Friday, March 27, 2015

Travel Through Time with Terry Gilliam (Guest Blogger)

Another guest blog with the subject matter of Terry Gilliam.Gilliam is one of those directors that has made some strange movies that I still remember fondly today. Time Bandits is one of those under the radar movies that still freaks me out today, especially that creepy ending. Gilliam is able to hand dark and comedic material within the same movie. He is certainly an unique voice. By the way, Gilliam was born in 1940. Wow. 
Anyway read below the guest blogger's post about Gilliam.
Travel Through Time with Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam is one of the few American directors who most completely deserves the title of "auteur." Ever since his early days as the sole colonial member of the legendary Monty Python troupe, Gilliam has brought his unique and uncompromising vision to the screen in a variety of ways.
Gilliam first came to international attention with his quirky cut-out animations for Monty Python. From there he directed his first film, the uproarious and imaginative short The Crimson Permanent Assurance. This seven-minute epic opened one of Monty Python's most popular revue films and introduced the world to his chaotic, sprawling visions. Most recently, the Syfy channel premiered a television adaptation of his film 12 Monkeys (you can find full episodes on the Syfy website and DTV).
Gilliam's first full-length feature film is not for all tastes. Jabberwocky is a Monty Python picture in all but name, and those who participated in the unruly production remember it with great fondness. However, it was his second film that found its target. Time Bandits became an international sensation, and it was instantly apparent that Gilliam was a force to be reckoned with. However, he was also beginning to forge a reputation for contentious relations with the studio that would follow him for his entire career.
Hits like Brazil, The Fisher King, and 12 Monkeys followed in quick order. Each film cemented Gilliam's ability to make uncompromising works of cinema outside Hollywood’s “system.” His movies have grown increasingly unconventional with the passage of time, with complex masterpieces like The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Tideland aiming too high for many audiences. However, his most recent film, The Zero Theorem, drew strong parallels to his earlier work and conjured images of an implicit “future gone wrong” trilogy. Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, and The Zero Theorem were all made at widely different times in cinematic history and feature different conceptions of the future. However, despite their obvious dissimilarities, these films create a coherent vision of a dystopian world to come. Gilliam refers to these movies as his "Orwellian triptych," and consciously included themes and motifs that bridge all three. Even though Brazil came out in 1985, 27 years before Zero Theorem, Gilliam's visual style was already fully realized at that time.
Twelve Monkeys, Gillam’s most commercially successful picture, was heavily influenced by the experimental French short La Jetée, which premiered in 1962. La Jetée was largely a stylistic exercise in sci-fi, but the story of doomed love that lies at its core became the emotional heart of Twelve Monkeys. Gilliam made his film into one of the most beautiful time travel pictures of all time, telling the tale of a lonely man who strikes out desperately from a dystopian future to save the woman that he loves. Although his underground world is only glimpsed tangentially, it serves as an entirely congruent bridge between the crushing Kafkaesque despair of Brazil and the delirious neon whirlwind of The Zero Theorem.
The major unspoken difference between the three movies arose from the real technological revolution that overtook the film industry. Computers were barely a curiosity when Brazil came out, and the information processing machines in the enormous dystopian bureaucracy were actually typewriters with magnifying lenses glued to them. The special effects were all done with models, miniatures and mirrors. Twelve Monkeys came along in 1996, when computers were making their first blinking incursions into our everyday lives. The massive balls of televisions and flashing screens of the future, bedizened with christmas lights and LEDs, would soon complete their transformation into the world-devouring computer simulations of Zero Theorem.
This continuous evolution of Gilliam's vision of the future has been tremendously influential to other people who wished to depict the world of tomorrow. Futuristic directors including Rian Johnson, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Luc Besson and David Fincher have all cited him as a primary source of ideas and inspiration. The world that Gilliam sees will hopefully never come to pass, but his compelling vision has undoubtedly enriched our imaginations.


Anonymous said...

12 Monkeys - You covered this pretty well; it's a masterpiece. So much could be written about this.

Time Bandits - How is this not talked about enough? It's such a brilliant film, but obviously aimed at children. Obviously Gilliam thought that this heavy of material could be absorbed by young people. And he was right; but it seems that all audiences missed out on all it had to say.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Also brilliant; I'm glad someone recognizes how brilliant it is. All of the the guest actors (stepping in for Heath Ledger - without a salary, from what I've heard - did a great job at completing the film. Tom Waits was amazing, as always.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Not mentioned, which is odd for a blog set in Louisville. Maybe the guest blogger isn't from Da 'Ville. But that has to be our greatest piece of non fiction ever written, and the film itself is a masterpiece. Hopefully that never gets left out of Gilliam's works when people hold him to high acclaim.

Anyway, I was thankful to see such a wonderful post about Gilliam's work because he is such an incredible director.

BTW, this is Nick posting. James knows who I am.

Semaj said...

Good to hear from you, Nick. I'm happy to see you still read the old blog. Keep in mind you have every right to write a blog for this place. I take guess blogging posts. I'd love to see a review from you. Please e-mail me. and anyone else that wants to write a blog.

Side note; There was talk about doing a Time Bandits 2, but once one of the main stars killed himself, Terry's heart wasn't into it anymore. David Rappaport (The main bandit) attempted to kill himself just before filming an episode of Star Trek TNG and had to be recast on a dime with a different actor. He was later successful in killing himself.

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