‘Brazil’ soars on to American Region free Blu-ray with a surprisingly good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I say ‘surprisingly’ as my memory of watching the first 20 minutes of the film years ago is of a very soft and grainy image. Any softness in the Blu-ray is reserved for the dream sequences where that is the order of the day. The rest of the film has a very acceptable sharpness with plenty of image detail on show. In close-ups, skin pores are there to be seen.
While the overall colour palette is generally drab contributing to the look of the film, skin tones take on a healthy pink hue. Primary colours have a cleanliness to them thanks to the extra saturation of the High Def format. We get deep, solid blacks in the shadows but this also combines with nicely resolved shadow detail – a fine balancing act. As you’d expect, contrast is pulled back somewhat to aid the rather gloomy lighting. The print itself reveals a fine veil of film grain but it’s not intrusive at all, although it is more noticeable in Sam’s dream sequences. We don’t get a totally pristine image due to the odd speck of dirt here and there, but it’s not bad at all.
This is fitting transfer that makes the film look the best it ever has on the home video market.
The audio on ‘Brazil’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix that thankfully tries to remain faithful in its own way to the original by not trying to suddenly become a completely engulfing experience. This would have made it not sit well with the visuals. Instead, the new mix concentrates on ensuring that the mostly centre weighted dialogue is clear and intelligible while a wide front soundstage is used to play out the rest of the ‘live action’ effects. The surrounds are generally used for low level atmospheric effects, although they do spring to life when Tuttle’s troops open fire near the end of the movie. The Subwoofer isn’t nudged into life very often, probably due to the style of the original material. The main stereo pair do justice to the ‘Aquerela do Brasil’ number as well as Michael Kamen’s score. While it obviously doesn’t have the sonic clarity of a recent original mix, it does well to bring the sound up to date.
This is a bare bones release with no bonus material. You get the movie and that’s yer lot.
While the Blu-ray scores in terms of picture and sound quality, the Criterion DVD release with its plethora of extra material and all three versions of the film puts this release to shame even with its non-anamorphic print. Still, I suspect a Special Edition Blu-ray won't be too far away.
Terry Gilliam’s magnum opus ‘Brazil’ comes to American Region free Blu-ray with a very acceptable 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While not the 143 minute Director’s Cut many had hoped for, at least it’s not Sid Sheinberg’s 94 minute version. The image is generally sharp with only a fine veil of grain and colours, while muted to match the look of the piece, do benefit from the greater saturation of the High Def format.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio thankfully does not go over the top by attempting to be immersive, but instead concentrates on providing clear and crisp dialogue amid a wide front soundstage with the surrounds being reserved for gentle atmospheric effects. There are no bonus materials on this bare bones release, but the significant increase in quality over previous home video releases will make it a worthwhile consideration.
The film itself is a Sci-Fi cult classic full of imaginative ideas and many warnings for our modern world. A tad scary but also full of dark comedy, it’s well worth overcoming the gloomy outlook. Jonathan Pryce, Robert DeNiro and cast full of great British faces make it one to watch.
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