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Christopher Webster [Film Festival 01.19.11] movie news interview

Richard Kelly, director of The Box, Donnie Darko and Southland Tales (also one of my favourite directors) recently spoke with the author of the book "The Film That Changed My Life", Robert K. Elder, about Terry Gilliam's Brazil - one my own favourite films.

Here is some of what Kelly had to about Terry Gilliam’s masterpiece and how it changed his life:

"I would best describe Brazil as a portrait of bureaucracy run amok, or capitalism run amok. It’s probably the most visionary example of an alternate universe portrayed with such incredible logic. It’s incredibly absurd, but it’s incredibly accurate to the system that exists in our world. I would call it one of the most profound social satires that has ever been filmed."

"I started reading about Terry’s other films, having seen The Fisher King prior to that. I was aware of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen but I had never seen Brazil. I grew up in Midlothian, Virginia, where you’d be lucky to find Brazil in a Blockbuster Video... When I arrived in film school, I suddenly found myself with this gigantic library of LaserDiscs, and Brazil was one of the first ones I checked out at the library."

"It is a documentary film with the brushstrokes of a profoundly mad genius who can create a fantasy world, but he created a fantasy world literally within—he re-created our world in a different visual language. I had never seen that done in any other film. Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is maybe the closest approximation, but I think that Brazil certainly said many things that Metropolis couldn’t, maybe because Lang didn’t have the benefit of sound. Gilliam has an artist’s eye."

"Having discovered Terry’s work and seeing that he followed a similar course, beginning in the visual arts as a cartoonist working with Monty Python, I felt a kinship to him. The visual design in Brazil is so astonishing, my head almost exploded. You have to give Terry, Tom Stoppard, and Charles McKeown credit for explaining what was wrong with the world in very elegant strokes that are alien to us because the world is not our own, but it is incredibly familiar because it is absolutely our own."

"If I’m taking inspiration, or if I’m going to blatantly rip off my favorite artists, I try not to make it quite so blatant. But I think the greatest thing I learned from Terry is that every frame is worthy of attention to detail. Every frame is worthy of being frozen in time and then thrown on a wall like an oil painting, and if you work hard on every frame, the meaning of your film becomes deeper, more enhanced. New meaning emerges in your story because of your attention to detail. It is also developing a visual style that is your own, that is hopefully unlike anything that has been done before. He gave me something to aspire to as a visual artist but also as a storyteller, as one who aspires to be a social satirist. I have a long way to go, but I aspire to do some of the things that Terry has done, and to do them as well as Terry has done."

That's just a small portion of the epic conversation, so if you're interested to read more from the director of Donnie Darko, The Box and Southland Tales you can continue the journey here.

Never seen Brazil? Order the Criterion Collection's 3-Disc set!

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