On Brazil and Torture
Gilliam came nearest to inventing his own country with
Brazil (1985), one of the key political films of the late 20th century.
Brazil is one of the great political films, an extraordinary mixture of Fellini and Kafka, with a complex force of synthesized images, which belongs to Gilliam alone. A meek, distinctly nonglamorous secretary is taking dictation through earphones. She types up everything she hears in the next room. In the course of time, the viewer of the film deduces that she is compiling an endless transcript of what a victim is saying in a torture chamber. Even if he screams it, she types it up as if he has merely said it. She herself says nothing, and her face betrays no emotion as the words quietly take form. Her boss, the torturer, is played by Michael Palin in the full, sweet spate of his bland niceness. This is the ne plus ultra of torture as an everyday activity. The torture surgery contributes one of the most brain-curdling of the film's many disturbing themes (still revealing their subtleties on a third and fourth viewing). The suggestion seems to be that a torturer need be no more sinister than your doctor.
(via the Rake