8 July 2016

THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL. (1978) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL. (1978) BASED ON THE BOOK BY IRA LEVIN. DIRECTED BY FRANKLIN J. SCHAFFNER. SCREENPLAY BY HEYWOOD GOULD. MUSIC BY JERRY GOLDSMITH.
STARRING LAURENCE OLIVIER, GREGORY PECK, JAMES MASON, LILLI PALMER, UTA HAGEN, MICHAEL GOUGH, PRUNELLA SCALES, BRUNO GANZ, DENHOLM ELLIOTT AND JEREMY BLACK. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Did you know that The Boys From Brazil are little Hitlers...? So says Homer Simpson from THE SIMPSONS anyway, and he might just be right at that. This is a marvellous film. I revisit it every year or two and it surprises and impresses me anew every time, one of the few films that can actually do that.

It's not just a terrific film as and of itself, although of course it is, but it's also special for another reason. It brings together three iconic actors from the golden age of cinema who are nearing the ends of their careers and coaxes exemplary performances from them.

Laurence Olivier in particular was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Ezra Liebermann the Nazi-hunter, but James Mason is excellent too and Gregory Peck plays his role as the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele so well that the results are terrifyingly good. You could be forgiven for feeling like he really is the evil character he's portraying. It's some mighty fine acting there.

Ezra Liebermann, loosely-based on the real life Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, has had Josef Mengele in his sights for some time when we, the viewers, come in. Everyone, including Liebermann, knows that the Nazi doctor notorious for his inhumane experiments on concentration camp inmates during the war has absconded to Paraguay.

Liebermann has no leads on his prey, however, until he is contacted by a young man who claims that Mengele is hosting a top-secret gathering of Nazi war criminals in a Paraguayan hotel. He has Mengele on tape ordering the assassinations of ninety-four middle-aged men all over Europe, Canada and the United States within a specified time period.

These bizarre orders (which must be obeyed...!) will apparently further the Nazi cause and help to bring about the Fourth Reich. Now Liebermann has his first real lead. He strikes while the iron is hot. He investigates the deaths of these ageing civil servants, which have already commenced, and what he discovers fills him with a horror so all-encompassing he can scarcely credit it.

I'm dying to tell you what he discovers, but the secret plot is just so ingenious and brilliantly chilling that I wouldn't want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't already seen it. The hunt is on, anyway, and the tension and excitement build up gradually until the viewer is blown away by a grisly and unforgettable climax.

This film deserves every ounce of praise that's ever been heaped on it. In all honesty, it should have won a ton of Academy Awards instead of only being nominated. There, I've said it, haha.

Gregory Peck has the dangerous light of fanaticism in his eyes as he tries to convince James Mason's Eduard Seibert that his complex and insane plan will work. I love Mengele's South American house, with the topless maidservant, the giant portrait of Hitler in pride of place and the charts with the names of the ninety-four intended victims on it. It's the home of a man with a plan, an evil plan.

With his neat black moustache, jet-black hair and maniacal facial expressions, he could pass for the man himself if he'd only been a little shorter. This impression is accentuated when we see him losing his temper. Hitler, of course, was famous for his mad outbursts of bile and vitriol.

Bruno Ganz is superb as the scientist who just so happens to be an expert on cloning. Cloning...? Now do you get it? Snigger. I won't tell. Incidentally, Ganz went on to play Adolf Hitler himself in the 2004 film DOWNFALL, also known as DER UNTERGANG.

It was surely a career-best performance. It's a breathtakingly good film about the fall of the Third Reich and the last few tensely claustrophobic days in Hitler's bunker. I doubt if anyone has ever
done a better job than Ganz of portraying the fanatical little Austrian who caused the Second World War. That'd certainly be something to put on your CV, wouldn't it? 1939-1945: Caused Second World War...!

Ganz also played a Jewish law professor who'd been in a concentration camp in the 2008 film THE READER, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes. It's an interesting if harrowing film which you should check out if you get the chance.

Kate Winslet plays a former concentration camp guard who's being tried for war crimes, plus she gets stark-nekkid with a young fella in it. Typical Kate Winslet. Always getting her baps out...!

Dear old Michael Gough, who starred as Arthur Holmwood in Hammer's famous 1958 production of DRACULA, has a small part in this as one of the middle-aged civil servants intended for the chop. He does a prissy disapproving face so well you'd have to see it to believe it.

Prunella Scales, better known as Sybil Fawlty from British sitcom FAWLTY TOWERS, plays his missus. All she gets to do is scream...!

I like the scene with Uta Hagen as Frieda Maloney. She's the imprisoned former concentration camp guard who basically laughs nastily in Liebermann's face and tells him that no-one gives a shit about all that old war stuff anymore. Thankfully, there are plenty of people who think differently, even today.

A youthful-looking Denholm Elliott has a small part as well as a newspaper guy whom Liebermann turns to for help.

Apart from Gregory Peck and Larry Olivier (Yeah, we're mates, he said I could call him that!), I think the best performance comes from young Jeremy Black, who plays all the boys. The boys are all uniformly uppity, self-important little shits whom one could well imagine turning into you-know-who at a later stage.

Black's coldness and callousness and utter lack of empathy for his fellow man in this role is frightening. His superb performance makes you simultaneously believe in what's happening and thank the Lord that it's only a film, if you know what I mean.

Kudos to the young actor. I wonder what became of him. His dad, played by John Dehner, does a top job also of portraying an equally unpleasant character. Like father, like son, eh? I suppose we should give a shout-out to the doggies too. As Mr. Burns from THE SIMPSONS would say, 'It's their Christmas too...!'

Anyway, I've probably said enough now about this brilliant sci-fi thriller with all the history stuff thrown in. I'll leave you now to have a watch of it for yourself. Enjoy it, and always remember this. The Boys From Brazil Are Little Hitlers...!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







No comments:

Post a comment