Introduction - The Imaginarium of Doctor Gilliam

Terry Gilliam tribute

Steve Taylor-Bryant introduces our weekend of celebrating all things Terry Gilliam...

Hollywood is run by small-minded people who like chopping the legs off creative people. All they want to do is say no.

I am a fan of all the Pythons. I live in the town John Cleese is from, where Connie Booth owned a nursing home. I have enjoyed the records (Black circles about 30 years before downloads younger readers), I loved Flying Circus, all the films, Life of Brian especially, but there is one Python I love more than the others and that's the most underrated one, the one not seen as often as the others, Terry Gilliam.

Gilliam is the artist. He is The American marketing executive with the warped mind and the eye for the strange, and I love all his films. He is wrongly maligned as being a director of flops yet has amassed half a billion dollars in box office take alone. Never mind the fact that most of his film sales are on DVD. Yes, some films didn't make back their budget but an average of 49 1/2 million bucks per film is a good return when you think that these are the strange, ridiculous art movies from his mind, not some robot beat em-up from Michael Bay.

The Adventures of Baron Münchhausen is always held up as his flop. It took only 9 million dollars. Yet memory is a strange thing, it's never told that it won 3 BAFTA's and received 4 Oscar nominations. Brazil won 2 BAFTA's and again got Oscar nods, The Fisher King won 1 of its 4 Oscar nominations as well as 2 Golden Globes and 3 BAFTA's, Twelve Monkeys received 2 Oscar nominations and won a Golden Globe and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus won double Oscars and double BAFTA awards.

Gilliam is also one of the unluckiest directors in Hollywood. During the filming of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, his leading man was seriously ill and couldn't ride a horse, production was halted, the film recast numerous times, and is still in what seems like endless pre-production (I know Amazon are making it but it's Quixote so I'll believe it when I see it). During The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Gilliam fan and lead star Heath Ledger passed away leaving production in doubt until Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped in to complete the part of Tony.

The thing I love the most about Terry Gilliam is that he never gives up. He is maligned but carries on, he halts production on one film he makes another, and through all of this he doesn't in any way step on his principles or make something he wouldn't watch.

From Lewis Carroll's The Jabberwocky, to the fantastical tales of The Brothers Grimm, from the psychedelic journalist Hunter S. Thompson, to the sci-fi prisons, Gilliam makes good solid films that entertain, push the boundaries of your imagination and light up your mind.

Welcome then to The Imaginarium of Doctor Gilliam, may you never escape the madness...
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