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16 June 2008

machines don't fix themselves / the Near Future morphs gracefully & silently into the Recent Past

You know the drill.

Computer workstation (the brand is "ElectriClerk") for employees of The Ministry of Information in the UK. To read the tiny screen, a huge magnifying glass is swiveled down. From the movie "Brazil." Rent and watch it immediately, but be very careful that it's a cut authorized by the director Terry Gilliam.

All the trouble begins when some employee of The Ministry of Information swats an annoying buzzing fly, and the fly's squashed guts change a B into a T on an official government form.

From the draft screenplay of "Brazil," the 1985 movie by Terry Gilliam. The screenplay is credited to the British playwright Tom Stoppard and to Gilliam and Charles McKeown.

"Brazil" is set

SOMEWHERE
IN THE
20TH CENTURY

in England, so it was intended to depict the Near Future. However, 1985 was 23 years ago, so if you see it today -- the 21st Century -- it takes place in the Recent Past. "Brazil" has nothing to do with Brazil, other than that different versions of the famous 1939 song "Brazil" by Ary Barroso play constantly as the leitmotif. (My favorite is the cover by Geoff Muldaur. Wikipedia says there exists a Kate Bush version which the movie didn't use.)

It's about the never-ending struggle between government and bureaucracy, and terrorism and individuality. In the Near Future (or the Recent Past), government, bureaucracy and their hooded anti-terrorism agents are winning bigtime over individuality.


The terrorist in "Brazil" (Robert De Niro) is a plumber named Harry Tuttle who sneaks around London and fixes people's plumbing problems without government authorization. Government anti-terrorism forces are constantly trying to catch and assassinate him and discover his whereabouts by torturing detained innocent citizens who usually know nothing about the matter.

Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) is a low-level official at the Ministry of Information. On top of all his other troubles, which are interfering with his daydreaming, the air-conditioner in his stifling hot apartment has crapped out; it's barely survivable and he is dripping with sweat.

He telephones Central Services, the government agency which fixes plumbing, and waits for them to arrive and, hopefully, save him, so he can get back to daydreaming.

~ ~ ~

32 INT. SAM'S FLAT NIGHT 32

SAM is grabbing the walls of the fridge. Water from the defrosted freezer compartment drips on his head. He wakes up. Before he can really take in where he is the phone rings. He staggers over to it.

SAM
Hello ... hello ...

PHONE VOICE
Hello. Mr Lowry?

SAM
Who's that?
(pause)

A sound at the kitchen door turns SAM's head - and ours - just in time to half see a quick blurred movement, but then a rapid voice in his ear-piece brings his head back.

PHONE VOICE
Put the phone down and your hands up.

SAM
(into the phone)
What? Who is this?

SAM realises that the voice is also in the room behind him. He turns round and sees TUTTLE. TUTTLE is middle-aged, a short tough figure dressed in dark clothes suggesting a cross between a cat burglar and a night-raid commando. In one hand he holds a gun pointed at SAM. The other hand is holding a telephone receiver which TUTTLE is in the act of placing in the large capacious bag at his feet. SAM puts down his phone, and his hands up.

TUTTLE
Nice and easy now. Keep your hands where I can see them.

SAM
What is this?
(indignantly)
Who the hell are you?

TUTTLE, keeping the gun on SAM, goes to different doors, leaning backwards into bedroom, bathroom and closet.

TUTTLE suddenly relaxes and pockets his gun.

TUTTLE
Harry Tuttle. Heating engineer. At your service.

SAM
Tuttle! Are you from Central Services?

TUTTLE
Ha!!

SAM
But ... I called Central Services.

TUTTLE
They're a bit overworked these days. Luckily I intercepted your call.

SAM
What?

By now, BOTH are pouring with sweat.
TUTTLE heads across the room and swiftly begins to undo a wall panel.

SAM
Wait a minute, what was that business with the gun?

TUTTLE hands SAM the panel and plunges his arm into the space behind it.

TUTTLE
A little precaution, sir. I've had traps set for me before now. There are people in Central Services who'd love to get their hands on Harry Tuttle.

SAM
Are you saying this is illegal?

By now TUTTLE has managed to pull out some sections of flexible ducting from the welter of mechanical offal behind the removed panel. It is all very complicated and greasy and it looks as though there is a lot more where that came from. TUTTLE is amazingly neat and deft as he works. A real pro. As he works he hums a wee tune ... yes ... BRAZIL!!

TUTTLE
Well, yes ... and no. Officially, only Central Service operatives are supposed to touch this stuff ... Could you hold these.

TUTTLE
(he hands Sam a bunch of wires that he has detached) ... but, with all the new rules and regulations ... unncgh, c'mon, c'mon ... they can't get decent staff any more ... so ... they tend to turn a blind eye ... as long as I'm careful.
(he hands Sam a torch)
... Mind you, if ever they could prove I'd been working on their equipment ... well, that's a different matter ... up a bit with the torch, sir.

SAM
Sorry. wouldn't it be easier just to work for Central Services?

TUTTLE
Couldn't stand the pa - ah - we're getting warm -

SAM
The pace?

TUTTLE
The paperwork, couldn't stand the paperwork.
(indicating the torch)
Over to the left please, if you don't mind sir. Hold it there. Yes, there's more bits of paper in Central Services than bits of pipe - read this, fill in that, hand in the other - listen, this old system of yours could be on fire and I couldn't even turn on the kitchen tap without filling in a 27B/6.... Bloody paperwork.

SAM
(mildly)
Well I suppose one has to expect a certain amount

TUTTLE
Why? I came into this game for adventure - go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there's trouble, a man alone. Now they've got the whole country sectioned off and you can't move without a form. I'm the last of a breed. Ah ha! Found it!
(he holds up a small charred gadget)
There's your problem.

SAM
Can you fix it?

TUTTLE
No. But I can bypass it with one of these

He pulls another gadget from his bag.

SAM
Fine.

The door bell. TUTTLE grabs for his gun.

TUTTLE
Are you expecting anyone?

SAM
No. Wait here.

He goes out closing the immediate door and goes to the front door which he opens. He is confronted by two officious little men in boiler suits who are standing outside his door. Their names are SPOOR and DOWSER. DOWSER is SPOOR's echo.

SAM
Yes?

SPOOR
Central Services.

DOWSER
...ervices.

SAM
Uh - what? - I ...

SPOOR
You telephoned, sir.

DOWSER
...elephoned sir.

SPOOR
Trouble with your air-conditioning.

DOWSER
...ditioning.

SAM
(gulps)
No, not at all. I mean, it's all right. It's fixed.

SPOOR
Fixed?

DOWSER
Fixed?

They don't like that.

SAM
I mean it fixed itself.

SPOOR
Fixed itself.

DOWSER
...ixed itself.

SPOOR
Machines don't fix themselves.

DOWSER
... fix themselves.

SPOOR
He's tampered with it, Dowser.

DOWSER
...ampered. with it, Spoor.

SAM
Look, I'm sorry about your wasted journey

SAM tries to close the door but SPOOR prevents this.

SPOOR
(to Dowser)
I think we'd better have a look.

DOWSER
... have a look.

SAM
No you can't.

He is pushed aside. SPOOR followed by DOWSER, heads for the door behind which is MR TUTTLE. SAM is paralysed. SPOOR approaches the door as if it is dangerous. He turns the handle quietly and gives the door a little nudge. The door begins to swing slowly open. SAM suddenly finds inspiration.

SAM
Just a minute!

SPOOR and DOWSER turn round as the door continues to swing open. When the door is open, behind their backs TUTTLE is seen holding his pistol in a two-handed grip, his knees slightly bent. TUTTLE freezes like that, pointing his pistol through the open door.

SAM
Have you got a 27B/6?

DOWSER looks very angry. Veins stand out on his forehead and he goes into what looks like some sort of fit. SPOOR knocks him to the ground.

SPOOR
(to Sam)
Now look what you've done to him.

SAM
Have you got one or haven't you?

SPOOR
Not ... as such ...

DOWSER moans and begins to get back on his feet.

SPOOR
But we can get one.

SPOOR
(worried about Dowser)
It's all right, Terry, it's all right, everything's all right.

SAM
(ushering them to the door)
I'm sorry, but I'm a bit of a stickler for paper work. Where would we be if we didn't follow the correct procedures?

SPOOR
We'll be back.

DOWSER
...Be back.

SAM
(Closing the door on them)
Thank you.

SAM turns back to TUTTLE who is coming forward pocketing his gun.

TUTTLE
Thanks, Lowry, you're a good man in a tight corner.

TUTTLE returns to work, fitting in the new by-pass gadget and tightening the nuts, and happily humming "BRAZIL".

SAM
Listen .. um ... I don't want to get involved in any of this. But I work at the Ministry of Information, and I happen to know that Information Retrieval have been looking for an Archibald Tuttle, Heating Engineer. You wouldn't by any chance be -

TUTTLE
(pleased)
My friends call me Harry. Information Retrieval, eh? Interesting!

SAM
What do they want you for?

TUTTLE
Time to go.

TUTTLE finishes the job and throws his tools into the bag.

SAM
Thank you very much. How much will it...?

TUTTLE
On the house. You did me a favor. Check the corridor.

SAM goes to the front door, opens it and looks out.

SAM
All clear.

TUTTLE slips out and heads off down the balcony corridor.

SAM
Hey that's a dead end.

But TUTTLE merely undoes a pre-arranged rope and swings Tarzan-like off the end of the balcony and across a multi-story void to a neighboring block. SAM is amazed - not to say - stunned.

7 comments:

patfromch said...

I remember seeing Brazil waaaaaaay back in the 80s as a Teen and being very fascinated by that computer that Michael Palin uses in one scene, it fit the times and the style. Brazil was and still is one of those movies you have to see, few excuses allowed.
(Note: Tom Stoppard is also responsible for Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, very funny and intellectually challenging)

Well anyway, showed Brazil to SweetiePie a few weeks ago, but she found it too disturbing, she said that the humour was too dark for her. Shame really, I thought she would like it, she likes Terry Gilliam and MP stuff in general.

abbas said...

i love brazil and everything gilliam. heh i think i have four copies of brazil lying about.

Vleeptron Dude said...

I saw this version on TV once and almost plotzed. I certainly hadn't remembered a Happy Ending in the theater.

===============
from Wikipedia:
===============

The Sheinberg Edit (Love Conquers All/TV Edit)

The Sheinberg Edit also aired on syndicated TV for time restrictions on some occasions and it pleased Gilliam as it showed how bad the studio cut of the film was.

* When the ministry building is blown up, the piece of paper that is shown is a "deleted" form for Harry Tuttle.

* It is made clear in this version that Tuttle is a terrorist. Examples include the man in the white lab coat in the beginning (that kills the fly that causes the film's events) isn't watching an interview with Helpmann, but an "Arrest and Detainment" show about Tuttle and Sam's fellow employees watching the film without music with gunshots left.

* The scene at the restaurant starts the film with Shirley offering Sam the salt, and the explosion in the restaurant.

* Extended, more romantic dialogue between Sam and Jill is added after Tuttle switches the sewage and air pipes at Sam's flat. This is one of many scenes between Jill and Sam that was cut out of Gilliam's cut and re-added for this one.

* You do not see the inflamed guard when the police vehicle crashes during the chase.

* It is never stated that Buttle is dead, only asked by his wife.

* Lots of curse words were replaced with tamer dialogue.

* The "Something for an executive" scene is intact, however, afterwards, only Sam is captured while Jill is not killed.

* The film ends with a brief sequence where Jill wakes Sam in their country hideaway. Sam says "I don't dream any more", looks at a picture on the wall of himself wearing the dream-sequence wings, and the film ends with them flying up into the heavens. Jack Lint and Mr. Helpmann do not interrupt the ending of the fantasy (thereby altering the ending of the film).

* Many of the fantasy sequences are missing, or slightly different, like having an opaque surrounding the scene.

* Extended dialogue between Jill and Sam outside his apartment, and while in the truck is added.

* Extended dialogue in the scene where Sam meets Jack at Information Retrieval is added as well, and Jack has his daughter in his office.

* A cut of Casablanca featuring the line "Here's looking at you, kid." right after Sam leaves Kurtzmann's office.

* Jack says "You look like you've seen a ghost, Sam..." to Sam at the entrance of the Ministry of Records when Sam sees Jill Layton. This scene is also in the American cut.

patfromch said...

Eh ??? How come someone can be so BLOODY STUPID TO CHANGE THE END ?!I thought that one never made it to the big screen. you saw a version that was not authorized by gilliam, you can find further details on imdb.com in the Trivia section for Brazil, Gilliam also wrote a book about the experience and I am sure there is something in the Extras of the Criterion Ed.
My copy only cost a tenner from the dustbin, no additional extras were included, but the correct version with the correct ending. Bloody Hell, if i wanted to upgrade all my fave movies to good DVD editions I would spend a small fortune...

Vleeptron Dude said...

The moment a big studio releases a big-budget movie is a horribly vulnerable moment for the director's vision of the movie, because the studio executives are in a paranoid panic about just one thing:

Will they get back the $52,000,000 they sunk into this extravaganza, or will audiences not buy tickets, and the executives will be publicly castrated by a mob of angry investors.

And in that paranoid moment, studios grab the scissors. The first thing they do is shorten a long film. And then they fall back on ancient beliefs about what moviegoers hate. In "Brazil's" case, the studio panicked over a very long film -- with a creepy story and the biggest movie sin of all: an Unhappy Ending.

If Heaven exists, I think a guaranteed express ticket to Heaven goes to restorers of old wonderful films that did suffer terrible studio butchering. I am deeply grateful that in recent years it's been possible to buy a DVD of Gilliam's original vision of "Brazil."

And even more grateful to the people who restored "Bridge on the River Kwai," and the movie which critic Pauline Kael called the greatest American movie of the sound era: Sam Peckinpah's "The Wild Bunch," perhaps the most brutally butchered and hacked movie ever. By the time the studio was finished with TWB, the plot made no sense, you had no idea what was going on.

Now these movies can be seen in gorgeous re-mastered theater releases, and if you just rob a few banks for a big Hi-Def screen, you can have an intimate at-home experience with some of the greatest movies of all time.

I finally got to see a great full screening of a restored Fritz Lang's "Metropolis." What an experience! My eyes bugged out, knocked my socks off!

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