gilliam designed the settings for THE LIFE OF BRIAN and put together a slick cartoon in the middle of it ( the small spaceship that goes for a trip in the galaxy before crashing next to Reg and the boys ) that set the tone for his later work.

BRAZIL is the first Terry Gilliam film that marked he was on the way to becoming a major director and writer. It was a futuristic tale of a gross computer mistake that did away with the wrong man as a revolutionary, in a society which spends much of its time eliminating those who do not agree or live by the rules,.... a little of agilicism, anyone ...??? ... And amidst all this rumble, is a loner of a guy, who lives his visionary space, and has hopes of leaving the place he inhabits. He fantasizes in an over exuberant fashion, which comes alive in the screen, making it that much bigger,... and a come down when he has to continue on with the daily chores.

His fantasy girl is not only a revolutionary ( he is tired of the senseless system ), but also beautiful, and dreamy, if not a bit too violent at first, until later she relents and becomes .... a woman. Compared to the rest of the women in the film who are mostly vain and totaly overdone with make up.

All in all, it is hard not to appreciate this film, although its pace is too fast for most film go'ers. You have barely figured out what has happened and the next bit is on the way. And if you don't listen carefully, all the lines get wasted. In between, is a beauty of enjoyment and a harsh statement on the modern systems of today, where people do not mean anything, unless they have to be eliminated because they do not fit.

Jonathan Pryce is absolutely excellent. And the endless cast of characters that comes in and out of the film is fun to keep up with. Everyone has a bit part somewhere.

There are few futuristic films that discuss the paranoia, and the fears that we have regarding it. The lack of human-ness is what this film is really about. The ending is most satisfying in that for once the FANTASY has won, and the social order does not stand a chance. Sam Lowry has a smile, and that's all that matters to both you and I. The vision has won, the social beast has lost.

Copyright 1994 Pedro Sena

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