Friday, February 03, 2012


One of my favourite films of all time - and I mean ALL time - is called Brazil. It's by Terry Gilliam. It's a simple story of one man's descent into madness in a dystopian future world. It also has Robert de Niro playing the part of a guerilla heating engineer flying through the night skies secretly fixing people's heating and ventilation systems. He meets a papery end. If that doesn't grab you then what will?

Without going in to too much detail, there's a lot more to this film than that and you must see it. It has a particularly catchy melody which is strung throughout the film - whenever I hear the tune it always catches my attention. It's been covered by many different people in many different styles - the tune is actually called Aquarela do Brasil (Watercolour of Brazil) and was written by Ary Barroso in 1939.

I was reading with the TV on in the background this evening and the tune came on. I looked up and it was a commercial for Cadbury's chocolate. The music was what caught my attention. What surprised me is that they've have shamefully and utterly plagiarised the film.

In the film the main character travels around in what we in the UK call a bubble car - one of those strange little single-seater cars that only go at about 30 mph and are powered by a very noisy and inefficient motorcycle engine. These feature throughout the commercial.

The commercial also features people acting furtively, popping up unexpectedly out of walls and pavements - also something of a theme throughout the film.

Finally, people flying. In the film, dream sequences involving flying are where the main character goes to escape the hell in his real life (or is it?) You decide.

Whatever....I hope Cadbury's are rewarding Terry Gilliam generously for taking his ideas and using them to sell chocolate bars. He famously needs all the help he can get. He has had more production disasters in his films than anyone I know. If Cadbury's are not crediting him then shame on you - and I expect the litigation to start soon.

4/2/2012 - I should've included a link to the ad so you could decide for yourselves - yer tis...


Gia said...

Well, in their defense, maybe they are? Or it falls into that fair use/spoof thing? Like, it's done as an ode to the film and not a rip off of it?

King of Scurf said...

Mayor Gia: I'm not sure they can pass it off as an ode/homage to his work. I read recently how much George Lucas makes for even the most oblique reference to Star Wars by advertisers.

Perhaps I'm a little hasty to assume it's plagiarism - I dearly hope it's not.

nursemyra said...

I doubt it, Cadbury's wouldn't want the bad publicity. Too many fans of Brazil would get the references.

Did you see Lost in La Mancha? Fabulous documentary. I felt so sorry for Terry Gilliam, film making is an unforgiving business

Terra Shield said...

Oh wow. I do hope it wasn't actual plagiarism. That said, a lot of ads here use music with horribly modified cheesy lyrics and a slight tweak in the arrangement to the tune itself. I don't know if any of these got the permission that is required or not.

King of Scurf said...

nursemyra: He is incredibly unlucky. Heath Ledger died midway through making a Terry Gilliam film.

Terra: Using recognisable tunes definitely requires permission and payment to the original artiste/writer. Using someone else's ideas/visions is more difficult to prove.

Nota Bene said...

Brazil is a fantastic it. I haven't seen the Cadbury's ad. Given how their current owners went about buying the business I assume plagiarism - I shall continue my boycott

King of Scurf said...

NB: Official snack food sponsor of London 2012. How will you resist? ;)

King of Scurf said...

I've added a link to the ad in the blog post...if anyone's interested.