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Lobotomized ‘Brazil’?

Remember back in 1985, when director Terry Gilliam battled MCA-Universal prez Sid Sheinberg over the final cut of Gilliam’s Orwellian comedy, “Brazil” . . . and won? Well, maybe he didn’t.

Universal released Gilliam’s 131-minute version to numerous raves and a best picture award from the L.A. Film Critics Assn., albeit to lackluster box office.

But last week, a 93-minute version of “Brazil” aired on KTLA Channel 5 as part of a Universal syndicated TV package--it airs again tonight at 8--promoting it with raves actually written about the original.

But scenes have been recut and rescored, using new takes and dialogue dubbed by sound-alike actors. The story--about a clerk who escapes a repressive society through fantasy, but is finally lobotomized--was changed and simplified, with a new, happy ending assembled from unused footage. Elaborate dream sequences now total 47 seconds.

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Who’s responsible?

Sheinberg hadn’t returned calls by press time. But the new “Brazil” closely follows the “radical rethink” devised three years ago by Sheinberg, as described since by two film editors hired to make the changes.

Gilliam, reached in London and apprised of the altered state of his movie, told us: “It’s wonderful, because it gives Sid a chance to break into TV. The only sad thing is, the world doesn’t get to appreciate that Sid made this film.”

Late last year, Gilliam said, Universal asked for his “input” on the latest edit (he declined)--and that the studio wouldn’t let him remove his name.

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Now, he added, “They’re selling it as ‘Brazil,’ the film that won best picture, and that’s nonsense.”


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