(Creepy) FRIDAY FUNNY: Somewhere In The 20th Century

Back in 1985, Terry Gilliam directed an offbeat film entitled, Brazil. Very dark, the film never achieved commercial success. Yet, it presents both a futurist and retro interpretation of the absurdity of administrative bureaucracy—one that still holds true today in many ways. Think of George Orwell’s 1984 with a dash of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” (the Argument Sketch, for instance), and you get Brazil.

Here’s the opening scene:

Which is immediately followed by this scene:

The underlying messages of this opening for those of you who haven’t seen the film, which is funny in places (“Hi there. I want to talk to you about ducts.”), while being extremely dark and foreboding (“bad sportsmanship” is quoted as the cause of terrorist attacks) is best summarized by the words of ChrisJMoor, originator of the offering on YouTube:

Terry Gillian’s comic masterpiece is inspired by Orwell’s 1984. Set in a shopping-crazed, terrorist-plagued totalitarian state, it extends on Gillian’s obvious hatred of bureaucracy…. It has little to do with the country Brazil.

A stark warning about mass surveillance and personal privacy issues from the days when CCTV was barely existent and personal records minimal and not stored on computers.

The end of the second scene is a bit like today’s workplace and “recreational” Internet surfing (while the boss isn’t looking)…sort of like what you’re doing right now…

It’s one of my favorite films and has been since it first came out.


  1. Mine, too. I am an architect so the themes are especially relevant to my work, and I share Gilliam’s hatred of bureaucracy, having worked for the City of New York for seven years in two separate agencies, Dept. of Parks & Recreation and the Dept. of Environmental Protection…”Parks” was shit collection, “DEP” was shit transport.

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