Jonathan Pryce plays Sam Lowry, a bumbling shade of Orwell’s Winston, a man who actually enjoys being the smartest man in his little corner of the behemoth idiocratic government filled with paranoids, Party members, and quislings all sharing an obsession with tiny screens that play an endless parade of classic films, but absolutely nothing that could bring the actions of the government or society at large into question.
All is well and the Christmas season is in full swing when the swatting of a fly turns into the SWAT-ing of an innocent man who is arrested on suspicion of being a terrorist, and who dies while undergoing interrogation. The dead man has been erroneously charged for government expenses related to his own imprisonment and interrogation under a new program promoted as a way to ease the tax burden of the war on terror.
Sam Lowry gets sucked out of his comfortable shell when a refund check made out to the dead man arrives in his boss’s office. The refund means an error was made somewhere, and everyone is scrambling to avoid the blame. The error snowballs, with Sam trapped in the middle until he is accused of being a terrorist himself and ultimately lands in the interrogator’s chair.
As a last act of desperation, Sam escapes into his last place of refuge, his fantasies.
“He’s got away from us Jack.”
Most folks have their favorite holiday movie that has been watched so many times it has become a tradition to annoy their children and relatives with. “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey is probably one of the most popular next to “Miracle on 34th Street“.
The prescience of Mr. Gilliam’s vision is far more apropos in the current climate of “cancellation”, “deplatforming”, the renewal of the Patriot Act, FBI officers committing fraud before the FISA court, the existence of the FISA court itself, out of control government spending, and the scorched earth politics of our times.
All of the madness is thinly hidden behind the tattered wrapping of the Holiday Season. The endless ongoing exchange of meaningless gifts by over-leveraged people playing a senseless game for years on end because its “tradition”. Its enough to drive one mad…
I cannot help dreaming of my own escape to a Happy Place…
Brazil really IS a Christmas movie because it reminds me that even with all of the social unpleasantness and objectionable people one might encounter during the holiday season, we can always turn off the screens, walk away from the objectionables, and escape into a happy place with a good book.
If anyone knows a hungry literary agent, I have some great escapism just waiting to be published.