Terry Gilliam's masterpiece, and the second in the "Dreams" trilogy (the other two: Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen). It takes place in a not-too-distant-future dystopia where Sam Lowry is a low-level bureaucrat, who through a series of mistakes and errors is put in contact with the Girl Of His Dreams (literally). Daydreaming throughout, Sam merely tries to coast along and do what he's told.
This is a film where the story about the film is possibly more famous than the film itself. Gilliam's original edit was a little too long for his US contract; it'd been released in Europe to good reviews and popularity, but his contract said he'd need to shave seven minutes off of the film. Which isn't a problem, or so he thought. So, he does, and presents his edit. However, while Gilliam was in the editing room, the studio, Universal, headed by Sid Sheinberg, decided that they didn't like the film; they thought it was too dark and confusing, not to mention long, and so they did their own 90 minute cut, called the "Love Conquers All" version by fans. Only problem – this version of the film actually negated the point of the original film.
For some reason, Gilliam wasn't pleased with the prospect of the studio releasing this version, and so he went on the offensive. There was many a back-and-forth, culminating in a full-page ad placed in Variety, saying "Dear Sid, Why Won't You Release My Film, Brazil? Signed, Terry Gilliam". The Oscar deadline was coming up quickly, and Gilliam and his producer figured that if they self-released it to Critic Screenings in time, they might have a chance to shame the studio into releasing Gilliam's US cut. The film popped up on many a critic's best list for 1985, though strangely – it seemed divided by East Coast/West Coast – West Coast critics loved the film, East Coast critics panned it. The Oscar plan didn't work (though it was nominated the next year for art direction and screenplay), but it did win the Best Picture, Director and Screenplay at the LA Film Critics' Association Awards. By this time, the studio was wearing down and Brazil was looking to be a black eye for them, so, they unceremoniously dumped Gilliam's US cut to theatres in a limited run, where it didn't do very well.
However – whenever Brazil runs on TV, it's the "Love Conquers All" edit; it's not a last dig at Gilliam, though. The real reason is much more mundane – for a movie to run on TV in a standard 2 hour slot, it needs to be cut down to ~90 minutes. Gilliam's version was 2 hours and change, while the "Love Conquers All" one is about 90 minutes. So, why bother re-cutting a film when you've got a perfectly good 90 minute version already?
The Criterion Collection put out a box set with Gilliam's Director's cut (slightly different than both the US and European edit – about the same length as the European, but a different last shot that Gilliam hit upon for the US edit, and then liked better, so he put it in the Director's Cut), and the "Love Conquers All" edit, along with some documentaries and other whiz-bang special features. It's well-worth it, although in an amusing error, the Universal single disc of Brazil, despite having the runtime on the back being the same as the original US edit is ALSO the Director's Cut version. So, Gilliam had the last laugh after all. (At least, until the criminally underrated The Adventures of Baron Munchausen came out…)