© 2013 Miro Roman

Brazil, 1985

Screenplay (Draft)


A beautiful golden sun is setting. The sky is on fire. The
CAMERA starts to move downwards. A large neon sign rises
into shot. It rests on top of a skyscraper and fills the
frame. The building is neither past nor future in design
but a bit of both.

Slowly we pan downwards revealing the city that spreads
below … A glittering conglomeration of elevated
transport tubes, smaller square buildings which are merely
huge, with, here and there, the comparatively minuscule
relics of previous ages of architecture, pavement level
awnings suggesting restaurants and shops … Transparent
tubes carry whizzing transport cages past us … an
elevated highway carrying traffic composed primarily of
large transport lorries passes thru frame. As we descend,
the sunlight is blocked out and street lights & neon signs
take over as illumination. Eventually we reach the upper
levels of a plush shopping precinct.


Xmas decorations are everywhere. PEOPLE are busy buying,
ogling, discussing, choosing wisely from the goodies on
display. SHOPPERS are going by laden with superbly
packaged goods … the shop windows are full of
elaborately boxed and be-ribboned who-knows-what. In one
window is a bank of TV sets – on the great majority of the
screens is the face of MR. HELPMANN – the Deputy Minister
of Information. He is being interviewed. No-one bothers to
listen to HELPMANN.

Deputy minister, what do you believe
is behind this recent increase in
terrorist bombings?

Bad sportsmanship. A ruthless
minority of people seems to have
forgotten certain good old fashioned
virtues. They just can’t stand seeing
the other fellow win. If these people
would just play the game, instead of
standing on the touch line heckling –

In fact, killing people –

– In fact, killing people – they’d
get a lot more out of life.

We PULL AWAY from the shop to concentrate on the shoppers.
HELPMANN’s voice carries over the rest of the scene.

Mr. HELPMANN, what would you say to
those critics who maintain that the
Ministry Of Information has become
too large and unwieldy …?

David … in a free society
information is the name of the game.
You can’t win the game if you’re a
man short.

Fur bedecked shoppers pass in front of what appears to be
banks of snow but as we pan along with them the “snow”
turns out to be fire-fighting foam. It oozes out of a shop
front that is a charred twisted mass of metal frames.
WORKMEN are busily sealing the opening with plywood
sheets, SHOPPERS pay no attention to this. Xmas carols are
being played by a Salvation Army style band calling
themselves Consumers For Christ. Santa Claus’s grotto is
busy, all is well with the world.

And the cost of it all, Deputy
Minister? Seven percent of the gross
national produce …

I understand this concern on behalf
of the tax-payers. People want value
for money and a cost-effective


CUT TO TV screen with HELPMANN still talking.

That is why we always insist on the
principle of Information Retrieval
Charges. These terrorists are not
pulling their weight, and it’s
absolutely right and fair that those
found guilty should pay for their
periods of detention and the
Information Retrieval Procedures used
in their interrogation.

PULL BACK to reveal a rather clinical office. The TV rests
on a desk. A WHITE COATED TECHNICIAN is sorting out his in-
tray. Several Christmas cards are amongst he paperwork. He
comes upon a Christmassy package which he rips open, to
discover a shiny, metal “executive toy”.

CUT TO the BEETLE droning up near the ceiling.

The TECHNICIAN is disturbed by the buzz of the BEETLE as
it whirrs around the fluorescent light. He rolls up some
paper and forms and gets up to swat the insect.

Scenes 4-12 Deleted. 4-12 Deleted.


The TECHNICIAN gets up and balances a chair on top of his
desk. He climbs up onto it attempting to swat the BEETLE
still buzzing about the room just out of reach. Beneath
him an automatic type-writing machine rattles away
compiling a typed list of names under the heading
“Information Retrieval, Subjects For Detention &
Interview”. The machine is being fed from a spool of paper
which is being rhythmically chopped by an automatic
guillotine which neatly leaves each name on a separate
sheet, with the title above each name, each sheet
following its predecessor into a holding basket. In CLOSE-
UP we see the names on the sheets of paper building up in
the holding basket: TONSTED, Simon … TOPPER, Martin F.
… TROLLOPE, Benjamin G. … TURB, William K. … TURNER,
John D. … Every name begins with T.

Do you think that the government is
winning the battle against

On yes. Our morale is much higher
than theirs, we’re fielding all their
strokes, running a lot of them out,
and pretty consistently knocking them
for six. I’d say they’re nearly out
of the game.

The TECHNICIAN is tottering on one leg on the chair on the
desk as he strains to swat the BEETLE. Swish, swash, oops,
WHAP! Gottcha!!

But the bombing campaign is now in
its thirteenth year …

Beginner’s luck.

The BEETLE’s career comes to a halt … squashed flat on
the brilliantly clean ceiling … or has it? As the
TECHNICIAN clambers down from the rickety heights, the
BEETLE’s carcass comes unstuck from the ceiling and drops
silently into the typewriting machine which hiccoughs,
hesitates and then types the letter “B” and hesitates and
then continues so that the next name is BUTTLE, Archibald.

The TECHNICIAN fails to notice this and the machine
continues smoothly TUTWOOD, Thomas T. … TUZCZLOW,

Thank you very much, Deputy Minister.

Thank you, David … and a very merry
Christmas to you all.


ZOOMING past foreground outdoor Xmas decorations we
TIGHTEN in on one of several massive residential tower
blocks that loom over what appears to be a poorer part of
the city


HELPMANN and INTERVIEWER are on the TV, the end credits
rolling over them to the beat of a Mozart theme tune.
PULLING BACK we reveal that the TV is in a conventional
sitting room, conventionally decorated for Christmas; out
the room is oddly encumbered by huge metal conduits that
snake unpleasantly across and through the walls. Smaller
conduits radiate from the main one connecting the various
services that Central Services (the name emblazoned on the
metal) supply to this household. A conventionally poor but
proud family occupies the room. MRS BUTTLE is reading
Dickens’ Christmas Carol to GIRL BUTTLE who is about six.
BOY BUTTLE plays quietly with a toy machine gun and some
action men dressed in security gear. MR. BUTTLE is putting
the final touches to a neatly wrapped Christmas present
which looks identical to the “executive toy” we have just
seen in he TECHNICIAN’S office.

Faintly from outside comes a burst of laughter. A tilt of
the CAMERA indicates that the laughter is coming from the
floor above.

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