By Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Mr. Helpmann: He’s got away from us, Jack.
Jack Lint: ‘Fraid you’re right, Mr. Helpmann. He’s gone.
Drew: There are plenty of worthy contenders, but I tend to think of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as having the most contentious final cut in film history. Indeed, as the film languished in post-production hell, both Gilliam and the chairman of Universal Pictures, Sid Sheinberg took out competing ads in Variety, imploring the other to release their preferred cut of the film. And much of that disagreement came down to the two lines quoted above; the ones that reveal the frenetic, phantasmagoric escape our hero makes is actually his dissociative fantasy — it turns out he never escaped his torture chamber. Since this is a Gilliam film, it’s easy to argue the whole movie is frenetic and phantasmagoric — and it definitely is to some degree — but the ending flies off the rails in a way that really only make sense as a fantasy. It’s an over-the-top “coincidences help the hero” ending that reads as a straight-up parody of Hollywood films, so it’s kind of hilarious that Sheinberg would insist on that ending not being a fantasy. Any savvy viewer would recognize that something is seriously wrong with Winston’s escape, so to insist that there’s nothing is an insult to our intelligence. That is, we know that it’s a fantasy, we just need the movie to be smart enough to agree with us. With their final issue of Kill or be Killed, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips lean into a similarly impossible-to-believe fantasy, along with a twist very much like the one Gilliam always intended for Brazil. Continue reading