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Boys from Brazil, The

Entry updated 3 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1978). Producer Circle. Directed Franklin J Schaffner. Written by Heywood Gould, based on The Boys from Brazil (1976) by Ira Levin. Cast includes Jeremy Black, James Mason, Laurence Olivier and Gregory Peck. 125 minutes. Colour.

Like the novel on which it is based, this is an absurd but entertaining concoction of pulp-thriller conventions with some rather interesting scientific conjecture about environment and heredity. Joseph Mengele (Peck), the notorious Nazi doctor, is discovered to be alive in the Brazilian jungle, where he is manufacturing Clones of Adolf Hitler. Each of these is to be adopted by a family as close as possible to Hitler's own – which means, among other things, the necessity of engineering the deaths of 94 male civil servants as close as possible to their 65th birthday – in the hope that Der Führer will come again. Jewish Nazi-hunter Lieberman (Olivier) slowly uncovers the truth. A main interest of the film is that the arrow of narrative (genetic determinism) is turned aside at the last minute, when the twitching young Adolf-clone turns out to be his own man – or boy. [PN]


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