Last Saturday evening, my wife and I watched the movie Living on Netflix. I highly recommend it. I rate movies on a scale of 1 to 10. If I rate a movie a 7 or higher, I’m glad I saw it. I would rate Living as at least a 9.
If I tell you much about it, I will give away too much.
Here’s what I will say. It seems to move slowly, but after a while you realize that it moved quite quickly. The whole movie, sans credits at the end, is under 100 minutes.
Why do I mention it here? Because it’s a nice story of the stultifying effects of government bureaucracy. It takes place after World War II, when there were still a number of bombed out places in London. According to Wikipedia, it takes place in 1953. I think the date is closer to 1949. Why? Because there’s a mention of two of the characters going to see the 1949 Cary Grant/Ann Sheridan movie I Was a Male War Bride. Reruns weren’t that common in those days, so they probably saw it within months of its release.
As F.A. Hayek noted briefly in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom, there was already a large bureaucracy controlling land use. So three women who want permission to have a park in one little bombed out area approach the “Parks” bureaucracy, where Rodney Williams, a senior bureaucrat played by Bill Nighy, works. They get shuffled from bureaucracy to bureaucracy in what seems like an endless loop. My understanding is that the three women want the government to pay for the park, so it’s not a simple “we want permission” story. Nevertheless, it does show how deadening bureaucracy is.
The stultifying effect of the bureaucracy, as we learn in the film, is not just on the citizens who want things done but also on the bureaucrats themselves.
I won’t say more. If you comment and give away some of the plot, please say, in CAPITAL LETTERS upfront, “WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.”