This chapter argues that all Terry Gilliam's films are exercises in hybrid textuality, but the dystopian form taken up in Brazil makes this his most overtly political work. Brazil initially is replete with utopian dreams, but as its protagonist Sam Lowry gains a better understanding of the dystopian reality, his dreams increasingly take on the dystopian tenor of that environment. Lowry's fantasies are critically analysed in terms of their narcissism and escapism, but even if we judge these negatively, he at least inhabits a more stimulating world than those around him. In Munchausen, by constructing the framework of the theatre around the tales themselves, Gilliam and Charles McKeown create a form of transitional space between the worlds of fantasy and reality. The Theatre Royal provides a space where fantasy can be presented, while serving as a refuge from the murderous reality of the besieged town that surrounds the audience.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers memory as a specific framework for the study of popular film, intervening in growing debates about the status and function of memory in cultural life and discourse. It examines the relationship between official and popular history and the constitution of memory narratives in and around the production and consumption of American cinema. The book explores the political stakes of cinematic discourse in its production of national memory. It also examines the discursive and institutional apparatus that has come to support the memory of Classic Hollywood in British cultural life. The book also considers both the presence of music and colour in nostalgia films of the 1990s and the impact of digital and video technologies on the representational determinants of mediated memory.