In the most recent installment of Las Movies, the space that El American dedicates to analyzing the world of culture and entertainment, Ignacio M. García Medina spoke about Harrison Bergeron, an original story by American author Kurt Vonnegut, which was famously adapted into a film of the same title in 1995 and a short film called 2081 in 2009.
The big difference between these two films, Ignacio says, is in the ideological load that is presented with greater weight in the latter.
The film was produced for television and starred Sean Austin, best known for his role as Sam in The Lord of the Rings, and is set in the year 2053.
Harrison Bergeron and the tyranny of equality
It tells the story of young Harrison Bergeron, who lives in the suburbs of the City of Madison, Rhode Island after a second American revolution led (and won) by the communists—their cause was, of course, found in the inequality between rich and poor.
But the purpose of this fictitious revolution was not equality before the law but “equality through the law” in a world where no one could stand out or be more or less rich, handsome or intelligent than others.
To achieve that equality, a device was employed that modulated the brain waves of citizens in order to impede their individual progress. “Dumbing down the smart and weakening the strong,” Garcia rightfully points out.
But Harrison Bergeron turns out to be immune to such technology, and from childhood, he used to stand out above average. When a doctor instructs him to perform permanent lobotomies to ensure his stupefaction, the protagonist escapes and attempts to awaken the masses in a speech, which he must later retract.
The plot of the short film is similar in its use of devices, communist government domination and repression of individual advantage, but focuses on the protagonist’s speech and takes place in a theater, in the middle of a ballet performance.
In this version, starring Armie Hammer, the “golden age of equality” dominated by tyranny is the result of the “progressive egalitarian fever” that inspired the revolution.
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