The boys from brazil (1978)

Original photography by Henri Decaë

Images and text by Edmond Laccon

Production background

The Boys From Brazil French Movie Poster

THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978) is an international conspiracy thriller based on a novel by Ira Levin, author of ROSEMARY’S BABY.


Henri Decaë

Franklin J. Schaffner

Production design
Peter Lamont

Robert Swink

Production & technical specs

Filming dates:
October 1977 – 14 March 1978

Release date:
October 4th 1978

$12,000,000 (1978)

Aspect ratios:

Panavision (unknown models)

Source resolution/Negative stock:
Eastman 100T 5247 (unverified)

Photographic process:
35mm spherical

Panavision primes and zooms (unknown models)

Approach to location photography


It features a large number of real locations, eschewing process work or sets with the relationship between real locations often being respected.

Vienna is featured as both Vienna and the town of Gladbeck in West Germany. The Kölbrein dam in Austria stands in for a scene in Sweden.

Locations in Lisbon serve for scenes set in Paraguay whilst
London appears as itself.

Vienna / Gladbeck scenes

Shadowing Herr Doring

Scene timecode:

Locations used:
– Rustensteg Brücke, Vienna, Austria
[Google Map]
– Nearby corner of Felberstrasse and Holochergasse, Vienna, Austria
[Google Map]

1977: An establishing shot introduces us to ‘Gladbeck, West Germany’ before the camera begins a 180˚ pan to the right. The passing trains carry the telltale logo of Austrian Railways.

Gladbeck is in fact a real town located near Essen in former West Germany.

2020: The view is from Rustensteg Brücke looking north-east towards Vienna’s Westbahnhof.

The majority of passing trains still seem to use the same two lines. Many railway fixtures remain only slightly updated over 43 years.

1977: The camera continues its purposeful pan to reveal the German actor Günter Meisner as Farnbach.

Meisner had himself played Hitler on numerous different projects. His performance could hardly be less subtle here.

2020: The focal length required to match Decaë’s original field of view is ~38mm (in 35mm terms).

1977: Decaë’s 180˚ pan ends with the camera holding on the south-west view from the bridge.

2020: The same view remains remarkably unchanged despite being 43 years later.

1977: Approaching from ‘Gladbeck bahnhof’, Farnbach eyes his target.

2020: The northern gateway to Rustensteg Brücke. It’s trademark Viennese green colour has been maintained.

Off-camera to the right today is a sport bar.

1977: A jib arm-mounted over-the-shoulder shot reveals a tipsy railwayman exiting the Lorely bar.

Although Farnbach came from the station, he has the keys to a BMW conveniently parked opposite the bar.

2020: The ‘Lorely Bar’ is no more – yet the tree to left and much of the street furniture remain.

Focal length required: ~50mm (in 35mm terms).

1977: After being sexually rebuffed by a woman from the bar, Richard Marner’s boorish ‘Herr Doring’ moves towards his moped.

As with Meisner, Russian-born Marner made a career from playing Nazis yet would end his career playing the Russian president in THE SUM OF ALL FEARS (2002).

2020: Bordering the railway lines, Felberstrasse is much the same.

Focal length required: ~38mm (in 35mm terms)

The Lorely bar in 2020

Potentially all that remains of the crumbling building featured in the original scene.

Going forward

Pushing the points

It would be interesting to revisit using multiple white points for a single film, perhaps being bolder with the execution and exaggerating them to the point of being noticeable for the cinema version whilst reducing their differences for the TV version. Combining this with the possibilities of HDR might also yield satisfying results.
As always these are ideas that await the right project to come along.


Text & contemporary images
Edmond Laccon

With thanks to
David Cortes

Featuring images from
THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL – ITV Granada International

Which ‘look’ next?

NUMB (2016) – a film with an increasingly warped sense of the corporeal.