The holiday season has come to a close, and everyone is back at the office. What better time to talk about Terry Gilliam’s masterful critique of bureaucracy run amok in his 1985 film Brazil? Coincidentally, the satirical events in Brazil take place during the holiday season as well, but the buffoonish consumer society of Brazil‘s universe continue their holiday shopping and eating with bombs going off in the same room.
It is no surprise to me that this movie makes use of tropes from absurdist drama, such as exaggeratedly out-of-order priorities and juxtapositions of high culture and low culture (or refinement and violence), as Terry Gilliam and his erstwhile co-writer Charles McKeown collaborated on Brazil‘s screenplay with renowned absurdist playwright Tom Stoppard (who you may know as the writer of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and co-writer of Shakespeare in Love). Indeed, the entire movie dances with dark comedy as it finds joy in showing us tragic and despicable horrors straight out of Orwell’s 1984, and I find joy right along with it.
1984 with a Sense of Humor: