Writing the Rules in the Film, Brazil Essay

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Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film, Brazil (1985), lays out a visually stunning and ultimately sinister depiction of a future society hounded by an oppressive government’s desire for absolute control over the population. Of elementary focus in the film are the roles of technology and the subsequent dehumanization of the modern world and the myth of the “free man” under a totalitarian regime. Gilliam shows our current obsession with technology and information as an exasperating evolution of modernity that is, ultimately, leading us nowhere. Repeatedly, we see the shortcomings of a society that is overly reliant upon systematic response (as displayed by the constant demands for paperwork) and completely lacking in individualism and expression…show more content…
The next absurd bit of modernity is the innumerable documents that must be signed, stamped, printed, and filed for anything to be accomplished. For example, the 27B-6 forms required for the men from central service to “turn on a kitchen tap.” Beyond being a nuisance, the paperwork becomes a sort of malevolent symbol for the totalitarian regime. In the case of the wrongfully arrested Mr. Buttle, the amount of receipts and complaint forms that need to be filed, stamped, and signed to complete an inquiry take so long that the Ministry of Information (M.O.I.) tortures and kills him before the wrongdoing can be uncovered. This example of over reliance on the system shows that the primary malevolent force in the film is not necessarily humans but the procedures and institutions they’ve created. The people actually responsible for the ‘wrongdoing,’ such as interrogator Jack Lint, are simply ‘doing their jobs’ and thus somewhat exempt from any wickedness. Further illustrating the villainous nature of the paperwork is Lowry’s final vision of Tuttle being covered by a mass of flying documents and ultimately being consumed by them. A final example of contradictory technology is the constant cosmetic surgery undergone by Sam’s mother and her friend, Mrs. Terrain. While it restores some superficial beauty to Mrs. Lowry, Mrs. Terrain is constantly undergoing procedures to no avail. With each successive

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