Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Finally. The British Academy of Film and Television has awarded former Python and Director Terry Gilliam with a fellowship. This is the highest recognition the UK film industry can bestow.
The word genius has been devalued in our society, especially when it comes to popular culture. Yet Gilliam is a genius. I clearly remember sitting in my mother's basement watching PBS and stumbling on Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was Edmonton, I was always bored and we couldn't afford drugs. I remember the between skit animations like these ones and was hooked forever.
Even though I grew up on Mad Magazine, National Lampoon, Robert Crumb and the Golden Age of Hanna-Barbera cartoons there was nothing like Gilliam. His animations were slick, fascinating and made me pee.
Gilliam's list of movies that he either Directed or helped write is fairly long so I'll only mention my favourites:
Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Meaning of Life
The rest on the list I either haven't seen yet, or didn't connect with.
Gilliam has had a fairly rocky relationship with main stream studios because he prefers big budgets and has an artistic vision that doesn't always translate into big revenue. Apparently J.K. Rowling wanted Gilliam to direct the Potter films but the studio vetoed. I would give several body parts to have seen Harry Potter directed by Terry Gilliam. Considering that the movies they made were utterly boring and unimaginative. Like Disney's disastrous production of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, a pedestrian director can ruin a perfectly good story.
I understood Gilliam a lot better after I watched the documentary Lost in La Mancha which chronicles the disaster of Gilliam's failed attempt to make a movie about Don Quixote. Its worth watching and perfectly captures the difficulties in translating a vivid imagination into a work of art. Please recommend this post