Of the many dubious honors held by Latin America, perhaps Brazil’s capital city of Brasília ranks among the most notorious. In the spirit of Washington, D.C., Brasília was originally conceived in the early-nineteenth century as a home for the nation’s General Assembly that would be centrally located and far removed from the southeastern metropolises of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. But despite the good intentions and international reputation of Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer — the architects and city planners who finally dreamt up the city over a century later — Brasília has come to be thought of as a sort of soulless modernist utopia gone terribly wrong. Which is why it’s probably a great place to drop acid.
But don’t take my word for it. Just check out the bizarre short film from alt-comedy sensation Reggie Watts, who apparently does just that over the course of his unsettling, 7-minute science fiction guided tour directed by Benjamin Dickinson and co-starring Colombian actress Carolina Ravassa. Okay, anyone familiar with Watts knows that the guy doesn’t necessarily need to be on acid to deliver his peculiar brand of dead-pan parody, but those of us with our feet more firmly planted on planet earth would probably need more than a few psychedelics to connect with Watts’ absurd vision of Brazil’s “Capital of Hope.”
Striking a tone that lies somewhere between cult leader, flight attendant, and tour guide, Watts takes us through some of Brasília’s more bizarre architectural marvels as he matter-of-factly describes a futuristic alternate reality in which the buildings take on some rather unbelievable functions. Take for example the supposed “Brasilia Energy Complex”: a squat, round structure that apparently balances a human being’s positive and negative “pratheons” (not an actual thing), demonstrated by Watts and Ravassa in a discomfiting segment that feels like some form of 23rd-century pornography. Then there’s the triangular building dubbed by Watts as “Telepathy College” and explained by the duo in a silent segment that we can only assume involves telepathic communication.
Closing things off with a fictional city anthem that features nothing more than the word “Brasília” sung and over again, it’s clear Watts was more than a little inspired by the block buildings and sprawling highways of Brazil’s great, but imperfect experiment in large scale urban planning.