"The problem with movies is that you're in with the most bizarre group of people."Terrence Vance Gilliam (November 22, 1940-) was the only American in the Monty Python troupe (although he does have British citizenship) and added the most surreal elements of the show through his many animations. As the series progressed, he also did many small roles the other actors didn't want to perform for various reasons, and had very few speaking parts, if you forget his voice acting during the animated segments (one of his most notable lines is "I want more beans!"; he was also Cardinal Fang of the Spanish Inquisition). He wrote a number of the sketches, and from there co-wrote the troupe's three films based on original material with the rest of the troupe, on which he also played much more parts than he usually would in the series. He co-directed Monty Python and the Holy Grail and directed the opening segment of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, "The Crimson Permanent Assurance".From there, Gilliam moved into writing and directing non-Python films, though some of his fellow troupers have appeared in and/or co-wrote them. His specialties are fantasy and science fiction films, often laced with dark humor: one could construe his worldview as "We're all doomed! Isn't that hilarious?" He was J. K. Rowling's choice of director for the Harry Potter movies — however, Warner Bros. decided against it.This is understandable, given that few directors in the history of film have been so prone to Executive Meddling, production delays and budget overruns, and just plain bad luck as Terry Gilliam. After Jabberwocky (1977) and the hit Time Bandits (1981), the first great tale of his struggles came with 1985's Brazil. It put him at odds with Universal Pictures when executives attempted to recut the movie, especially its ending; the subsequent book The Battle of Brazil tells the tale. His next film, 1988's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, went wildly over budget and then bombed in the U.S. thanks to Columbia Pictures undergoing a regime change that kept it from getting proper release and promotion.In the 1990s, things were looking up with The Fisher King (1991), 12 Monkeys (1995), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998). Then at the Turn of the Millennium, his films became a parade of bad situations behind the scenes. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was never completed thanks to trials and tribulations covered in the documentary Lost in La Mancha. The Brothers Grimm (2005) was beset by Executive Meddling, this time via Bob and Harvey Weinstein. Tideland (also 2005) made it to theaters, but was overlooked and shunned for its focus on pedophilia (plus it was set in, and filmed in a desert, but it just kept raining during filming). And finally, perhaps saddest of all, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) became Heath Ledger's final film when he died before completing his role.Bad luck simply doesn't cut it: the man's cursed.The Onion once joked that if Terry Gilliam were to have a barbecue, it would be beset by production delays. But his perilous productions have resulted in a portfolio of fascinating, if not always successful, films.
— as quoted in Losing the Light: Terry Gilliam and the Munchausen Saga
Terry Gilliam's works on the wiki:
- Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-74): Terry Gilliam did many memorable animations for the series.
- Acted in & co-directed: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
- Acted in & animated Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979)
- Jabberwocky (1977)
- Time Bandits (1981)
- Co-directed: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983)
- Brazil (1985)
- The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
- The Fisher King (1991)
- 12 Monkeys (1995)
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
- The Brothers Grimm (2005)
- Tideland (2005)
- The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
- The Zero Theorem (2014)
Common tropes found in the films of Terry Gilliam:
- Black Comedy: Oh, defiantly so.
- Butt Monkey: Most of his characters.
- Crapsack World: Several of his films involved depraved or outright crumbled societies.
- Deranged Animation: It doesn't come more deranged than that.
- Doing It for the Art
- Tideland. A fairy tale of the sort modern people do not tell any longer. Absolutely unsuitable for commercial purposes.
- Gilliam in general is a fine example of this. Most filmmakers would have called it a day after barely surviving Brazil and the ensuing Executive Meddling. The rest would have certainly thrown in the towel after The Man Who Killed Don Quixote collapsed. Not Mr. Gilliam.
- Downer Ending: Most of his films have this. On the DVD Commentary of The Brothers Grimm, he says that he hates happy endings.
- The Dung Ages: Along with the other Pythons, popularized the trope with Monty Python and the Holy Grail; as a solo director, this appears in Jabberwocky. In general, his period settings are not particularly tidy.
- Dutch Angle: Uses it moderately in some of his films.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Aside from the movies and Deranged Animation, he's also directed a few Operas.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: His entire career has been about flights of fancy, so naturally his films tend to rail against iron-fisted bureaucracies and the narrow-minded jobsworths who staff them. Probably the pinnacle of this trope was the beginning of Baron Munchausen, when city administrator Jonathan Pryce — graduating from playing a Beleaguered Bureaucrat in Brazil — orders the execution of a soldier* . The offense? The soldier was so good at his job he made everybody else look bad. A title card reveals this as "The Age of Reason".
- Production Posse: Many actors reappear throughout Gilliam's films:
- Monty Python members frequently get cast, to the point that some fans misguidedly believe Gilliam's own films are Python productions
- Robin Williams: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (under a pseudonym) and The Fisher King. He was going to be in The Brothers Grimm until objections were made by the Weinstein brothers.
- He tends to work with actors on multiple occasions, occasionally after prolonged periods of time, including Heath Ledger, Matt Damon, Ian Holm, Jonathan Pryce, Jeff Bridges, Tom Waits, Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp and many more.
- Reality Subtext: A lifelong, seemingly futile and endlessly troubled quest to make Don Quixote ... its almost quixotic.
- Re Cut: The Criterion releases of Brazil on home video include three different versions, his original cut, a slightly shorter version that Universal ultimately released in the US, along with a drastically shorter and drastically altered version Universal almost released instead (see Executive Meddling).
- Scenery Porn: His films have a very distinct look (highly detailed sets shot with very wide lenses), to the point where cinematographers often call a 14mm lens "the Gilliam lens". Granted, what he's actually shooting isn't always that pretty.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: The Development Hell of The Man who killed Don Quixote, caused in no small part by Gilliam stubbornly clinging to his artistic vision on the face of a just as stubbornly adverse reality:
- The successive castings of archetypical actors to play Don Quixote, all over 70-80 years old, despite the book character being canonically in his early fifties, who end injured because they cannot handle the physicality of the character or are diagnosed of age-related heath problems before they can shoot the movie, inevitably putting filming on hold again.
- Filming in Spain, but not in La Mancha because it isn't picturesque enough. Gilliam's choice of filming in Navarre's Las Bárdenas Reales resulted in the sound being ruined by planes exercising in a nearby NATO base and was ultimately ended by a freak storm that completely changed the landscape (LBR's unique look is caused by its rapid rate of erosion in the first place).
- Surreal Humor: When he does comedy, it usually falls under this. Being a Python might have something to do with it.
- Thematic Series: He considers Time Bandits, Brazil, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen to be his "Imagination Trilogy". The movies themselves are not connected by continuity but they share similar themes.
- Trickster Archetype: Baron von Munchausen and Mr. Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
- Troubled Production: Nearly all of them. Parodied by the man himself here.
- What Could Have Been
"I was the perfect guy to do Harry Potter. I remember leaving the meeting, getting in my car, and driving for about two hours along Mulholland Drive just so angry. I mean, Chris Columbus' versions are terrible. Just dull. Pedestrian."
- J.K. Rowling originally wanted Gilliam to direct Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone but Warner Bros. Executive Meddling led to Chris Columbus being hired. Gilliam has stated:
- Nevertheless, in 2005, Gilliam also stated he would never direct a Harry Potter movie because he would not enjoy working on a project filled with Executive Meddling.
- Obviously, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, with Johnny Depp & Jean Rochefort. Gilliam tried to revive the project eight years after the attempt documented in Lost in La Mancha, but it never got past pre-production. However, thanks to a new development deal with Amazon, it looks like the film will actually get made, with John Hurt now in the Quixote role.
- He was approached to direct Watchmen back sometime in the 1990s, but they took him off the project when he insisted that the only way to do the story justice would be with a big-budget miniseries on a channel like HBO. Many still feel he was right.
- He also turned down offers to direct American Beauty, Enemy Mine, and Forrest Gump.
- Gilliam has been wanting for ages to direct a film adaptation of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, an idea both authors were on board with, but the film has been languishing in Development Hell for ages.
- Whenever either Gaiman or Pratchett do a Q&A anywhere, it always seems someone asks about the status of the Good Omens movie. At one point Gaiman replied, "It's the same as it's always been: Terry Gilliam wants to do it, Terry Gilliam has a script, no one will send Terry Gilliam seventy million dollars."
And suddenly, the editor suffered a fatal heart attack