If Franz Kafka had been an animator and film director–oh, and a member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus–this is the sort of outrageously dystopian satire one could easily imagine him making. However, Brazil was made by Terry Gilliam, who is all of the above except, of course, Franz Kafka. Be that as it may, Gilliam sure captures the paranoid-subversive spirit of Kafka’s The Trial (along with his own Python animation) in this bureaucratic nightmare-comedy about a meek governmental clerk named Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) whose life is destroyed by a simple bug. Not a software bug, a real bug (no doubt related to Kafka’s famous Metamorphosis insect) that gets smooshed in a printer and causes a typographical error unjustly branding poor Sam as a miscreant.
The movie presents such an unrelentingly imaginative and savage vision of 20th-century bureaucracy that it almost became a victim of small-minded studio management itself–until Gilliam surreptitiously screened his cut for the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who named it the best movie of 1985 and virtually embarrassed Universal into releasing it. This DVD version of Brazil is the special director’s cut that first appeared in Criterion’s comprehensive (and expensive) six-disc laser package in 1996. Although the DVD (at a fraction of the price) doesn’t include that set’s many extras, it’s still a bargain. –Jim Emerson
Higher class of corporate denizens absolutely love metaphors, buzzwords and doublespeak. Corporate conversations are sometimes a bit similar to the way that Mr. Helpmann speaks in the movie Brazil:
“Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless minority of people seem to have forgotten good old-fashioned virtues. They just can’t stand seeing the other fellow win. If these people would just play the game… ”
“We’re fielding all their strokes, running a lot of them out, and pretty consistently knocking them for six. I’d say they’re nearly out of the game.”
“All I can say is don’t fall at the last fence. The finishing post’s in sight. See you in the paddock… keep your eye on the ball. ”
Although Mr. Helpmann only uses sports metaphors, they usually come in a much wider variety as chronicled at jennypeters.com.
For some reason, public transportation in a form of a bus became a symbol of “quick corporate death” as in “you need to document this project for the “hit by a bus scenario”” or “what if Joe gets hit by a bus tomorrow?”. There’s even an expression “bus number” – a number of key people in a company.
Yesterday I’ve encountered the actual “hit by a bus” scenario:
Apparently some old lady got run over by an MTA bus and lost a leg. My favorite cop quote from the incident – “Hey, you better get onto the sidewalk, especially in light of what happened here.”
One of the chores that I had to do weekly when I was little was refilling two large soda syphons in a little kiosk a few blocks away from where we lived in Odessa. You can still buy a soda syphon today, but these are crummy tiny cartridge operated ones. Mine were big metal units that were refilled by what was probably a hundred year old machine operated by a cantankerous old dude or his equally cantankerous wife.
In the kiosk they also sold soda by the glass, adding syrup from a very interesting dispenser that operated on the same principle as a titration buret. The choice of syrups was the same as in soda vending machines.
Once, on a trip to Kiev, my father took me to an amazing giant shop that sold soda. They had a whole forest of those syrup dispensers, all different. The place was operated since before the revolution of 1917 (a huge rarity in the Soviet Union). I remember trying the most delicious tarragon flavored soda.
Actually a very delicious bottled tarragon soda was also sold in the Soviet Union under the brand name “Tarhun”.
Soviet soda was sold in glass bottles with crescent shaped labels. For some weird reason Pepsi was sometimes made available in different bottles with square labels. I’ve never seen a Soviet Coke bottle, but apparently they existed :
I had my first taste of Coke in Moscow in the late eighties in a theater’s concession stand.
The label above and the ones below are from the site of some dude who has an amazing collection of Soviet soda labels. he sells them at $2.50 a pop. I think I’ll buy some. Oooh, these bring back a lot of memories.
One of the neighborhood grocery stores here in Brooklyn once stocked very interesting plastic seltzer bottles from Brazil (I think) that operated as siphons. Iv’e never seen ones like that since.
It’s not my fault that Buttle’s heart condition didn’t appear on Tuttle’s file!
NEW YORK (Reuters) — Police kicked down the wrong door at a New York apartment house on Friday and a woman with a heart condition died on the way to the hospital.
If you search for “Brazil” in google images, this is the first search result.
But I wanted to illustrate the story with this:
My favorite scene in the movie.