Digital Culture –| 2008

electronic art, technology and culture

The Cultist – Nineteen Eighty-Four for Nineteen Eighty-Four

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Welcome to the first edition of The Cultist. Occasionally, my post has nothing to do with Eastern Culture so, well, I can’t really put this under The Otaku Way. Here in The Cultist, I’ll be talking about stuff that happened in class. And nothing’s bigger than stuff that’s being shown last week – Brazil.

Brazil is a 1985 dystopian black comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam. The film got its name from the namesake theme song “Aquarela do Brasil”. An almost satiric take on the dystrophic totalitarian government found in George Orwell’s 1984. It has been known that Orwell wrote 1984 to be about the year 1948, and such Brazil has been jokingly referred to as 1984 for the year 1984. It is a gloomy story and unusual protagonists with an extremely unforgiving ending. Not seeing the last fifteen seconds in the director’s cut and you might as well not bother with the film.


Hey, Just like
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, but without bikini-clad girls

Boy meets girl, a story template number two out of two, according to the story writing textbook. I personally do not think that this film is about the story at all but it gives us an opportunity to follow the protagonist, Sam Lawry, while he explores this dystopia world. Each place that Sam has visited reminisces of our world albeit push to the very extreme, and not on the happy-go-lucky side either. Sam’s apartment is full of machines and gadgets that is cold and always out of order, a running joke that gradually get worse up to the point of inhospitable towards the end of the film. The restaurant, a reminiscence of French surrealist film, features large, colourful air ducts and unexpectedly serves slop of food – each dish so indistinguishable from each other you need a tag on the plate to know what the hell you’re eating. There is the fire-breathing house-making industrial plant that contains workers who wear radioactive protective gear playing volleyball, for example.


A Voice Mail

Everything is at an utmost extreme but Gillian is able to keep the film’s balance. While the fantastic explosive setting is very much in your face, it is contrasted by the dull, mind-numbing Ministry buildings in which it is still very much in your face, but muted.


Dessert is served!

Lawry is a very un-likable hero. Unless you are a paranoid wuss and your greatest desire is to become the finest stalker and making life-changing decisions base on the contents of your dreams, you cannot sympathise with Lawry. Being a paranoid jerk can be cool, and we see it all the time in other fictions, but Lawry can make himself as repulsive as the world he lived in. I am still banking on the thought that everything from the middle of the film is only just his imagination since I’m sure there is NO WAY that a girl can fall in love with someone after **SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT** he tracked her down, got her fired from her job, was caught in a terrorist attack AND accuse her of being a terrorist, being a total perv, and get her killed… twice.

The Freedom Fighter Heat Engineer Tuttle is an opposite, altogether. If any film can make a blue-collar job looks cool, up to the point of inspire people to pursuit career in that industry, then this is it. Tuttle is smart, righteous, and full of surprise. In fact, several references of this film in pop culture were actually Tuttle’s reference – an extraordinary feat when consider that he is just a minor character.

The sound uses a large number of counter point. A grim setting or grim situation is countered by cheerful sound and producing even sharper contrast within the scene. For example, **SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT** in the Church scene towards the end, even though it was a funeral, albeit a cheap one, and Lawry is still being hunted down, the whole atmosphere is just comical. Sounds echoed back and forth while happy-but-not-quite-there music is playing. It culminated up to the coffin sequence in which the music transited to a more dramatic theme.

In conclusion, the visual of this movie is top notch. There is no question at why this film attained its cult status since it brought up so many questions in regards to our own government in such a satirical, explosive way.

5/5 stars from me!

Till next time,

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Written by masterpete

September 1, 2008 at 12:42 am

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