Monday, June 21, 2010

Gilliam's Arc - A Flood of Films Flowing into Fantasy

I have now seen all of Terry Gilliam’s films.

Last Friday night, Buttercup and I watched Jabberwocky.
I rather liked it. It’s not the best movie, but it’s not bad either.

How does it fare in terms of a Gilliam flick?

Well, given that it’s his first movie (Monty Python films not included) it serves as a missing link, even though it comes first. How so? Well, Jabberwocky is very straightforward. Sure, it veers a little here and there, but it’s nothing like the double-backflipping and turning reality inside out as per Gilliam’s later movies. What this shows, then, is a definite arc of his work. From single-streamed story to various streams of consciousness flowing in and out of each other. A progression (or degeneration, however one chooses to look at it) of storytelling technique, getting less and less linear as he goes along.

At this rate, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will be a series of semi-related images.
I jest. But it is interesting that as projects came, he beefs up the surreal quality each time.

And for the record, Jabberwocky pretty much follows the Lewis Carroll poem. It’s not a direct adaptation, not by a longshot. But it does tell roughly that same story. In fact, it's quite Monty Python-like. From the humor to the look of it. And having the always great Michael Palin as the guy who falls into being the hero bolsters that feeling. Thus, it stands to reason that as time went on in his films, Gilliam steered farther away from the Pythonic influence. I'd also like to say that Deborah Fallender did a great job as the princess. She played it rather like a medieval Marcia Brady.

And how did the famed monster look? It’s the second best brought to the screen (of 3.) Burton’s takes the Unbirthday Cake, to be sure. But Gilliam’s is impressive for 1977, certainly. And it’s much better (in terms of design and action) than the one in the 1985 made-for-TV Alice in Wonderland.

I’ve also come to realize that I’d been looking at the works Gilliam had written. There is, of course, also The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys and The Brothers Grimm. I've seen each of those, too. And on the whole, I liked them as well. But each of them is a linear tale... although the fantastic hand of Gilliam is definitely present in each!

Trying to Grok Gilliam

No comments: