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Film / Brazil

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"I do assure you, Mrs. Buttle, the Ministry is very scrupulous about following up and eradicating any error."

A 1985 film by director Terry Gilliam, depicting one man's futile struggle against a futuristic (and heavily decayed) governmental bureaucracy, drawing very heavily on George Orwell's 1984 — although Gilliam admitted to not having read 1984 when he directed Brazil. The film stakes a serious claim towards being the most definite and ghastly example of Executive Meddling in the entire history of cinema. If you're not watching the director's cut, you're not watching the real thing.

Especially notable for its imaginative and depressing "Somewhere In The 20th Century" setting, involving a Used Future (or past) of poorly-functioning Schizo Tech, a regime-mandated case of Too Many Ducts covering everything and anything. Along with Blade Runner and Max Headroom, it set the standard for 20 Minutes into the Future production design, scrambling the near future and the recent past into a vaguely familiar alternate present. Because of this, it was included on Time's 2005 list of their 100 Timeless and Essential Movies.


Not to be confused with the large country in South Americatrivia , or the phantom island from Irish mythology that appeared in fellow Python Terry Jones's film Erik the Viking. The title actually refers to a recurring musical motif involving the Latin American tune "Aquarela Do Brasil", which features prominently throughout the soundtrack.

Character tropes go on to the Characters Sheet.


Brazil contains examples of:

  • Acquired Error at the Printer: Sets off the whole sequence of events, in which a dead bug falling into a daisywheel printer causes a warrant to be put out for a "Buttle" instead of a "Tuttle", and the poor fellow ends up getting arrested and dying under interrogation.
  • Ad Dissonance: Advertisements for things like secure cruise lines ("A panic-free atmosphere!") and things to buy are all over the place, plus standard "anti-espionage" posters ("loose lips sink ships") on the offices. All of which are little more than literal window dressing to try to cover the colossally screwed-up, barely-functioning world the characters live in (one scene shows a road with an endless line of billboards on each side, which prevent anybody on the vehicles from seeing an endless arid wasteland lying beyond).
  • Adventures in Comaland: Sam's rescue and escape at the end turns out to be a fantasy he's retreated into after going catatonic in the torture chamber.
  • Affably Evil: The government is perhaps one of the most cartoonish and polite dystopian ruling bodies you'll find in all of fiction.
  • Almost Kiss: The kiss between Jill and Sam is interrupted by Tuttle taking off.
  • Alternate Techline: The tech is Zeerusty in a Played for Laughs way, for example, there are computers but the monitors are so tiny they must be enlarged with a magnifying glass, ducts are omnipresent, telephones which have to be switched manually, and the "answering machine" telling the characters the office is closed may or may not be some poor guy doing nightshifts reading off a script ("this has not been a recording!"). Of course, it barely works.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The movie is set "Somewhere In The Twentieth Century"- whilst genre convention would normally dictate a dystopia of this type is set in the future, it's also very Zeerusty even by 1980s standards and could just as easily be a twisted version of the then present-day world. It's left deliberately ambiguous, and in a way the precise setting isn't meant to be that important.
  • Ankle Drag: Kurtzman does this to Sam in the Dream Sequence, holding Sam back when he wants to follow Gill.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Charges against Sam Lowry are as following: Giving aid and comfort to the enemies of society, attempting to conceal a fugitive from justice, passing confidential documents to unauthorized personnel, destroying government property, viz. several personnel carriers, taking possession under false pretences of said carriers, forging the signature of the Head of Records, misdirecting funds in the form of a check to A. Buttle through unauthorized channels, tampering with Central Services supply ducts, obstructing forces of law and order in the exercise of their duty, disregarding the good name of the government and the Department of Information Retrieval, attempting to disrupt the Ministry's internal communicating system... wasting Ministry time and paper.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The bad guys win through crushing all their enemies until they no longer present a threat.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Fast-Roping La Résistance around Tuttle rescue Sam Just in Time from the Torture Cellar. Turns out this was just a figment of Sam's imagination.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Between Sam and Jill once they finally, finally are united in Ida Lowry's apartment.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It doesn't becomes a full-on Downer Ending only because Sam gets to live the rest of his life with Jill... in his torture-induced Happy Place.
  • Black Comedy: Everything regarding bureaucracy pumped Up to Eleven and at its most sociopathic.
  • Bothering by the Book: Sam keeps the Central Services workers out of his apartment (for a while, at least) by asking to see their form 27B/6, claiming he's "a bit of a stickler for paperwork." From their reactions, it's pretty clear it's a bureaucratic formality they usually gloss over. Later shot back in Lowry's face when the same workers not only arrive with the proper paperwork made, but with extra forms that allow them to kick Lowry out of his apartment and completely demolish it for "emergency repairs" that they have no desire of ever finishing in revenge.
  • Bowdlerization: The version broadcast on American television was a print that was heavily edited to remove content Universal head Sid Sheinberg thought too disturbing. About half an hour of footage — including most dream sequences — was cut, and it completely rewrote the ending into a "Love Conquers All" ending simply by removing the sounds of Jill's off-screen death and the final scene that shows the "happy ending" is just the dream of a Sam gone mad. It was put into circulation solely because it was the only version that could fit into a two-hour slot with commercials.
  • Brandishment Bluff: Sam tells Jill to start her truck and drive off and when she refuses, he amateurishly uses his fingers in his pocket mimicking a gun.
  • Brutal Honesty: Sam, when he cuts to the chase of all the division euphemisms Mr. Kurtzman is reading to him regarding the status of Buttle and flat-out states that the poor man is dead.
  • Camera Abuse: Blood splatters onto the camera in the scene where Jack is shot in the head when attempting to torture Sam.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: A downplayed example. It is more a satire of consumerism than capitalist economics as a whole, though according to Gilliam in an interview it hasn't stopped some conservatives in the United States (who are more likely to be pro-capitalist) from genuinely enjoying it and misinterpret its intended messages.
    • In the Christmas shopping scene, a woman is carrying a banner outside the store with a cross that says "Consumers for Christ".
  • Cassette Futurism: Although the actual existence of cassettes would probably be too advanced for the stuff that appears on-screen, it is a pretty advanced version of Diesel Punk, with stuff like (barely functional) robots, lots of video and audio surveillance, and computers.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: Sam manages to save Jill by hacking into a government database and declaring her dead. Shortly after doing so, she is killed by a government agents during a raid. An official tells Sam that somehow she's managed to die twice.
  • City Noir: The city is an inescapable bureaucratic force hewn from concrete, steel and litter.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Information Retrieval employs white-collar Torture Technicians who have government offices, waiting rooms, and secretaries who transcribe their victims' screams.
  • Cosmetic Horror: Sam's mother and Alma. The latter eventually gets liquefied from the beauty treatments.
  • Crapsack World: The only way to escape it is probably to just die. Or go mad.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Co-writer Charles McKeown plays Harvey Lime.
    • The hands seen manipulating Tuttle's tools belonged to Terry Gilliam, not Robert De Niro. He's also the smoker in the Shangri-La tower who bumps into Sam.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Sam has escaped from interrogation by torture and left the city with his girlfriend! Except he hasn't. He's gone hopelessly insane in the torture chair, and is hallucinating the whole thing. Ironically, he has escaped the torture... because there's not a lot of point interrogating him any more.
  • Cuckoo Nest: The ending in which reality swings from the successful rescue back to the Torture Cellar with Sam singing quietly to himself while strapped to a chair.
  • Cutting Back to Reality: The film ends with Sam being rescued from the Department of Information Retrieval by Harry, escaping from the bureaucracy-ridden dystopia and his own demons, then finally achieving a happy life with the girl of his dreams... and then Jack Lint and Mr Helpman loom into shot for no apparent reason. Cut back to reality: Sam is still in the torture chair at Information Retrieval, having been completely broken by his ordeal and retreated permanently into his Happy Place.
  • Cyberpunk: The film has all the plot elements, but with ductwork and teletype machines in place of the Internet. It even has a guerrilla plumber in place of a hacker.
  • Daydream Surprise: The "escape" scene at the end turns out to be an illusion Sam is having.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Dormanted, deleted, inoperative, excised, completed... dead.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Lowry manages to sneak into the office of his boss completely undetected and change Jill's information so she's believed dead by the system and they won't hunt her down... and they only have enough time for about one night of sex before an assault teams barges into Lowry's mother's house, arrest him and kill her. Things only get a hell of a lot worse from there for Sam, but wait, the rebels help him escape! Nope, it's his torture-induced Happy Place.
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: The movie is set during Christmas but there is little of the Christmas spirit present.
    • In an early scene, we see a little girl who is worried that Santa can't visit them because they have no chimney. Immediately after that, an alternative method of entering the house is used by someone ... and they ain't Santa.
    • Sam gets the perfect Christmas present: a decision-making machine for business executives! Good to know that your odds of being fired on a whim are a solid 50/50.
  • Diesel Punk: Trope Codifier. All of the technology is pretty much that of or based on that of The '40s and The '50s, such as the vehicle that Sam borrows (and gives him severe trouble later) being a Messerschmitt KR200 microcar.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Pettiness and Lack of Empathy are a running theme in the film's dystopian world.
    • The engineers Dowser and Spoor ruin Lowry's apartment for sending them away on a technicality rather than letting them answer his service call.
    • In return, Tuttle switches some pipes and fills their air-sealed suits with sewage.
    • Lowry's ultimate fate as a result of the trouble he causes.
    • Tuttle does repairs of people's air conditioners without any care about paperwork. He's labeled as some kind of rebel agent (a terrorist, even) and hunted down by the government with all of the overkill that this implies, up to and including torturing people to death.
  • Double Speak: "Information Retrieval". We would call it Cold-Blooded Torture and the employees of the department Torture Technicians.
  • Downer Ending: Throughout the movie, Sam used his powerful imagination to create a Happy Place for periodic escapes from the bureaucratic Crapsack World he was born into. The movie ends with him being Strapped to an Operating Table, about to be tortured by an acquaintance. Knowing that his Love Interest is dead and no one is coming to save him, he enters his fantasy world one last time and locks himself in it, escaping his tormentors forever. They know it, and don't even bother to unstrap him, they just leave his body to die and rot as he wistfully sings Ary Barroso's "Brazil". Could also be interpreted as a Bittersweet Ending because at least Sam is not suffering anymore.
  • Dreams of Flying: Sam had recurring flight dreams. In one of them, he meets his love interest before meeting her for real.
  • Dystopia: The bureaucracy has grown so large and unwieldy that it has taken over all aspects of modern life and nothing works right. No one bothers to fix problems or help people because it's not their responsibility. The state has become tyrannical, but is so incompetent that it assassinates the wrong people based on typos. It's also implied that the terrorists fighting the government are really just fictions created by the government to hide its own screw-ups.
  • Dystopia Is Hard: Whether the government was ever trying to be authoritarian or if it's just a natural result of its increasingly failed attempts to fix the problems caused by itself is not really clear. The government's failures are what's causing the dystopia, not its intentions.
  • Everything's Better with Samurai: Sam is fighting a Samurai in his Power Fantasy.
  • Expy: With Terry Gilliam directing and Michael Palin in a supporting role, the film features expies of the rest of Monty Python:
  • Faceless Mooks: Played with. Lowry is in a police van when two assault troopers, who up to now have been completely hidden by their riot armor, remove their helmets and start complaining about how they can't see with them on and how the armor makes them sweat.
  • False Flag Operation: The film is deliberately ambiguous as to whether the bomb explosions are this or not.
  • Fascist, but Inefficient: The authoritarian government is riddled with incompetence, inefficiency and overreach, operating through a Vast Bureaucracy that is too byzantine to operate and infrastructure that is far more ambitious than its Schizo Tech will support. Technically, they get Sam and kill his love interest, but even his interrogation fails because 1) he died before they could get much out of him and 2) he's really just a nobody who had nothing to offer them anyway.
  • Fast-Roping: The Ministry of Information troops crash into Mr. Buttle's living room through the windows on ropes, through the door, and through a hole sliced through the ceiling.
  • Fauxshadowing: Jill is made to look like a terrorist when Sam observes her receiving a mysterious parcel in a dubious place. It turns out that the parcel only held bribes instead of bombs.
  • Feet of Clay: The giant metallic Samurai Sam fights in his dreams pretty much shatters like a heap of clay and metal.
  • File Mixup: Tuttle is set for arrest and eventual execution, but due to a literal bug in the machine as it's typing out the order a Mr. Buttle gets arrested instead. None of the bureaucrats are willing to fix the error; they deny there even is an error.
  • Fish-Eye Lens: A wide-angle lens is used in several scenes to underpin the surrealistic atmosphere of the movie.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": When his heating goes wrong, Sam calls a support helpline and is greeted by a boilerplate response:
    "Due to staff shortages, Central Services cannot take calls between 2300 and 0900. This has not been a recording. Have a nice day."
  • Foreshadowing: In one of Sam's dreams, Sam fights off monsters wearing creepy baby masks. Later, during Sam's escape, Sam encounters the same monsters, which hints that he is actually dreaming.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • While Sam talks to the girl with braces at his mother's party, she can be seen flirting behind them.
    • In the scene in the restaurant, the waiter can be seen storing the dog under a serving tray for safekeeping.
    • Lots of weird posters and graffiti pepper the background of the city. For example, in the scene where Sam is outside of the Buttles' apartment, there is an ad for a vacation offering "a panic free atmosphere," and someone has changed "Shangra La Towers" into "Shangorilla Towers."
  • Future Food Is Artificial: At the fancy restaurant they served Mystery Meat in small piles of ground goo with a place card showing what the meal should be.
  • The Future Is Noir: Though this one is justified by the background, because given how inept Central Services is, it's not surprising that everything not deemed utterly essential is permanently in a state of brownout.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of sci-fi Dystopia works. The world of Brazil is terrible but not malevolent, just run-down. The hero who tries to free himself does so with abandon and brings about his and his love interest's downfall.
  • Happily Ever Before: The "Love Conquers All" ending.
  • Happiness In Minimum Wage: Sam is from a wealthy family and isn't interested in riches, so he's content to work in Information Adjustments as a lowly drone, but he yearns for something more romantic and daydreams constantly.
  • Happy Place: Sam goes into a state where he cannot be further hurt via torture or death or anything else. He reunites with his Love Interest and they retire to the countryside.
  • High-Class Glass: One of the plastic surgeons sports a monocle.
  • Homage: The dream scenes were a tribute to the works of Akira Kurosawa.
  • Hypocritical Humour:
    • "Mistakes? We don't make mistakes!" *crash*
    • The technicians that are sent to make the repairs in Sam's flat caustically respond to his inquiries and don't do any work in the end, but they'll be damned if Sam did something to repair the damage himself; as a matter of fact, they take a slight at the fact that someone tampered with the machinery instead of leaving it broken as they intended.
  • Inherent in the System: Incompetency up the wazoo, and many atrocities are committed because nobody has the drive to either double-check the information to prevent mistakes, or to assume responsibility. All information is correct, and if it's not, it's some other department's business. Even if that means misnaming your own wife for life... or arresting (and then killing) someone wrongfully accused.
  • Inciting Incident: A single swatted fly falling into a teletype causes it to misprint "Buttle" instead of "Tuttle" on an arrest warrant. This leads to a man's death, and the entire sequence of events in the film.
  • Inflationary Dialogue: Played as a Running Gag. Every time the destroyed car gets mentioned, the exact details become blurred, starting as a Personal transporter, then Personnel transporter, a Personnel carrier, then finally a whole convoy of personnel carriers that are unaccounted for.
  • Inspiration Nod: Terry Gilliam admitted that the film was inspired by George Orwell's 1984. Although he never actually read the book, there are numerous references to the work in his movie.
  • Ironic Echo: Sam's "Sorry. I'm a bit of a stickler for paperwork" when evicting Spoor and his partner from the flat later gets echoes when Spoor evicts Sam from his flat with the same explanation.
  • Just Following Orders: One of the reasons for the dystopia is that everyone in the bureaucracy thinks this way.
  • Kafka Komedy: Has a lot of Kafkaesque elements, many of which are presented as comedy - even if they end up Played for Drama.
  • List of Transgressions: When Lowry is taken into custody, the government official reads out a Long List of charges, which saves the least for last.
  • Lobotomy: Implied cause of Lowry's Death of Personality.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The end result of Alma's plastic surgeries. Of course it was actually an insanity induced delusion.
  • Ludicrous Gift Request: At one point, a mall Santa asks a girl what she wants for Christmas and she replies, "My own credit card".
  • Magic Plastic Surgery
    • Played straight: Mrs. Ida Lowry regenerates to the point where her last appearance is played by a different actressnote  — although it could be argued that was fever-induced.
    • Subverted: Alma Terrain is promised this, but deteriorates instead, to the point of Ludicrous Gibs. Thankfully, it was all part of Sam's delusions.
    "My complication had a complication..."
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Jack Lint puts on a creepy baby mask when subjecting Sam to Information Retrieval. The baby masks also pop up in Sam's Recurring Dreams.
  • Man on Fire: One burning mook can be seen during the truck chase sequence.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Mr. Kurtzman (German for "short man") is small in stature and success.
    • Mr. Helpman "helped" Sam.
    • Mr. Warrenn works in a rabbit-warren style place - a maze of Endless Corridors.
  • Mind Screw: Sam's escape from the torture chamber gets really trippy until the film's ending clarifies that it was All Just a Dream.
  • The Ministry of Truth: "Don't you need".
  • Missing Floor: Sam reaches a hidden floor by entering a sequence of buttons that play the recurring title motif.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Tuttle manages to make a career as an air-conditioning repairman look far more badass than should be humanly possible.
  • Never Found the Body: Mrs. Buttle: "What have you done with his BODY?"
  • Newspaper-Thin Disguise: A plainclothes secret policeman (presumably) does this.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The movie does not have a single scene set in Brazil, nor is the country relevant to the plot in any way or even mentioned once. Its only significance is that an old song titled "Brazil" is played throughout, perhaps because its romantic imagery provides a thematic counterpoint to the bureaucratic police state in which the story takes place.
  • Noodle Implements: Jack has a super bouncy ball and a pacifier amongst his tools at the Torture Cellar. They might be toys of his children, who play at his office, that have been misplaced.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A news program states that the Ministry of Information's budget is 7% of the GNP.
  • Odessa Steps: A short sequence that remakes the three most iconic shots, but with the Baby Carriage replaced by a vacuum cleaner.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: When Sam and Jack talk about Jack's wife and how "they used to stick out". While Sam assumed it's about her chest, Jack actually referred to her ears.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Not always appreciated by audiences due to the Vast Bureaucracy and gross inefficiency of the system, but Central Services behaves both as totalitarian government and corporate monopoly, which is why the likes of Tuttle are the enemy — he's the competition.
  • One-Word Title: Brazil, a bit of a Non-Indicative Name, since it refers to a song in the soundtrack, "Aquarela Do Brasil," that represents Lowry's escape from the mundane trappings of dystopian life.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": 'Ere I am, J. H.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Sam oversleeps because his alarm clock stopped working. When he tabs it, it starts up again and runs fast forward to make up for the lost time.
  • Pipe Maze: Parodied in the retro design of the film, which has exposed ductwork everywhere. It even lampshades the fact by having somebody advertise ducts on TV.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Sam has posters of movie stars on his bedroom walls.
  • Power Fantasy: Sam dreams of being a winged hero as a means of escape from his bureaucracy-filled dystopian world.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: All of the villains and stooges in the film are essentially punch clock villains. They're simply apathetic cogs in a merciless and out-of-control bureaucratic machine. Jack, the white-collar torturer who brings his kids to the office, is a notable example.
  • Reality Ensues: Happens frequently as Sam moves in and out of fantasy sequences.
  • Recurring Riff: Almost all of the soundtrack music is a variation on the main melody in the song "Brazil". Examples:
    • When Sam types "Ere I am JH" into the secret elevator's control panel, it plays the first eight notes.
    • This is also what he hums when he sends the refund check up the pneumatic tube at Mr. Kurtzmann's office.
    • It is playing on the radio in his car, and Tuttle whistles in his flat.
  • Re-Cut: There are at least three different versions — the original 142 minutes European release, a shorter 132-minutes prepared by Terry Gilliam for the American release, and the "Love Conquers All" version.
  • Retro Universe: The "Somewhere In the Twentieth Century" setting seems to lampshade this. We normally expect this sort of dystopia to be set in the future, but the very Zeerusty, retro-Used Future aesthetic with technology that is anywhere from equivalent to the 1980s to already-hideously-outdated (1950s display screens which need huge magnifying glasses to view, pre-1960s era clothing and architecture) seems to suggest it's an alternate version of the present, or at least twenty minutes into another universe's future. As one version of the script itself put it according to the Other Wiki: "It is neither future nor past, and yet a bit of each. It is neither East nor West, but could be Belgrade or Scunthorpe on a drizzly day in February. Or Cicero, Illinois, seen through the bottom of a beer bottle." Or, according to Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro: "a view of what the 1980s might have looked like as viewed from the perspective of a 1940s filmmaker."
  • Rube Goldberg Device: Every machine in the film is this. Each telephone has its own switchboard, the plug for the bath descends from the shower head, heating is controlled by an impossibly complex array of pipes, valves and rubber bladders and driven ruinously out of control by the tiniest piece of crud. Director commentary says that this is a world where everything is done the hard way, though the denizens probably think of it as all perfectly reasonable.
  • Running Gag: Sam's personnel carrier (car) that gets torched by the urchins. Since he's obsessed with Jill, he doesn't report it stolen and ignores countless memos he receives which attempt to find out what happened to it. One of the crimes he stands accused of at the end is losing "several" personnel carriers.
  • Scenery Gorn: The exterior scenes show the dystopian setting in all its ugliness.
  • Schizo Tech: The future is apparently powered by pneumatic tubes, typewriters, fresnel lenses, and the omnipresent ducts. Technology has apparently stagnated in this dystopia.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: The line between the real world and Sam's dreams gets progressively blurrier. The final scene reveals that Sam's escape was a delusion, likely brought on by the trauma of being tortured by his friend Jack.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mr. Kurtzmann, Sam Lowry's neurotic boss, is named after Harvey Kurtzman, the cartoonist who discovered Terry Gilliam. Also Dr. Chapmann, thought to be named after Gilliam's fellow Python, (Dr.) Graham Chapman. Both characters had an extra 'n' added to their names to make this less obvious.
    • The various old movies that the characters attempt to enjoy.
    • Both a parody and a Shout-Out: The soldiers marching down the steps after the janitor's contraption a la The Battleship Potemkin. This film knows how to make film lovers laugh too.
    • The soundtrack to the Western movie that the clerks surreptitiously watch is the same music that played when Sir Lancelot rampaged through Swamp Castle in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
    • Harvey Lime is an obvious reference to Harry Lime from The Third Man.
    • Archibald Buttle's wife's name is Veronica. A reference to Archie and Veronica of Archie Comics.
    • The Buttle/Tuttle confusion is patterned after the mysterious Invented Individual Tuttle from M*A*S*H.
  • Significant Anagram: 'Ere I am, J.H. = Jeremiah, the name of Sam's father.
  • Singing Telegram: Sam Lowry's mother invites him to a party celebrating her latest round of plastic surgery via a Cute, but Cacophonic singing telegram, to Sam's utter bewilderment; for added comedy, when the singing telegram offers to deliver a reply, Sam attempts to sing the reply! Also, because of the hopelessly bureaucracy-clogged setting, the "courier" is discovered to have arrived an hour after the party has already started.
  • Snicket Warning Label: The "Love Conquers All" ending (released on various markets, including America, thanks to Executive Meddling), which cuts the film mere seconds before the hard-core Downer Ending kicks in. Its very existence is one.
  • Somebody Else's Problem: When the wrong man is arrested and dies under torture, all any of the departments care about is that the problem doesn't trace back to them.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Sam Lowry has eluded capture by State agents, and tries to earn a living working for Mister Warrenn. Sam is taken through a bleak and dingy building to a narrow office with minimal furnishings, and is welcomed thusly: " There you are: your own number on your very own door. And behind that door, your very own office. Welcome to the team, DZ-015!" Oddly, Sam is never told exactly what he's supposed to do in that office, and the only reason this job doesn't become a mindless tedium is that Sam finds himself in a tug-of-war for desk space with the neighbouring office.
  • Sound-Only Death: When the militia arrives to capture Lowry, the screen goes black and we hear gunfire, likely directed at Jill.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The only song in the movie (implied to be the only song in the society itself) is a bouncing Big Band number about love. Perfect for a harsh dystopian satire.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • The film's original title was 1984 ½. Similar to the 1984 film adaptation of 1984, the film contains an important fantasy sequence involving green hills.
    • This was the second part of the "Dreamer Trilogy": Time Bandits represents childhood, Brazil represents adulthood, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen represents old age.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "This has not been a recording."
  • Take That!: Sidney Sheinberg is credited as "Worst Boy" due to his Executive Meddling.
  • Theme Music Powerup: The film ends with Sam sitting humming to himself after torture, and we then hear him singing the words to the film's Recurring Riff in a mournful tone. When it becomes apparent he's finally escaped the insane and ludicrous world he used to live in, the music segues from morose violins to an impossibly upbeat Latin American dance number. Arguably a subversion since, from where we're sitting, Sam is not in a good place.
  • This Is Your Brain on Evil: Sam enjoys his moment of rebellion when he and Jill Layton escape from Information Retrieval and make a getaway in her cab... until he spots an innocent bystander a soldier giving chase being slowly burnt to death and realizes how much damage they have caused.
  • Toast of Tardiness: Hilariously averted when Sam is late for work and tries to stuff a piece of toast in his mouth on his way out but the slice is too floppy so he throws it in the bin.
  • Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: Sam's neighboring officer in Information Retrieval, who has a computer in his office and doesn't even knows how to turn the damn thing on, let alone seek information properly (and when Sam asks him if the one sheet of paper is all there is of Jill's file, he tries to pretend he didn't saw the security lock-out by saying that dealing with a lady is supposed to be a slow business).
  • Used Future: Everything is so used in this future, in fact, that it rarely functions properly, including but not limited to the entire bureaucracy-based system of government.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The government is run by a vast bureaucracy so bloated and inefficient that nothing gets done right, if it's done at all.
  • Villain Has a Point: While they open the film by arresting an innocent man because of a clerical error, the government has a credible reason for wanting to arrest Sam due to the long list of actual crimes he commits over the course of the movie.
  • Visual Pun: Harry Tuttle, literally consumed by paperwork.
  • Walk and Talk: Gleefully exaggerated with Warrenn who's permanently tailed by, and barking orders at, at least two-dozen workers, seemingly at all times.
  • X Meets Y: 1984 meets The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Played with. Any time that any act that can be classified as freedom fighting is shown, it is made clear that innocent people are still getting hurt and killed, and ultimately harms the public more than the society. The only time the freedom fighting is portrayed positively is at the end (and that all happens within Sam's head, which would likely filter the actions in a positive light). Also, by the end, the film implies that there aren't any terrorists at all, and the explosions are just the machinery malfunctioning as usual.
  • Zeerust: Done intentionally. Technology is both more crude and more omnipresent than it was at the time of filming, so the setting seems both futuristic and retro.


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