Extremely mild spoiler for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.
Star Wars may be entertainment for the masses, but it’s always had one foot in the land of the film snob. From the very beginning, George Lucas sought to reference not just Flash Gordon, but also Akira Kurosawa and Fritz Lang. Lucas may be long gone from the intergalactic director’s chair, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson has picked up the baton and drawn on an array of respected cinematic works for inspiration. As was noted by Slate’s Sam Adams, Johnson’s franchise picture owes debts to Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffmann, and Kurosawa’s Ran. But there’s one milliseconds-long reference point that has largely gone unremarked-upon: Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
There’s a scene in the middle section of The Last Jedi where Finn and Rose find themselves at the mercy of some cops in the gambler’s paradise of Canto Bight. They’ve parked their ship in a tow zone, it seems, and when they’re caught by the authorities, they’re accused of committing parking violation 27B/6. It’s important to note that the “/” is spoken aloud as “stroke,” meaning the full phrase is “twenty-seven-B-stroke-six” — and that combination of syllables should perk up the ears of any fan of Gilliam’s 1985 dystopian masterpiece.
In it, put-upon Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) finds himself experiencing a problem with his apartment’s air ducts. He puts in a call for repair, but it’s intercepted by vigilante handyman Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro). He shows up and starts some pro bono repairs, pointing out that the proper bureaucratic channels would have stalled because they’d need to fill out a 27B/6 form. He, however, has no such constraints. Sure enough, when the powers that be send along representatives from “Central Services” to do the repairs a few minutes later, Sam is only able to stop them from finding Tuttle and getting both of them in trouble by stopping them in the corridor with a question: Do they have a 27B/6? The mere mention of the paperwork sends them into an emotional tizzy and they have to leave.
Of course, they come back and things get all mucked up, because Brazil is a terribly depressing movie. Though Sam may have suffered for his transgressions, we — and The Last Jedi — are all the richer thanks to his experiences. Good luck with your air ducts this winter.