Religion | 1970 | Sound | Colour
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Futuristic film with Orwellian society too taken up with its own bureaucracy to keep God in their lives. Future predications on wacky inventions include Videophones and strict regulations complete with 1970's outfits and haircuts. A couple are forced to starve and become cannibals (it is suggested that they eat the man's arm!) simply because the system will not allow for their predicament.
"What would happen if life became so ordered and regimented that God was a foggy memory and human worth was eclipsed by "the system"? Man runs headlong into the rules and regulations which have taken the place of human sensitivity and concern in the imagined future. The climax of the film and the issues that are brought into focus will evoke a tidal wave of thought and discussion."
The camera pans along a white wall where two men are waiting in line, the first man, in a blue suit, looks at his watch and then walks forward to a window on to an office where a woman sits, she says "Good morning" as he hands over some documents. Close up on her hand hesitating with a rubber stamp over the card. The woman, in a blue cardigan and white shirt with a name badge, speaks to Mr. Thomson (the man). She hands back the card, he speaks. She looks around and then hands him a form to fill in. He argues that he did not damage the card, it came like that. They talk, he smiles and nods. He turns and walks back past the now long queue of people waiting. Close up on her hands as she stamps cards, titles over this shot.
A man with a name tag which reads 'Ravitch', looks at the mangled card, shaking his head. Ravitch and Mr. Thomson talk at a desk in an office. Close up on Thomson speaking. He pushes the card across the desk at Ravitch. Close up on Ravitch's face as he speaks. [Cut]. Ravitch pushes the card back across the table. Thomson speaks. Ravitch hands the card back and Thomson stands. Ravitch speaks.
Mrs Thomson shouts, an back to Mr and Mrs Thomson arguing, he sits on one of three high chairs in front of a bar, she stands behind, in front of a kitchen-style area, she walks out from behind, goes to a chest of drawers and takes a book out of a draw then walks over to Mr Thomson, still shouting, she opens the book while he looks bored. She reads from the rule-book smugly. He gives her a wry look and nods. She shouts. He speaks. They both argue, he goes over to the drawers and takes out a larger book, flicks through it and pulls up a chair made of clear perspex. She looks on concerned. He sits facing the screen on the wall above the drawers, finds the videophone number he wants in the directory and looks at the keypad on the arm of the chair. Close up on his fingers tapping in the number. Mrs Thomson watches. A man's head and shoulders appear on the screen, he speaks. Mr Thomson speaks. Close up on the screen as the man speaks. Dialogue alternates between the two shots. Mr Thomson presses a switch and the screen goes black. Mrs Thomson speaks, confused. Mr Thomson stands up. Mrs Thomson asks him where he is going. He puts a bag over his shoulder and attaches a gas mask on to his face, by the door, close up on the mask.
A smoggy city is seen, almost totally obscured by the smog. Thomson is back in the office, a surly looking man sits by him and Ravitch watches a machine printing, he rips off the pages and speaks, all three men argue, Ravitch sits down. Close up on Ravitch speaking. Thomson speaks. The postman thinks. Shots alternate between all three of them. Thomson stands up during the conversation. Close up on his face as he shouts.
Mrs Thomson is opening a container in the kitchen area, she looks up to see her husband some in, he takes off the bag and drops it onto a chair before crossing the room, he sits down and they talk. Close up on each of their faces as they talk. She hands the container to him. Close up on the contents as he counts with his finger, they are coloured disks in cellophane, he hands her one disk which she puts on a tray and walks over to the oven, she puts the tray in and shuts the door, she turns a knob and then walks over to Mr Thomson, they talk, they embrace as they talk.
Close up on a shopkeeper as he speaks. He stands behind a counter with a till, Mrs Thomson is on the other side, behind him are plastic bottles of brown liquid with labels on, they talk. Mrs Thomson looks upset and then talks. Mr Williams (the shopkeeper) talks. Shots alternate between them as they discuss whether she can have nutri-cakes on credit. Mrs Thomson walks to the door (marked Nutrition Center), thinks and then races back to the counter. She speaks. They speak again, Mrs Thomson looking more desperate.
Close up on a sign which reads 'Welfare Department', pans back to show the sign on a door on a waiting room in which Mr Thomson and another man sit waiting and reading, the door opens and a young woman in a dress and trousers shows a man out, she refers to her clipboard ad calls Mr Thomson's name, he gets up and follows her into the room, a woman comes into the waiting room and sits down. Inside the room, the woman and Mr Thomson sit down, she pours him a cup of 'nutri-juice' which he gulps down and asks for another, they talk. Close up on the woman talking. Close up on Mr Thomson talking. She gets up and goes over to pick up her clipboard as she speaks. Dialogue alternates between the two shots. She consults a large rule-book as they speak. He stands up and shouts in frustration. They continue arguing. Mr Thomson shouts, pointing to a sign which reads 'Welfare Applicants Are People'. As they argue he rifles through the things on the table trying to find a new card. They carry on talking (alternating close-ups) more calmly, but Mr Thomson is more upset. He takes up his bag and leaves.
In a black room with no visible walls or ceiling, Mr Thomson hands a card to a girl seated at a desk, she greets him and hands the card to a man seated at a higher desk, she walks away and Thomson follows her slowly, he passes a man sitting alone on a row of seats and stops, looking at him. Close up on the man looking up and stroking his beard, he smiles briefly. The girl ushers Thomson into the witness stand and walks back to her desk, the judge reads the card and speaks. Shots alternate between Thomson and the judge talking and the other man watching. The girl smiles. Mr Thomson looks very pleased. The other man confronts Mr Thomson over how he has survived without food for two weeks, he reads a list of violations which they have perpetrated to get food. The three men talk about it all. The secretary gives Mr Thomson a booklet of food stamps. The man from the state gives him a document to confiscate the stamps, they argue about it. He takes the stamps from Mr Thomson, who seizes him by the arm and shouts, the man pulls away. They speak to each other. Close ups of each of the officials talking to Mr Thomson, the picture is distorted to show his delirium. The shots alternate between theses and Mr Thomson getting more and more distressed. He shouts.
Mr Thomson sits on the sofa, head in hands as he talks to his wife who kneels in front of him. Close up on the two of them, who are visibly tired and hungry, as MR Thomson speaks, recalling a time when there was compassion and concern, they talk. Mrs Thomson gets up and leads her husband across the room to the chest of drawers, she gets out the directory and types in the number of the Department of Spiritual Affairs as Mr Thomson sits down in then chair. She kneel down and they watch as a pair of hands pressed together in prayer appear on the screen. Close up on the screen. Mr and Mrs Thomson speak. The images change to drawings of a church, children, a field and back to the hands. Mr Thomson repeats his problem. Similar calming images are shown then the hands. Mrs Thomson hangs her head as Mr Thomson repeats himse3lf again. The screen reads 'Off the Air'. Mrs Thomson talks desperately. Mr Thomson shakes his wife and then embraces her, they are both scared, she cries as he reassures her that they will manage, they talk, still embracing.
People stand in the queue to the office and shuffle forward as a woman walks away. Mr Thomson hands over his card and the woman stamps it while talking to him , as he turns away, we see that he has only one arm. Two shots of him turning away from the window. The queue shuffles forward as he walks away towards the camera clutching his card.
Joseph Campanella, the actor who played Mr Thomson, sits on a desk in a black room, speaking to the camera, explains the moral of the film. Credits.
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