2081 (film)

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2081 (2009) is a science fiction short film based on the short story "Harrison Bergeron" by author Kurt Vonnegut.  The story depicts a dystopian future in which a powerful, authoritarian government goes to extreme measures to ensure that absolute equality exists between every individual.

Written for the screen and directed by Chandler Tuttle.
But in a world where the extraordinary is outlawed, only the outlaws will be extraordinary. (taglines)


Narrator[edit]

  • The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal.  They weren't only equal before God and the law, you see.  They were equal every which way.  Nobody was smarter than anybody else.  Nobody was better looking than anybody else.  Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.  And all this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of the United States Handicapper General.  The strong wore weights to make them weaker.  The intelligent wore earpieces that kept them from taking unfair advantage of their brains.  Even the beautiful sometimes wore masks in situations where their beauty might simply be…too distracting.  It was the Golden Age of Equality.
    • Compare this to Vonnegut story's first paragraph, which reads,
The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal.  They weren't only equal before God and the law.  They were equal every which way.  Nobody was smarter than anybody else.  Nobody was better looking than anybody else.  Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else.  All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.


Hazel Bergeron[edit]

  • Well, that's all right—he triedThat's the important thing.  I think he should get a nice big raise for trying so hard.
    • Compare this to the Vonnegut story, in which it says,
"That's all right—" Hazel said of the announcer, "he tried.  That's the big thing.  He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him.  He should get a nice raise for trying so hard."


Replacement T. V. anchor[edit]

  • Good evening.  We've just received warning from the office of the Handicapper General that suspected-anarchist Harrison Bergeron has escaped from custody.  Arrested six years ago for propagandist vandalism, broadcast piracy, refusal to report for his quarterly handicapping evaluations, and for the blatant removal of his handicaps in a public place, Mr. Bergeron had been awaiting trial in a maximum security prison here in Washington, D. C., when he, miraculously, disappeared from his cell earlier this evening.  Please be advised that Bergeron is a genius and an athlete, is underhandicapped, and is considered extremely dangerous.
    • Compare this to the Vonnegut story, in which it says,
"Ladies and Gentlemen—" said the ballerina, reading the bulletin.  She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous.  And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.
And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use.  Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody.  "Excuse me—" she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.
"Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen," she said in a grackle squawk, "has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government.  He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous."


Harison Bergeron[edit]

  • My name is Harrison Bergeron.  I am a fugitive, and a public threat.  I am an abomination of the able.  I am an exception to the accepted.  I am the greatest man you have never known.  And for the last six years, I have been held prisoner by the state—sentenced, without trial, to torture without end.  They [the state and its henchmen] had hoped to destroy in me any trace of the extraordinary…but the extraordinary, it seems, was simply out of their reach.  So now I stand before you today, beaten, hobbled, and sickened…but, sadly, not broken.  And I say to you, that if it is greatness we must destroy, then let us drag our enemy out of the darkness, where it has been hiding.  Let us shine a light so, at last, all the world can see!
    • Compare this to the Vonnegut story, in which it says,
"Even as I stand here—" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened—I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived!  Now watch me become what I can become!"


Dialogue[edit]

Hazel Bergeron:  You know, it must be very interesting to hear all the different sounds—all the things they think up.
George Bergeron:  It isn't.
  • Compare this to the Vonnegut story, in which it says,
"I'd think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds," said Hazel a little envious.  "All the things they think up."
"Um," said George.

George BergeronHazel, if I take them off, I'm gonna want to keep them off.  And we both know how we would feel about that.
Hazel Bergeron:  I'd hate it.
George Bergeron:  So, nothing to be done, then.
  • Compare this to the Vonnegut story, in which it says,
"All of a sudden you look so tired," said Hazel.  "Why don't you stretch out on the sofa, so's you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch."  She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George's neck.  "Go on and rest the bag for a little while," she said.  "I don't care if you're not equal to me for a while."
George weighed the bag with his hands.  "I don't mind it," he said.  "I don't notice it any more.  It's just a part of me."
"You been so tired lately—kind of wore out," said Hazel.  "If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls.  Just a few."
"Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out," said George.  "I don't call that a bargain."
"If you could just take a few out when you came home from work," said Hazel.  "I mean—you don't compete with anybody around here.  You just set around."
"If I tried to get away with it," said George, "then other people'd get away with it—and pretty soon we'd be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else.  You wouldn't like that, would you?"
"I'd hate it," said Hazel.
"There you are," said George.  "The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?"

Hazel Bergeron:  Hun?  You look upset; what's wrong?
George Bergeron[all choked up]  I don't know.  Something, uh…sad…on the television, I think.
Hazel Bergeron:  Oh, well, you should forget sad things, anyway; I always do.
  • Compare this to the Vonnegut story, in which it says,
George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up.  And then he sat down again.  "You been crying?" he said to Hazel.
"Yup," she said.
"What about?" he said.
"I forget," she said.  "Something real sad on television."
"What was it?" he said.
"It's all kind of mixed up in my mind," said Hazel.
"Forget sad things," said George.
"I always do," said Hazel.
"That's my girl," said George.  He winced.  There was the sound of a rivetting gun in his head.


Taglines[edit]

  • But in a world where the extraordinary is outlawed, only the outlaws will be extraordinary
  • Everyone Will Finally Be Equal

Cast[edit]

Quotes about the film[edit]

  • 2081 is a short film based on the Kurt Vonnegut story "Harrison Bergeron."  It gets right to the point, and nails the adaptation in about 25 minutes.  That's got to be a record.
  • The story is brutal, but she's hilarious.
  • 2081 is worth seeing.  It's stirring and dramatic.  But don't expect high fives and butt kicking at the end.
    • Joe Crowe, "2081" (2010); in "2081", RevolutionSF.com (2010, cited 15 March 2015).
  • I recently watched a little gem of a cinematic parable about a Rawlsian dystopia, 2081, which depicts a society in which "everyone is equal."
  • An expressionless, silent woman who is in charge of the operation takes a gun and kills Harrison Bergeson and the ballerina.  The action is televised without her knowledge and one of the last things one sees is her slightly startled face staring into the camera.  That is what Harrison wanted the nation to see—the vapid face of evil.  End of broadcast.  The extraordinary has been eliminated.  Please stand by.
  • The film is only twenty-five minutes long, but it packs a punch as terrible as Michael Radford's gritty, nearly two-hour long Nineteen Eighty-Four.  The production values are as good as any $20 million budget blockbuster's.  As a parable on the price of silence and the fate of those who prefer security and passivity over independence and freedom, it is one of the best films I have ever seen.
  • [S]ince some are forced to wear earpieces and others are not, since some are forced to wear heavy weights while others are not, anybody watching the film can quickly notice that this state-enforced social conformity has nothing to do with the sort of equality defended by John Locke or Roderick Long.  Rather, this is an objectively authoritarian perversion of equality, the real aim of which is the subjugation by the state of its subjects, and the obliteration of individualism.  Fortunately, the state turns out to be incapable of entirely destroying the extraordinary.  Thus, enter Harrison Bergeron, a revolutionary libertarian hero who aims for the overthrow of his oppressive government.
  • Bergeron's objective is to expose to the state's subjects the inherently-aggressive nature of statism, to expose the gun that is behind every statist edict.  And, he succeeds.  After he removes his handicaps, which includes a yoke around his neck, a ballerina played by Alina Faye removes her handicaps as well.  The two dance on stage to some wonderfully haunting music written by Lee Brooks and performed by the Kronos Quartet, that is, until the Handicapper General (played by Tammy Bruce) enters and shoots them both dead.  Among the viewers of the programme is George Bergeron, Harrison's father.  Played by James Cosmo, George does not have much to say in the film, yet his acting, his expression of emotion, stands out as positively superb.  Even if the movie were not amazing in its own right, it would be worth watching just for Cosmo's performance.

External links[edit]

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