In 1983 a short Terry Gilliam film was released as B-feature to Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, but The Crimson Permanent Assurance could also be seen as the companion text to Brazil (1985), Gilliam’s next full-scale project. A group of slavishly downtrodden office lackeys (old guard refugees from a world when commerce was more gentlemanly) rise up and mutiny, overthrowing their free-market corporate oppressors, an act so miraculous that it transforms their building into a galleon, which sets sail on the Gilliamesque ‘wide accountant-sea’. The complete defeat of the parent company, The Very Big Corporation of America, is next on their list. Opening, as the voice-over puts it, ‘in the bleak days of 1983, as England languished in the doldrums of a ruinous monetarist policy’, the fantasy of ‘reasonably violent’ office-pirates successfully trashing their erstwhile employers is hardly subtle. A utopian day-dream of collective action, which, in the time-honoured tradition of using the bosses’ ropes to hang them with, turns filing cabinets into cannons, coathooks into cutlasses and office minions into vigilante heroes. Unlike other filmic utopias, which focus on personal gain or map out brave new future-worlds, the mission of Gilliam’s men is to overthrow corporate dominance. Part-way between an Ealingesque revenge-of-the-little-man and Battleship Potemkin (1925). (Gilliam also parodies the Odessa steps sequence in Brazil), The Crimson Permanent Assurance replaces proletarian sweat with bureaucratic drudgery, but the defeated enemy is still the same: ‘A financial district swollen with multinationals, conglomerates, and fat, bloated merchant banks.’ Nothing can stop the victorious ship-except the fact that this is utopia (ou-topia-no-place) not Thatcher’s Britain, and it happens to be cartoon-flat. The ship drops off the edge of the earth.