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The Cinema of Terry GilliamIt's a Mad World$
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Jeff Birkenstein, Anna Froula, and Karen Randell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165358

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165358.001.0001

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The Subversion of Happy Endings in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil

The Subversion of Happy Endings in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil

Chapter:
(p.66) Chapter Five The Subversion of Happy Endings in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil
Source:
The Cinema of Terry Gilliam
Author(s):

Jeffrey Melton

Eric Sterling

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231165358.003.0005

This chapter discusses Terry Gilliam's focus on dreams and their ability to enable characters to escape from the tedium and trauma of their modern lives. These characters battle with both inner demons and the outer world in troubled efforts to save their humanity. In Brazil (1985), the dream is the ultimate escape from the horrific circumstances in which the main protagonist, Sam Lowry, finds himself. The film demonstrates the power of the state to stifle or blunt imagination by erasing self-identity. Those in control of the system dehumanise the citizenry through excessive use of and obsession with numbers and forms, all of which serve as signifiers of a bureaucracy of total control. However, Lowry shows that hope exists for the human spirit in developing the capacity to dream a human memory of freedom even though everything in his culture has conspired to deny him the capacity to do such things.

Keywords:   dreams, Brazil, humanity, Sam Lowry, imagination, self-identity, freedom, total control

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