Brazil – FLNWO #26

by | May 19, 2015 | Film, Literature & The New World Order | 17 comments

Satire? Farce? Romance? Comedy? Documentary? Dream? Mundane reality? A subversive critique of the system, or merely more predictive programming of an inescapable tyranny? Join us on this month’s edition of Film, Literature and the New World Order as we attempt to answer the deceptively simple question: What is “Brazil”?

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What is Brazil?

Bush: “go out and shop”

6-Year-Old Girl on ‘No Fly’ List

FBI Entraps Americans in Terrorism Sting Operations

Terry Gilliam on Brazil | #BFISciFi

Tom Stoppard biography

Terry Gilliam’s battle to release Brazil in US

Last month’s episode and comments: Pink Cadillac

Next month: The Library of Babel


  1. Great movie and more true to life than what most would suspect. In it, Robert DeNiro plays a rebellious plumber who goes around fixing peoples plumbing in defiance of government mandates (and inefficiencies). At the time, the thought of needing a rogue plumber was pretty funny and original because such a thing would never be needed in real life, right?

    Unless of course you live in a nanny-state like Australia where the government mandates what temperature you can have your water at (I kid you not). We had our hot water unit replaced just before Christmas and at the time I noticed the plumber putting a temperature governor on it that locks the temperature at 50c. Hot enough for a shower, not hot enough to wash dishes. He said he had to install it because the government said so and he’d be in trouble if he didn’t.

    If anyone has De Niro’s number tell him his services are required.

    • So true!

      Little open source controllers like the Ardunios a good for showing your whitegoods who’s boss. (

      WARNING: Playing with mains electricity is dangerous and kills dozens of people each year, however considering that Democrocide kills more than a couple of million people each year – tinkering with electricity is still a lot safer than voting!

  2. It is cool James, WE KNOW that you are working your butt off. That much is obvious! My friends were BLOWN AWAY with the McVeigh Podcast, people who did not even know who you were, now they do!
    So I believe that you have a few more subscribers and donors now.
    In fact I wish that you would work LESS! Spend some more time with your little boy, since he will only be 2 years old once. 2,3 and 4 are my favorite age for children. The stuff they say is hilarious!
    A Mexican saying is: “Only the children and the drunk tell the truth!”

  3. Hi Lincolnlea,

    In Blade Runner it was ALWAYS known that the girl was a replicant, what was special about her was that she had no ‘expiration’ date. What was unknown was whether or not the main character was a replicant. One had to put the clues together and make their own decision about that (I thought yes). In the directors cut the happy-ever-after ending was not there.

  4. Hmm…looks like I chose the wrong movie to review. Anyway, I agree that the replicant test / psychopath test presents an obvious (and interesting) parallel, but that’s a discussion for another thread.

  5. Thanks for letting us know about that interview. I was racking my brain during this episode trying to remember which comedian (or director or playwright?) said that he had given up on humour because the world had become un-parodyable. It may indeed have been that Cleese interview I was thinking of. If anyone has a link I’d be happy to read/hear/see this interview again.

    • Nice find, Octium. I knew that was one of McVeigh’s aliases, but never thought of the connection. And there is a Buttle/Tuttle mix-up in there, isn’t there?

  6. Thanks for the tip. I’m looking into the connection now and just for the benefit of others out there I’ll put two of the cookie crumbs on the table:–the-hollywood-producer-behind-hits-pretty-woman-fight-club-and-la-confidential-who-became-a-reallife-james-bond-8958234.html


    But he did produce a lot of films. Are we to believe that all of them were promoting a specific agenda? Some of them? Brazil in particular? I’m interested to hear how people believe this fits in to the bigger picture of this movie in particular.

  7. For me, the appearances of Tuttle – terrorist-rebell – in this kafkaesque world were extremely fascinating and liberating. He and Jill where so courageous, ‘living’ and fighting against the system. Sam was the incarnation of the normal, but somehow ingenuous and upright person, who suddenly starts to ask questions.
    Compared to the boring and miserable life of all the others in that grotesque world, he was trying to break out. So for me, the movie wasn’t so sad, dark and depressing, but extremely grotesque. I think, Terry Gilliam’s intention was to make people laugh. It has always been a part of his message.
    But at the End, there was also an implicit warning: “Don’t be so naive. If you want to break out and you are trying to leave the expected path, you always have to know, what you are doing, just be careful.
    Or as a Scottish Landlady once said to me: Be good, and if you can’t be good, be careful. (Sorry for my English;-)

    • Thank you for that, Moxa4. I can appreciate what you’re saying, and from that perspective maybe it is a little more fun than I was making it out to be. Seen from your perspective I suppose there is a certain joie de vivre that redeems the bleak ending.

  8. OK, now that I have listened to this podcast, I HAVEN’T seen the movie yet! When this came out, I hung with the “Art World Crowd” and I remember being told that this movie was worth watching.
    I still have not seen it! AHHHHHCH!
    Can any kind and helpful person tell me where they where I might be able to find it?
    Just got back from the library and no dice of course as I figured. With all the cut backs our local libraries are in sad shape.

    I HAVE seen the movie on YT, as a play for play live stream but Don’t know if I should trust them. Anybody have any experience with them?
    RSVP and Thanks!
    Or any other suggestions certainly welcome!

  9. Great podcast. I think the real predictive programming is that if you try to make your way out of the system or get too much insight into it and communicate that insight to the wrong people or let it mess with you mind – as the main character (forgot his name) does in his own whimsical and ‘romantic’ way – you will fall within the remit of psychiatry and while not ‘lobotomized’ be officially labelled as crazy. As a interesting parallel one might cite the Fight Club book in which the incredibly perceptive narrator who also happens to be Tyler Durden turns out to be a patient in a mental hospital, with Tyler Durden being his free man’s dream in an unfree world.

  10. Little late to the party here, but I was struck by Corbett’s ideas of the film’s (Brazil) emphasis on the nature of fantasy in the Rube-Goldberg Superstate. It is clearly a primary focus, as is evident from the time the film takes depicting fantasy, in particular the extended fantasy sequence at the end.

    I would posit first that the film is not nearly as bleak as 1984. First, Tuttle, though merely a renegade freelance repairman, is, I believe, allowed to live. I wish they had placed more emphasis on this. Tuttle writes his own history, though not in the conditions of his own making, which is all anyone can ask for.

    Also, the disfunction of the Leviathan always gives a window for hope of an eventual breakdown (primarily with the survival of Tuttle). The most you can say about the government in Brazil is that it sometimes manages to torture and eliminate the right guy. And Lowry isn’t exactly a hard target. He is an antihero throughout the story, whose only real redeeming quality is his ability to hold on to fantasies that are more “real” than the realities to which his mother wishes he would aspire (i.e. moving up and up in the soul-swallowing bureaucracy). His eventual demise, while lamentable, is ultimately no real loss, represents no real loss of hope for renewal, while the total degradation and murder of Winston Smith did just that.

    Lowry was completely ineffectual throughout the film, and never had any ability to translate his fantasy into action in the real world, like Tuttle did. He never really became interested in the goings-on in the world outside, never even displayed the spark of curiosity that graces Winston Smith. Upon meeting the girl of his dreams, he forgets about the Buttle-Tuttle confusion entirely. When he gets the promotion, he has access to some of the most incriminating and illuminating information about the bizarre government that employs him, but he remains utterly uninterested in anything but his fantasy. Even when his dream is talking to him, even as he is in the truck, in the belly of the beast of fake terrorism (or perhaps fake, the audience is never all that sure) he shows no interest at all in the matter, and never relates to the girl as anything other than his fantasy object. The girl could be a hallucination, for all it matters to him.

    He is the equivalent of an adult who does just enough to maintain some livelihood while spending his nights daydreaming of playing shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays. You give him credit for at least holding on to a more colorful dream than making supervisor, but its not if he’d handle it well if, by some miracle, he is invited to minor league camp. Lowry had no family of his own, no love interest outside his fantasy, and most important, was completely incapable of goal-directed, autonomous action. When his moment came, he was hilariously unprepared.

  11. Has anyone commented on the title “Brazil”?

    I never really thought about it until just now. I could look up what TG said about it but I rather think we’re supposed to come up with the answer ourselves.

    So I’ll take a stab.

    Other than the obvious literary reference – “it’s where the NUTS come from” it’s also where certain notable Nazis went to… whilst the rest of us, by and large, know not whether we’re coming or going.

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