The Imagination of Terry Gilliam

 — Andy Kubis

I bet that every American middle school has at least one kid who knows the lumberjack song by heart, or the Dead Parrot sketch, or can do John Cleese’s Silly Walks…my nephew could do the silly walk before he could talk.  For Monty Python’s entire 40-year history, there has been a new generation of fans waiting in the wings. In fact, there’s an entire Monty Python channel on You Tube.

Terry Gilliam was the sole non-Brit in the comedy troupe, and was mostly responsible for the cartoons. That giant foot that crushes the show’s title at the end of the opening credits (see above)… it was his idea. It is the foot of Cupid, cut from a reproduction of the Bronzino masterpiece. That foot  — and Gilliam’s style in general — are the visual trademarks of Monty Python. One of my favorite of Gilliam’s cartoons is suicidal leaves, worth the :59 seconds of your time. 

Terry Gilliam’s imagination has to be getting better with time. His movies — Time Bandits, Brazil, The Fisher King, and now The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus — prove it. This newest is Gilliam’s first original script since Brazil. It is a fantastical morality tale set in the present-day. The film stars Christopher Plummer as the title character, musician Tom Waits as the devil, and Heath Ledger as a mysterious stranger.  It was Ledger’s last film; he died while the movie was being made.  Gilliam decided to have three other actors (Johnny Depp, Jude Law & Colin Farrell) fill in, sharing the role. You can watch a trailer at this link

Gilliam has said that he doesn’t care if people leave the theater loving his films or hating them… he just wants a reaction. That he often succeeds in getting one is made clear by the frequently retold story of a woman who saw The Fisher King and walked home afterwards. .. 20 blocks in the wrong direction.