Literature / The Boys from Brazil

A Simon Wiesenthal Center operative finds something big. All around the world.

A 1976 novel by Ira Levin, it was adapted into a 1978 film starring Laurence Olivier (in his last Academy Award - nominated role) as Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman and Gregory Peck as Dr Josef Mengele. The Academy - Award nominated score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

The novel and film are a speculative fiction type story involving infamous real-life Nazi scientist Mengele (known as the "Angel of Death" for the extent of death he inflicted upon his victims during the Holocaust) trying to resurrect the Third Reich by cloning Hitler and recreating the events of his youth in order to make sure his Hitler Clones become as much like the original as possible.

Unfortunately for him, Mengele has a group of devoted Nazi hunters on his trail...

Tropes featured in this work include:

  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Villainous example, as Mengele's superiors torch his base and kill his men.
  • And Starring: "And Introducing Jeremy Black." Black never had another screen credit, though he did do some stage work.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The Wheelock family has about a dozen well-trained dobermans.
  • Apocalypse Hitler
  • Argentina Is Naziland: Paraguay and Brazil, in this case.
  • Car Fu: In the film, one of the assassins uses his car as a weapon to murder a German postman.
  • Cassandra Truth: Mengele tells one of the Hitler clones his true origins. It fails.
  • Children Are Innocent: In spite of the fact that most of the boys from Brazil are clearly budding sociopaths, Lieberman is against their assassination, since they haven't committed any crimes.
  • Cloning Gambit: Mengele's plot is to create new, original Hitlers by cloning him and recreating his upbringing.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Their back up plans have back up plans.
  • Creepy Blue Eyes: The Paraguayans in Mengele's compound and all of the cloned Hitlers.
  • Dated History: The movie puts Mengele in Paraguay (though the mothers of the kids are Brazilian), his speculated real life location. He truly went there for sometime, but in the 1970s he was really in Brazil (where he died in 1979, meaning that besides the deteriorated health he could have seen the movie).
  • Decoy Protagonist: Barry in the movie.
  • The End... Or Is It?: In the ending, one of the Hitler clones gets really absorbed and excited about his pictures of Mengele's dead body. There are still up to 94 more of them around the world, ticking timebombs.
  • Expendable Clone: Averted. While Mengele's superiors want the project scrapped, Mengele's very aware that his clones are aging in real time, and that each is irreplaceable.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The dogs don't like Mengele.
  • Failure Hero
  • Gone Horribly Right: Mengele suddenly finds himself wishing that his cloned Hitlers weren't quite so sadistic.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Mengele finds himself at the mercy of one of his cloned Hitlers. Oops.
  • Hunting Accident: One of the parents' murders is disguised as such.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Josef Mengele goes from, essentially, a psychotic State-sponsored Serial Killer who was, in reality, a totally incompetent scientist; to the Diabolical Mastermind behind both a cloning project at least a century ahead of its time, and an elaborate political scheme to recreate the Fourth Reich.
    • Adolf Hitler, too, in the sense that merely creating a clone of him (and raising him in a near-identical way) is enough to potentially bring about The End of the World as We Know It. If nothing else, he is dreaded enough that everyone fears this outcome. Social, political, economic factors and everything else be damned!
  • Large Ham: Both protagonists are enjoying their roles, particularly Peck.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident
  • Nazi Hunter
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: James Mason has a truly fake attempt at a German accent.
  • Secondary Character Title
  • Society Marches On: The description of cloning is painstakingly detailed, as the concept was relegated to more futuristic scifi at the movie's release.
    • Also subverted, as the description remains far more accurate than most most examples of cloning in Hollywood.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Mengele asks his superiors why he can't "just shoot him", only to be denied...
  • You Cloned Hitler!: Probably the Trope Codifier.
  • You Killed My Father: The Nazis plan is to kill the boys' fathers to replicate Hitler's origin story. But one of them, after knowing Mengele killed his old man, sends the dogs to attack him.

Alternative Title(s): The Boys From Brazil