Literature and movies portraying a future dystopian society always fascinate me, whether it is the 'Big Brother' fronted suffocating oligarchy of George Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty Four' or the societal choice between a free-will powered chaos versus a conditioned factory-like safe yet stagnant society exquisitely described in 'The Clockwork Orange' by Anthony Burgess.
And not necessarily a hypothetical society of the future, 'Animal Farm' (again by George Orwell) is a brilliant look at how the Russian society (in the communist era) evolved where the revolutionaries (pigs, if I recall correctly) overthrew the oppressors (the humans in the farm) but then slowly reacted in the same way as the humans they evicted to transform into another avatar of the very same oppressors they removed with no change in the conditions of the other animals. (I really recommend this book. It's a thin little book but phenomenally powerful). Another book on similar lines is 'Lord of the Flies', which essentially focuses on how idealized human culture fails under stress and freedom. Individual versus society is a theme in this plot as well.
Anyway, why am I going on and on about these books?
Well, I had taken some movies from R a long time back and had not really watched them all. I was getting bored this morning and sat down to watch a movie called 'Brazil'. If you're thinking this was about scantily clad women at the Rio carnival (the way I had thought) then you are in for a huge surprise. This movie is set in a world of the future where every individual seems to be sinking in a revolting marsh of bureaucracy. A totalitarian society at a more micro-level than the one described in 1984, this society curbs all freedom of thought through the simple machinations of filling forms! The government bureaucracy shown here with no one willing to take a decision and people capable of going beyond the forms being looked upon with suspicion of terrorism. When a freelance air conditioning repairman seems like a Robin Hood character, you can imagine what the society breeds.
In the midst of this is our protagonist, the ever reliable, unambitious and unimportant spoke in the Ministry of Information's wheel. But even though he may be filling out his forms as diligently as the next person, he has a secret - a dream where he is a Knight in shining armour rescuing a damsel in distress.
Things gather pace as he bumps into a girl who looks exactly like the girl in his dreams. The plot thickens as he also takes the help of the renegade Air conditioning repairman who left the government service when the bureaucracy and the forms got to him.
I'm not going to put in the whole story here but the movie is quite good. Some sequences are quite chilling and thought provoking. Though people would have many interpretations (after all that is something all such movies are supposed to do), for me the primary question it poses is the same one. Who decides what is good for someone - the Individual or the Society?