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Feature
The A-Z Of Terry Gilliam
An alphabetical guide to the singular - and possibly cursed - director

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BUREAUCRACY

Brazil

From the swashbuckling accountants of The Crimson Permanent Assurance to the implacable panel of bearded doctors in The Zero Theorem, Gilliam has always had a visceral hatred of bureaucracy. Anyone who’s seen any of his films will be familiar with the image of a bureaucrat’s face looming large in a wide-angle frame, frustrating the hero’s cause. The most significant example of the director’s antipathy, though, is Brazil; here, the entire plot revolves around a bureaucratic error which ends up with Archibald Buttle being wrongly killed. For Gilliam, this is typical: it’s not so much that he objects to bureaucracy in theory, but instead that it’s run by flawed human beings in a chaotic world. Huge, often faceless, institutions blunder around, making enormous mistakes that ruin lives. The Ministry of Information in Brazil, the police, mental health services and airport security in Twelve Monkeys, Management in The Zero Theorem – all these monoliths represent his films’ real enemy.

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