And now for something completely familiar, a thoughtful and deftly tuned look at the films of Terry Gilliam by Sir Percy Derailleur-Lambert, noted British film critic and curator of the Chinese Bicycle Museum in Ipswich.
battling blockbuster beasts with big, sharp teeth
in the allegorical film art
of Terry V. Gilliam
by Sir P. Derailleur-Mangrove
Like many film artists of his era, particularly those who enjoyed cycling, Terrence Vance ‘Terry’ Gilliam was so moved by the helicopter crash that killed Vic Morrow and child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le around 2:20 am in the early morning hours of July 23, 1982 on the George Folsey produced John Landis set of the Frank Marshall executive produced, Kathleen Kennedy associate produced, Landis and Steven Spielberg produced, and twilit and allegorical Landis, Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller film, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983), that he made the TZ disaster a major theme of his post-1982 films. However, unlike other film artists of his era, Gilliam had already begun warning film artists and audiences about the dangers of beastly and loot lusting blockbuster films and begun crusading against the ravenous and insatiable blockbuster beast with big, sharp teeth years before the TZ disaster, starting with his first allegorical, fantastic realist, gleefully satirical and live action fused with animation ‘animaction’ film, JABBERWOCKY (1977). In fact, Gilliam was ominously linked to the TZ disaster long before he began creating his own film art when he teamed up with Playboy Productions and rejoined the rest of the Monty Python troupe for a cinematic revisit of their most memorable sketches from the MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS telefilm series (1890-1937) on the allegorical Ian MacNaughton film, curiously referred to as LAS BICICLETAS ROJAS in Madrid, and everywhere else except Montreal as AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT (1971).
‘Well, I think cycling’s overrated.’
Indeed, ominously and presciently twilit forebodings were seen right from the beginning of the film in the opening H.M. Government Public Service Films No. 42 HOW NOT TO BE SEEN sketch. For the twilit trio of exploding shrubberies which led eventually to the death of the unfortunate Mr. E. W. Lambert, who, alas, was hiding behind the middle, and last, of the exploding shrubberies, and the callousness of the narrator who watched Mr. Lambert die eerily anticipated the equally callous indifference to human life that led to the thunderous special effects explosion and resultant fireball that caused the fatal TZ disaster. Significantly, Gilliam reaffirmed the film’s eerie and prescient forebodings with the cut-out animation sequences he made for AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. For the squashing foot from Agnolo Bronzino’s allegorical painting, VENUS, CYCLIST, TIME and FOLLY (circa 1546), that fell out of the sky to end the opening credits of the film with the agony of defeat also eerily anticipated the falling helicopter of the TZ disaster-as well as confirmed that allegory was already on the mind of Gilliam long before he started directing his own allegorical film art. Another cut-out animation sequence featuring killer cars falling on and killing pedestrians-but not cyclists-reiterated that eerie link to the TZ helicopter, for it reminded us that Chen was crushed by the helicopter on that fateful morning.
Even more ominously, another Gilliam animation sequence featuring a shaving man who cut off his own head with his razor eerily anticipated that the rotor blades of the falling helicopter would decapitate poor Morrow and cut Le in two. This ominous anticipation of the TZ disaster was increased by the presence of Graham Chapman as film director Sir Edward ‘Eddie Baby’ Ross in the It’s The Arts sketch, for Steve Ross would be head of Warner Brothers when the studio released TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. One of the final Gilliam animations featuring a giant mutated Siamese cat menacing polite, and impolite, society, was also important, as this was the first appearance of the ravenous and insatiable blockbuster beast in a Gilliam film, preparing us for the many desperate battles with blockbuster beasts with big sharp teeth and horrible, nasty breath in the films to come. The fact that Gilliam also openly mocked Twentieth Century Fox and MGM in another animation segment also made clear that Gilliam had set his sights on American film art and studios, a preoccupation that continued when he collaborated with fellow exuberant cyclist and Monty Python troupe member, Terry Graham Parry Jones, and 76,188 exuberant llamas on the allegorical, fantastic realist and gleefully satirical animaction film known as THE LORD OF THE BICYCLES in certain parts of Moscow, and in most other places as MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974), a film anticipated by the sound of the John Cleese voiced God admonishing and inspiring Michael Palin’s Arthur Pewtie, and by the presence of the double-vision suffering Sir Sir George George Head Head and Arthur Wilson One and Arthur Wilson Two-played by Cleese and Eric Idle, respectively-and the Arthur Brown twins in the Kilimanjaro sketch..
‘Bring out the dead!’
Intriguingly, the film began with a title credit indicating that it was set in England 932, immediately linking the film to the fateful numbers 23 in another ominous memory of the future July 23, 1982 TZ disaster. Soon Gilliam’s loyal and sturdy squire, Patsy, appeared with Chapman’s King Arthur, vanquisher of the Saxons and King of the Britons, on a search for knights valiant and true to join them as Knights of the Round Table at Camelot. As Patsy clopped halves of a coconut together to imitate the sound of hoofbeats while the two men pretended to ride horses-there being no bicycles at the time-it was also immediately clear that Gilliam’s zany animaction film art would be a squired taste, indeed. Eerily prescient and twilit forebodings soon returned when a desperate sword fight to the death broke out between King Arthur and Cleese’s intimidating and obdurate Black Knight. For the sight of King Arthur unconcernedly hacking off the Black Knight’s arms and legs and leaving him a petulant and heckling torso ominously anticipated lack of concern for safety on the Landis set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE that led to the rotoring blades of the falling helicopter decapitating Morrow and hacking Le in two in the TZ disaster.
The implicitly gay and three headed Knight-played by Jones, Chapman and Palin, respectively-who frightened off Idle’s brave Sir Robin later in the film reaffirmed the film’s ominous foreboding of the TZ disaster, for the three hectoring heads anticipated the three equally intimidating victims of the TZ disaster who would haunt film artists and their film art after July 23, 1982. The sight of a surprisingly killer rabbit decapitating an unwary Knight later in the film as King Arthur and his Knights quested for the Holy Grail was also eerily prescient, for the bloody scene again anticipated the decapitation of Morrow. This twilit prescience was reinforced by the cuts to a contemporary police investigation of a real world murder committed by Chapman’s Sir Lancelot, cuts to a murderous reality that again ominously presaged the all too real investigation of the TZ disaster.
This eerie sense that MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL was filled with ominous memories of the future TZ disaster was increased by the implication that the sudden, and divinely inspired interest of the bearded King Arthur and the tragicomic Knights of the Round Table he had gathered around him to quixotically quest for the Holy Grail in England in the Middle Ages was a satirical roast of the increasing interest of the equally bearded Francis Coppola, the reigning King of New Hollywood at the time, and the rest of the film artists of New Hollywood in beastly fortune, glory and the Holy Oscar as they abandoned the higher minded, film art for film art’s sake principles of their rebel youth in their middle ages. An increasing interest on the part of the middle aged members of New Hollywood in the fortune, glory and Holy Oscars to be had with creating blockbuster beasts that Gilliam, Jones and the 76,188 llamas implicitly warned would lead to New Hollywood being devoured by the blockbuster beast, a warning implicitly seen in the attack of the legendary Black Beast of Aaaaaaarrrgggghh on King Arthur and his Knights late in the film. A dire warning that New Hollywood was wise to heed, as the ravenous and insatiable blockbuster beast with big sharp teeth was so terrifying it gave Gilliam, its creator and animator, a heart attack. The mortally terrifying and legendary Black Beast of Aaaaaarrrggggghhh and its implicit link to New Hollywood also prepared us for an implicit roast of Spielberg and his embrace of the blockbuster beast when Gilliam returned to the Temple Theatre with Jones and Palin with his first solo idiosyncratic, imaginative, fantastic realist, madcap and satirical animaction film, dubbed THE SEVENTH BICYCLE in Stockholm, and known everywhere else as JABBERWOCKY.
‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son, the jaws that bite, the claws that catch!’
Fittingly, the film began with an unsuspecting green moth resting on a fern being squashed from above by the right foot of a poacher played by Jones as he wandered through a medieval forest on his rounds checking his illicit traps, as the opening lines of the allegorical poem, ‘Jabberwocky’, from the equally Lewis Carroll novel, Through The Looking-Glass, And What Alice Found There (1871), was read by an unseen man. This squashing foot recalled the squashing foot of Bronzino that Gilliam had created in his cut-out animation sequences for the MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS telefilm series and for AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, immediately affirming that we were in an allegorical Gilliam animaction film. The squashing of the unsuspecting moth by a larger creature striking from above also prepared us for the poacher being stalked from above, and then paying for his illicit activity by being snapped up in the jaws and gobbled up by the film’s blockbuster beast, the towering and eponymous Jabberwocky-puppetered by Peter Salmon. Significantly, this attack on the unsuspecting poacher by the dread Jabberwock recalled the attack on the unsuspecting blonde teenage girl swimmer-played by Susan Backlinie– by a great white shark at the beginning of the allegorical Spielberg film, JAWS (1975). Thus, Gilliam implied with this similar prologue that he was sarcastically roasting Spielberg and JAWS in JABBERWOCKY.
This implication was reaffirmed after the prologue by the arrival of Palin’s Dennis the Cooper, the son of a fastidious, uncompromising and implicitly Alfred Hitchcock linked cooper-played by Paul Curran. For the occupation of cooper engaged in by Dennis and his father evoked Hooper-played by Richard Dreyfuss-the bespectacled and bearded shark expert in JAWS, linking the young cooper to Hooper, and, hence, to Spielberg. The sight and sound of Dennis falling under the influence of Warren Mitchell’s profit minded fishmonger, Mr. Fishfinger, and fleeing the principled craftsman ways of his bearded and obdurate father and his village for fame and fortune in a nearby and implicitly Hollywood linked fortified citadel-a flight made not, alas, on two smoothly spinning wheels, in those darkest of Dark Ages before the heady arrival of the bicycle-reaffirmed the implicit link of Dennis and Spielberg. For the sight of Dennis being led astray by Fishfinger reminded us that in the late Sixties Spielberg was persuaded by Sid Sheinberg, the head of the television division at Universal Studios, to leave behind the UCLA film program before he graduated as a fully trained and higher minded film artist and embrace fortune and glory as a television director with Universal Studios. This set Spielberg apart from the directors of New Hollywood, who were usually graduates of post-secondary film schools and preferred to make film art for film art’s sake, rather than for fortune and glory. Indeed, the fact that Dennis was clean shaven affirmed his implicit link to Spielberg, as it reminded us that, unlike Spielberg in 1977, the denizens of New Hollywood favoured beards and moustaches like the father of Dennis to make it clear that they were serious and thoughtful film artists. The link of Dennis to the also implicitly Spielberg linked Sir Galahad in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL reaffirmed the implicit link of Dennis to Spielberg.
Significantly, however, Dennis was not killed when he was made a squire to the Red Herring Knight-played by David Prowse-and forced to join the quixotic quest to kill the blockbuster and beastly Jabberwock and free the fortified Hollywood evoking citadel of its nightmarish presence against the worst wishes of the money lusting merchants who confirmed the implicit link of the Jabberwock to blockbuster lusts. Instead, by a quirk of tragicomic fate, it was Dennis who killed the beast, and died in the attempt to kill the Jabberwock was the Red Herring Knight and his arch nemesis, the new Black Knight-implicitly linked to Lucas given that the horns on his helmet reminded us that Lucas was a Taurus, and fittingly also played by Prowse, who also played Darth Vader that year in the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg and JAWS roasting Lucas film, STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977). This surprise success of Dennis that led to him being given the hand of the pretty Hollywood blonde Princess-played by Deborah Fallender-daughter of the Hollywood citadel’s ruler, King Bruno the Questionable-perhaps linked to Lew Wasserman, head of Universal Studios at the time, and played by Max Wall-implied that Gilliam hoped that Spielberg would come to his senses, give up on beastly blockbuster films like JAWS and truly save film art with higher minded films, in the end. An optimistic new hope, indeed, but one overshadowed by the decapitation of the first herald of King Bruno-played by John Bird-and the fact that the third and final victim of the Jabberwock at the end of the film was the new Black Knight, making for a twilit trio of victims of the blockbuster beast in JABBERWOCKY in two more eerie and ominous memories of the future. Strangely, Gilliam then proceeded to co-write, co-star in and design the allegorical Jones film, MONTY PYTHON’S LIFE OF BRIAN (1979).
‘What’th tho funny about Bigguth Thyclith?’
Curiously, given the film’s allusions to STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, the implication was that the rise and fall of the film’s Jerusalem based and Roman Empire battling ‘messiah’, Brian-played by Chapman-symbolized the likely rise and fall of Lucas and hith hugely thuccethful evil Thpielberg Empire battling firth chapter in the STAR WARTH Clathic Trilogy. In addition, Joneth implied that Bigguth Dickuth-who ominouthly antithipated the permanent link of Philip K. Dick to 1982 via the Thir Ridley Thcott film, BLADE RUNNER (1982), and altho played by Chapman-thymbolithed Bigguth Thyclith. Luckily for the world, Joneth and company altho forewarned uth that no matter how dark and nathty the dread allegorical Thone Warth would be, it wath thtill important to thee the humour in the thituation, and to alwayth give a cheery whithle and thee the light thide of life-and death. And then Gilliam was off to implicitly extend his roast of Spielberg in JABBERWOCKY to all of the dimunitive, madcap, middle aged and fortune and glory lusting film artists of New Hollywood, as the giddily cycling Jones, the 76,188 exuberant llamas and himself had already implicitly done in MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL, when Gilliam, Palin and Charles McKeown-who had played variouth roleth in MONTY PYTHON’TH LIFE OF BRIAN-returned to the Temple Theatre with his next allegorical, irreverent, imaginative, fantastic realist and satirical animaction film, usually referred to in Glasgow as BICYCLES ARE FOREVER, and also known in other countries as TIME BANDITS (1981).
‘Lads, here’s to stinking rich-and riding the best bicycles! Hah hah!’
Significantly, a knight on horseback suddenly charged out of the closet of bored and imaginative English suburban kid, Kevin-played by Craig Warnock-one night as he settled in to sleep perchance to dream, linking the beginning of TIME BANDITS to JABBERWOCKY. The following night, a group of exuberantly shameless, greedy and bearded little men-led by David Rappaport’s implicitly Coppola linked Randall-leapt out of Kevin’s closet, sweeping the boy up in a madcap new quest to rob some of the wealthiest people in history with the help of a map of the universe stolen from God-played by the implicitly Alfred Hitchcock linked Sir Ralph Richardson-that revealed all of the holes in time and space left in the wake of the hasty seven day creation of the universe, a madcap and blockbuster loot lusting quest that reminded us that at the time some of the bearded, middle aged and short male film artists of New Hollywood such as Lucas had begun to also shamelessly lust after piles of blockbuster and movie tie-in merchandise loot.
Indeed, Gilliam affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Lucas with the choice of Kenny Baker and Jack Purvis to play Fidget and the implicitly Lucas linked Wally, two of the dimunitive film bandits. For Baker played R2D2 in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE and in the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg roasting Irv Kershner film, STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980), while long time Baker associate and vaudeville partner Purvis played the head Jawa in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE and the head Ugnaught in Cloud City in STAR WARS EPISODE V: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. In addition, Wally’s name evoked Walton, the middle name of Lucas, an implicit link reaffirmed when Wally showed up in an X-wing evoking space fighter rather than a laser gun equipped astro-bicycle to help his fellow film bandits take on the film’s blockbuster beast in the climatic battle.
Significantly, while the foolish lusts of the film bandits for beastly blockbuster loot led them astray and to being imprisoned by David Warner’s personification of beastly blockbuster Evil-implicitly linked to Walt Disney due to his resemblance to the Lucille La Verne voiced Wicked Queen in the allegorical David Hand film, SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)-in a hanging cage in his Fortress of Ultimate Darkness, they not only managed to escape the cage but to defeat Evil with the help of God, in the imaginative final battle that ended the fillum. Thus, Gilliam implied his hope that not just Spielberg, as at the end of JABBERWOCKY, but Coppola, Lucas and the rest of New Hollywood would come to their collective senses, give up on blockbuster beasts and fortune and glory and turn back to higher minded film art, in the end. The implicit link of Cleese’s Robin Hood, Sean Connery’s King Agammenon and Ian Holm’s Napoleon Bonaparte, three of the wealthy historic figures robbed by the film bandits, to newcomers David Lynch, John Boorman and Sir Ridley Scott, also implied that Gilliam was gleefully roasting them in TIME BANDITS.
In addition, shortly before reaching the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness and confronting Evil, the seven film bandits fell through a hole in space/time and into the drink in the Time of Legend. Here they were fished out in a net and almost aten by Mr. and Mrs. Ogre-played by Peter Vaughan and Katherine Helmond, respectively. Curiously, while it was uncertain who they symbolized, the red hair of Mrs. Ogre evoked the auburn hair of Kennedy. This presciently linked Mr. and Mrs. Ogre to Marshall and Kennedy, who had begun dating by the time of the release of TIME BANDITS shortly before Christmas in December of 1981, making the film one of the Last Good Films of the Last Good Year. This was an eerily prescient link, indeed, given that Kennedy and Marshall were soon to play a big role in the TZ disaster.
For alas for Gilliam and everyone else, Folsey, Kennedy, Landis, Lucas, Marshall and Spielberg did not heed the eerily prescient warnings addressed to New Hollywood that were implicitly embedded in JABBERWOCKY, MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL and TIME BANDITS, leading to the deadly nightmare of the TZ disaster. An ominously forewarned but still shocking turn of events that no doubt explained why the twilit and allegorical Gilliam and Jones film, MONTY PYTHON’S THE MEANING OF LIFE (1983), was so despondent and dismal-livened only vaguely by the Gilliam crafted Crimson Permanent Assurance sketch which saw old insurance brokers (or was that bankers?) dedicated to higher goals than making money sweep aside the callow and money obsessed youngsters who were replacing them in Gilliam’s most implicitly film art for film art’s sake affirmation to date. Then Gilliam addressed the TZ disaster more memorably when Helmond, Holm, Palin, Purvis, Vaughan, Jim Broadbent and Charles McKeown left behind the daylit exuberance and good cheer of TIME BANDITS and the Last Good Year and returned to the Temple Theatre with the twilit, nightmarish, allegorical, fantastic realist, imaginative, irreverent and satirical animaction film still affectionately referred to in Perley as OH, WHAT A LOVELY BICYCLE!, and in most other places as BRAZIL (1985).
‘Why? I came into this game for the action, the cycling excitement, go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there’s trouble, a man alone.’
Indeed, the nighttime explosion that tore through a bank of televisions all showing a banal commercial for ducts in a shop display case and also took out a customer at the beginning of the film immediately implied that the daylit and Skyrocking exuberance of the pre-TZ disaster days was gone and a dark and violent new post-1982 world was here-and also linked the film to TIME BANDITS and the block of concentrated Evil that exploded at the end of that film and killed the cluelessly consumerist parents of Kevin. This explosive beginning also implied that Gilliam was again striking back at the beastly blockbuster film as much as at the equally explosive TZ disaster in BRAZIL. Curiously, Gilliam also implied that he was roasting the allegorical Ron Howard film, SPLASH (1984), in BRAZIL. For the sight and sound of the depressed, repressed, Tom Hanks resembling and bicycle deprived Department of Information and Information Retrieval bureaucrat Sam Lowry-played by Jonathan Pryce-dreaming about, meeting, falling in love with and then losing the beautiful and Daryl Hannah resembling blonde, Jill Layton-played by Kim Greist-before being tortured to death, in the end, evoked the implicitly Spielberg linked Allan Bauer-played by Hanks-meeting, falling in love with, losing, reconnecting with and then living happily ever after underwater with Madison the beautiful blonde mermaid-played by Hannah-at the end of SPLASH. The presence of Vaughan as Deputy Minister Eugene Helpmann reaffirmed the implicit intent of the film, for he evoked Eugene Levy’s Wicked Doctor Walter Kornbluth in SPLASH.
The presence of Robert de Niro’s Archibald ‘Harry’ Tuttle as a fearless and independent repair man whose Terrence ‘Terry’ Gilliam sounding and looking name and nature recalled Gilliam and his own fearless and independent approach to film art reaffirmed the implicit Howard addressing intent of the film, as the surname of Tuttle evoked a bit character named Mr. Tuttle-played by Jack Perkins-in the allegorical Howard film, NIGHT SHIFT (1982), and openly linked the film to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982. The surname of Tuttle also reaffirmed the twilit intent of the madcap film, as the surname evoked that of William Tuttle, makeup man on the original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series. Alas, Tuttle was literally destroyed by paperwork, in the end, no doubt reflecting Gilliam’s own fear that the TZ disaster would lead to a persnickety and rules and regulation filled crackdown on indie film artists like himself, an implication underlined by the fact that De Niro and Gilliam were both lone Americans in England. Curiously, seeing Sam’s mother, the Wicked Ida Lowry-whose named evoked original TWILIGHT ZONE telefilm series actress and director Ida Lupino, and played by Helmond-flirt shamelessly with a young male extra who looked like Edward VIII at one of her parties was also fitting, reminding us that the Duchess of Kent had implicitly inspired the film version of the Wicked Witch of the West, and preparing us for her death on April 24, 1986.
Significantly, however, Gilliam left behind death and twilit gloom and doom and embraced daylit life and indomitably carefree exuberance when he returned with Idle, McKeown, Pryce, Purvis, BRAZIL film composer Michael Kamen and Winston Dennis-who had played the fierce Minotaur in TIME BANDITS, and was forever linked to 1982 via his role as a security guard in the allegorical Pink Floyd and Alan Parker film, PINK FLOYD: THE WALL (1982)-when he merged his cut-out animation with live action for his most gleefully demented animaction film to date, the allegorical, fantastic realist and exuberantly satirical film, often called THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE CYCLIST in Waikato, and known most everywhere else as THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1988).
‘And that-and that was only one of the many occasions on which I met my death, an experience which I don’t hesitate strongly to recommend
-particularly astride a bicycle.’
Significantly, the film began with a black screen accompanied only by the opening chords of the Main Theme by Kamen before the Columbia Pictures logo appeared, a distinctive and idiosyncratic predilection for black screens initially accompanied only by sounds or music that caused viewers to, in a sense, wake up and enter the reality of a Spielberg film that had occurred at the beginning of such allegorical Spielberg films as AMBLIN’ (1968), DUEL (1971), JAWS (1975), and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977). Thus, this immediate evocation of the film art of Spielberg implicitly affirmed from the outset that Gilliam was roasting Spielberg again as in JABBERWOCKY and the death defying and TZ disaster denying film art he had released since 1982 in the symbolic form of John Neville’s irrepressibly optimistic and tale telling Baron Munchausen, who somehow also managed to escape death, in the end. Indeed, the fact that one of Baron Munchausen’s death defying escapes was from a sea monster that evoked the great white shark of JAWS and was the latest blockbuster beast with big sharp teeth in a film of Gilliam implicitly affirmed the Spielberg roasting intent of the film.
The sight of Baron Munchausen miraculously winning his film ling battle with the callously violent, decapitation loving, Wednesday embracing and, hence, Landis linked Sultan-played by Peter Jeffrey-and his Turkish legions, with the help of Sarah Polley’s sweet and feisty girl feminist, Sally Salt, and his four elemental companions-the Earth linked Adolphus, the Fire linked Albrecht, the Air linked Bertholdt and the Water linked Gustavus, played by McKeown, Dennis, Idle and Purvis, respectively-freeing the latest besieged and implicitly Hollywood linked citadel and its embattled Temple Theatre, in the end, also implied that Gilliam was mocking Spielberg’s cinematic battle with Landis and his attempts to end the dread allegorical Zone Wars and kick off a daylit new era of CGI enhanced film art in THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN.
Significantly, while creative and imaginative, the exuberantly optimistic and light hearted film and its flippant roast of Spielberg’s desperate redirection of reality were out of tune with angry and vengeful mood of the times, causing the film to ironically die in the Temple Theatre. The film’s flippant treatment of decapitation and snuff film-the latter heard in Munchausen’s comment that he had ‘…learned from experience that a modicum of snuff can be most efficacious’-also did not help matters for Gilliam. Indeed, the failure of the film tarnished the reputation of Gilliam, making financial backers and studios reluctant to go near the enfant Terry. Leading to a Dark Age, indeed, in the life and film art of Gilliam-and a prominent black spot on the end of his nose, which for many maddening months defied numerous costly homeopathic lotions-during which he no doubt wondered if he would ever direct a film again, or, worse yet perhaps, be forced forever after to accept telefilm assignments from the CBC-making it all too macabrely appropriate that he could be referred to as T. V. Gilliam. A Dark Age that was a perfect time for a word from our sponsor.
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We know return to ‘It’s the Arts!’, and the ‘scholarly’ essay on the film art of Sir T. V. ‘Terry Baby’ Gilliam, where, at this Dark, Dark Time, depressed, despondent, bewildered and angry about the failure of THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, we found him taking consolation in women’s clothing and striking back at his detractors and an ever cruel, cruel world with an eye catching and strapless summer dress by McQueen and a pair of casual but supportive flats by Doctor Marten to lessen the embittering and enraging disappointment of being forced to make a dreaded Studio Mandated Film (SMF)-oh petty and pernicious Fate!-co-starring Robin Williams-who played the looney dune, at one with the cosmos, Maud’dib Dib and allegorical DUNE (1984) evoking and, hence, implicitly David Lynch linked King o’ the Moon in THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN-that was his most depressed and dejected film to date, the allegorical, fantastic realist and darkly satirical animaction film lovingly referred to in Vancouver as EASY CYCLIST, and to the rest of the world as THE FISHER KING (1991).
‘I like a cycling tour of China in June-how about you?’
Curiously, the sight of the white winged Pegasus running toward the camera as the Tri-Star Pictures intro evoked the sight of Baron Munchausen astride the equally white horse Bucephalus before both disappeared into the eternity of myth at the end of THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN. It was an ironic allusion to the daylit and irrepressibly upbeat last Gilliam film, for THE FISHER KING was relentlessly dark and depressed. The dark and downward spiral began soon after the film opened, with popular and implicitly Lucas linked New York shock jock, ‘Wolfman’ Jack Lucas-played by Jeff Bridges-found working in a radio station photographed in such a way as to make it appear like a jail cell, complete with the blinds of the sound room creating cell bar-like shadows across the walls. Thus, it was not surprising that soon after this imprisoned beginning, DJ Lucas abandoned his radio show and wound up on the skids after being traumatized by the revelation that the last caller of his final radio show, one Edwin Melnik-played by Christian Clemenson-was inspired by his anti-yuppy rant to shoot up a popular yuppy restaurant called Babbit’s. The sight reminded us that the life of Lucas had also gone into a tailspin after the TZ disaster, implying that the film long struggle of Lucas to get his life back together after the Babbit’s disaster equated with the struggle of Lucas to get his life back together after being tarred by the youthful public with the same twilit brush after working as executive producer of the Kennedy and Marshall produced and allegorical Spielberg film, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984), after the TZ disaster.
Curiously, the healing of Lucas was aided by the arrival of the equally troubled and implicitly Spielberg linked ex-scholar of myths and legends, Doctor Henry Sagan aka bold and true Grail Knight, brave Sir Parry-played by Williams-who had finally by the wayside due to his wife-played by Lisa Blades-being killed in the Babbit’s shooting rampage. Significantly, the name of Dr. Henry Sagan affirmed the film’s implicit interest in Lucas, Spielberg and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, for it evoked that of Doctor Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones jr., archaeologist/adventurer hero of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, and of the Lucas executive produced, Kennedy and Marshall produced and allegorical Spielberg films, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989). The latter film in particular was implicitly being replied to in THE FISHER KING, for the madcap quest for a surrogate Holy Grail that Lucas and Sagan soon embarked on to heal their troubled souls evoked the quest for the implicitly Oscar linked Holy Grail that Jones made in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. Thus, the fact that Lucas succeeded in his madcap quest to find the surrogate Holy Grail and healed Sagan and himself-freeing Sagan from the fiery and violent grip of Chris Howell’s Red Knight, the film’s blockbuster beast, in the process-returning harmony and love to both of their lives, in the end, implied the hope of Gilliam that Lucas and Spielberg would get back on track and succeed again in the Nineties. A wistfully frantic desire to usher in a new, harmonious and exuberantly cycling film era that was not overwhelmed by a plague of computer generated imagery (CGI) enhanced film that returned with Simon Jones-who played a bloodless bureaucrat in BRAZIL-and THE FISHER KING director of photography Roger Pratt in Gilliam’s next allegorical, fantastic realist, bleakly satirical and animaction SMF film, known in Streetsville as THE WIZARD OF BICYCLES, and everywhere else except Chicago as 12 MONKEYS (1995).
‘I had a dream like…about this, one where I was riding an astro-bicycle across the solar system.’
Significantly, the film long and madcap quest of desperate and distraught time traveler, James Cole-played by Bruce Willis-to travel to the past from a bleak underground future so as to prevent the outbreak of a worldwide plague-a neo-Medieval plague that reminded us that Gilliam was still in the midst of his own Dark SMF Age-that killed most of the people of Earth evoked the equally film long and madcap quest of desperate time traveler, Kyle Reese-played by Michael Biehn-to travel to the past from a bleak machine ruled future so as to prevent the assassination of Sarah Connor-played by Linda Hamilton-the woman fated to give birth to a son who would lead the remnants of humanity to a victory over the future machine world in the allegorical James Cameron film, THE TERMINATOR (1984). Thus, the implication was that Gilliam was roasting Cameron and his Zonebusting battle against the heartless blockbuster beast in 12 MONKEYS. Indeed, the presence of Madeleine Stowe as the implicitly Kathryn Bigelow linked psychiatrist, Doctor Kathryn Railly-who attended to Cole when his ‘ravings’ about the plague devastated future led him to be institutionalized in madhouse scenes that evoked the sympathetic look at mental and spiritual illness in THE FISHER KING-affirmed the implicit Cameron roasting intent of the film. For Dr. Railly reminded us that Bigelow had at that time been recently married to Cameron, a marriage that apparently broke up when Cameron struck up a relationship with Hamilton on the set of the allegorical and implicitly Lynch roasting film, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991).
However, while the arrival of CGI and its potential to facilitate the creation of a plague of bigger blockbuster beasts than ever before might have initially seemed nightmarish to Gilliam, CGI helped him perfect his animaction style. Indeed, CGI finally appeared when Gilliam returned with Helmond, Michael Jeter-who had played Eddie, the despondent and homeless cabaret singer in THE FISHER KING-and Christopher Meloni-who had played Lieutenant Halperin in 12 MONKEYS-in his next and wildest ever film, the allegorical, fantastic realist and gloomily satirical animaction film, known in London as GONE WITH THE CYCLIST, and usually referred to in North Delta as FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (1998)-inspired by Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson-another dreaded and U.S. set SMF which joined THE FISHER KING and 12 MONKEYS to complete for Gilliam an American Nightmare Trilogy.
‘He who makes a beast of himself on a bicycle gets rid of the pain of being a man.’
However, while CGI featured more prominently in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS than in 12 MONKEYS, it was predictably treated with fear and loathing throughout the film. Not surprisingly, as CGI was used to enhance creepy psychedelic scenes that saw the faces of tourists and employees of the casino-hotels of the real life Emerald City of Las Vegas with its Neon Of Many Colours warping into nightmarish masks or the same denizens transformed into lizard people when the film’s lead, Thompson aka Raoul Duke-played by Johnny Depp-was drunk and/or stoned out of his gourd and plagued by nightmarish visions that made those of brave Sir Parry in THE FISHER KING and Jeffrey Goines-played by Brad Pitt-in 12 MONKEYS look mild in comparison. When the film wasn’t seething with CGI enhanced dementia and Ministry of Booze and Drug Addled Silly Walks, it was a sad eyed and wistful meditation by Duke on the end of the Soulfull Sixties and of the higher minded New Hollywood era of film art and the beginning of the soulless, lower minded and CGI enhanced blockbuster loot lusting film era after the TZ disaster in 1982, with Las Vegas and its money lusting casinotels implicitly linked to Hollywood and its money lusting studios, particularly the Bazooko Circus Casino, home to the film art linked Flying Fellini trapeze team.
Indeed, the film’s allusions to such allegorical Coppola films as YOU’RE A BIG BOY NOW (1966), APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) and ONE FROM THE HEART (1982) implicitly affirmed that the film was wistfully meditating on the Skyrocking New Hollywood years before the TZ disaster and the failure of Coppola to sweep away blockbuster loot lusting Old Hollywood with his film art, while the fact that the second Las Vegas casinotel room that was trashed by Duke and his equally booze and drug addled and implicitly Coppola linked companion, Doctor Gonzo-played by Benecio Del Toro-was numbered 2073 implicitly affirmed that the film was also meditating wistfully on all that had gone wrong for New Hollywood since July 23, 1982. In fact, given the resemblance of Dr. Gonzo to Coppola, and the film’s allusions to pre-TZ disaster Coppola films, the implication was that Raoul Duke was linked to Robert Duvall, who played Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in APOCALYPSE NOW. And how fitting that one of the last shots in the film that saw Duke typing away in his second trashed casinotel room was photographed in a way to give the impression that the room was a jail cell. This evoked the similar radio station as jail cell beginning of THE FISHER KING and the various cells Cole was imprisoned in in 12 MONKEYS, linking FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS to those two films to truly bring the American Nightmare Trilogy full nightmarish circle.
Curiously, Jonathan Frakes returned to the Temple Theatre that year to implicitly roast Gilliam and the implicitly anti-CGI outlook of 12 MONKEYS in the symbolic form of F. Murray Abraham’s Ru’afo in his allegorical, BRAZIL evoking and CGI supporting allegorical film, STAR TREK INSURRECTION (1998). Then it was time to pedal eagerly off to Gilliam’s next allegorical project, THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, collapsed for various reasons detailed in the allegorical Keith Fulton and Luis Pepe film, LOST IN LA MANCHA (2002). As a result, a despondent Gilliam began work on another allegorical, idiosyncratic, creative, fantastic realist, gleefully satirical, cycledelic and CGI enhanced animaction film, spelt BICYCLETTES D’AMOUR en Paris, and in the rest of the world as THE TIMELY AND FISHY ADVENTURES OF SAMMY THE JABBERING MONKEY AND HIS FEARSOME SINO-BRAZILIAN BICYCLE (2003.58).
‘Here’s to humans in stinking cages-without bicycles! Hah hah’
Of course, the allusive title of the film, which openly but subtly referred to all of the madcap and quixotic animaction film art of Gilliam, immediately implied that, as in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, he was again moodily meditating on his derailed film career and how he had been forced to accept dreaded SMFs after the failure of THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN. Thus, the sight of Sammy the jabbering monkey-played by Oodle the poodle-jubilantly pedaling his Sino-Brazilian astro-bicycle across the solar system and being waylaid by the Red Herring Hood-played by Sir Laurence Olivier-the mysterious and enigmatic leader of a hot blooded crew of space pirates in the cold and lawless asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, symbolized---
We profusely apologize for the foregoing nonsense, caused by a lingering head injury suffered by Sir Handlebar-Muffton while biking up the Great Pyramid of Giza without an approved helmet. Dr. Gunda Fahrradgottin of the University of Wittenberg will now complete the essay.
Danke, Herr Lambert. For this unusually frustrating period in Gilliam’s life is perhaps best summed up not by words but by ‘Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Bell’, my Concerto for Bicycle Bells in D Major. First, we start with eerie and twilit silence, the eerie and shocked silence that initially reigned on the Landis set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE after the fatal helicopter crash. Then, the sad and mournful keen of a bicycle bell softly and plaintively rents the…
Yes, yes, thank you very much, Frau Fahrradgottin. Our profound apologies for the foregoing silliness. We will know play ‘Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Bell’, the Concerto for Bicycle Bells, in the more appropriate C Minor.
Stop it! Stop this silliness at once! This has gone too far! Time for some discipline in the ranks. Stand at attention, you slackers! Eyes front! And get that smirk off your face, reader! Do you think this is a game? Right! That’s better. It’s clearly time to get you scousers back on the right path, and who better to do that than Mr. Wright. Get on with it, Gardevil!
At once, Colonel! !Ready aye ready! Of course, what we really needed to know was that, after failing to film THE MAN WHO KILLED THROATWARBLER MANGROVE, Gilliam attempted to escape from SMF limbo forever in his next allegorical, fantastic realist, gleefully satirical and CGI enhanced animaction film, often referred to in New York as BICYCLE REPAIR MAN: THE MOVIE, and in most other parts in the solar system as THE BROTHERS GRIMM (2005).
‘Good people of Marbadan, your daughters will be returned, and you shall regain your courage and your bicycles!’
Significantly, the quixotic and madcap quest of the implicitly Sir Ridley and Tony Scott linked Willhelm and Jakob Grimm-played by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger [a natural for the role, given his appearance as the perhaps Gilliam Terrence linked William Thatcher in the allegorical and JABBERWOCKY evoking Brian Helgeland film, A KNIGHT’S TALE (2001)], respectively-to free the small but fortified citadel of Marbadan, Germany and its surrounding and creepy woods from the insidious and vampiric grip of the latest blockbuster beast to appear in a Gilliam film, the Wicked and CGI enhanced Queen of Mirrors and illusions-played by Monica Belluci-and her favourite and implicitly Landis linked servant, the Woodsman-whose ability to transform into a werewolf made him a beastly and nasty fellow, indeed, and one with big, sharp, slavering teeth, affirming his link to Landis via the allegorical and implicitly Kubrick addressing Landis film, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981), and played by Tomas Hanak-implicitly roasted the implicit support given to Landis by the Brothers Scott in their film art-particularly Sir Scott in such allegorical fare as GLADIATOR (2000), HANNIBAL (2001) and BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001).
Indeed, the allusions to such allegorical Brothers Scott films as the implicitly Lucas addressing Sir Scott film, THE DUELLISTS (1977), the implicitly Landis addressing Scott film, THE HUNGER (1983), and the implicitly Landis and Lucas addressing film, LEGEND (1986), affirmed the implicit intent of THE BROTHERS GRIMM. The fact that the Grimm brothers succeeded in their symbolic quest to free Hollywood from wicked CGI film art by killing the wicked Queen and the woodsman, in the end, and returned in triumph to the CGI free, everyday reality of the village of Marbaden-evoking the sight of Dennis the Cooper returning in triumph to the fortified citadel after he killed the Jabberwocky at the end of JABBERWOCKY-also implied a hope on the part of Gilliam that the Brothers Scott would come to their senses and stop implicitly supporting Landis in their film art. Alas, it was not to be, as Sir Scott again implied his support for Landis that year in his allegorical film, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2005). A circumstance that no doubt caused Gilliam to cycle pensively and moodily before he returned with Bridges with his next allegorical, fantastic realist and gleefully satirical animaction film, not known in Tokyo as SEVEN CYCLISTS, and not referred to anywhere else as anything but TIDELAND (2005), based on the allegorical Mitch Cullin novel, Tideland (2000).
‘It’s the monster shark! It’s coming for the bicycle!’
Significantly, the film began with music and the voice of Jodelle Ferlan’s Jeliza Rose reading from the allegorical Carroll novel, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (1865), heard over a black screen, evoking the idiosyncratic Spielberg way of starting a film that Gilliam had already imitated at the beginning of THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN. Thus, before the black screen disappeared and the film even began, the implication was that Gilliam was roasting Spielberg again as in JABBERWOCKY, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and THE FISHER KING. Curiouserly, however, after that Spielbergian beginning, and after mysteriously playing with Rose in a gorgeously daylit and lush sea of Saskatchewan barley or wheat and in an abandoned school bus, we then travelled back in time and implicitly found ourselves in Lucas territory, rocking out a club and then tripping out at home with the implicitly Lucas linked and heroin addicted Boomer rock star, Noah-played by Bridges-his drug use evoking that of Duke Raoul and Dr. Gonzo in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Soon, his equally addicted and haggish Gen X wife, Queen Gunhilda-played by Jennifer Tilly-was dying like all Wicked Witches of the East in the Ozian film art of Lucas of a reaction to methadone, causing Noah to flee the dead Witch and take their foetal drug syndrome daughter, Rose to the isolated and rural family home in that daylit and lush sea of Saskatchewan grain that he fled as a rebel Boomer youth, where he then faded wistfully, and despondently, away in one last heroin rush.
This tragicomic prologue reminded us that Lucas had tried to reignite his career, film art and life with his STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy (1999-2005) and had not succeeded, causing his dreams to die as surely as Queen Gunhilda and sending him also fleeing bitterly back to his isolated and rural Skywalker Ranch like Noah, where he too faded wistfully and despondently away, haunted by the generations of youth he had addicted to spectacular and computer aided visual effects, finally giving up the Force ghost and selling the moisture farm to Disney in 2012. Thus, the similarities between the lives of Noah and Lucas affirmed the implication that Noah symbolized Lucas. This implicit intent was reaffirmed by the return of Bridges as Noah, evoking his link to the implicitly Lucas linked ‘Wolfman’ Jack Lucas in THE FISHER KING. A reappearance by Bridges that also affirmed just how far Lucas had fallen, given that Lucas and Spielberg were implicitly wished success and happiness again with their film art at the end of THE FISHER KING.
Curiouserly and curiouserly, after the overdose of Noah, we finally found ourselves in the Spielberg roasting territory implied by the black screen that began TIDELAND. For Rose left the beat up old house and explored that cheerily daylit and lush sea of Saskatchewan grain, bringing us back to the mysterious few moments of the film, and eventually meeting and befriending as best she could the implicitly Spielberg and Wicked Witch of the West linked Dell-played by Janet McTeer-and the Cole and Nikko evoking, implicitly Cameron linked and epileptic childman, Dickens-played by Brendan Fletcher. Tragicomically, Dickens quickly affirmed his implicit link to Cameron by confiding to Rose that he was on a desperate and obsessive quest in his imaginary submarine-bicycles no doubt being a bit awkward to ride through a daylit and lush sea of Saskatchewan grain-to hunt down and kill a blockbuster beast of a shark-or was that simply one of the many passing trains?-that infested the lush sea of Saskatchewan grain, an obsessive submarining quest that evoked Cameron’s love of submarines, undersea exploration and equally obsessive and quixotic assaults on the blockbuster beast in his twilit, righteously furious and always allegorical Zonebusting films-particularly in his allegorical film, ALIENS (1986). Of course, this imaginary and blockbuster shark with big rows of tearing teeth openly evoked the great white shark of JAWS, openly affirming that the release of JAWS had caused Gilliam to begin his animaction film art career with JABBERWOCKY, bringing his life and allegorical film art full circle.
Even more curiouserly, TIDELAND was the only madcap and blockbuster beast battling Gilliam film to date that did not end in a catastrophic but healing and harmonizing triumph over the beast, a disastrous but healing triumph that J.R.R. Tolkien called an ‘eucatastrophe’. Instead, the film ended with Rose wandering through the fiery and smoking night amongst the dead and wounded passengers of a train derailment, a blockbuster derailment perhaps caused by the deranged Dickens in his obsessive quest to use stolen dynamite to terminate the blockbuster beast that bedeviled him. It was an unusually pensive and despondent climatic victory over the beast that implied not only that Gilliam believed that Cameron would never succeed in his madcap Zonebusting quest, but that perhaps it was best not to bother, that perhaps the beast was necessary, after all. If the result of the beast was highly realistic CGI, which was used to good supportive effect in the film to enhance the spectacular and full colour fantasies of Rose. Indeed, TIDELAND featured the most CGI in any Gilliam film, implying that he had changed his mind about its use and was now convinced that it could be successfully used to enhance higher minded and humourous film art as easily as it could be used to disgrace lower minded and beastly blockbuster film art. Not that it impressed Sean Penn, for he implicitly roasted Gilliam and TIDELAND in his allegorical film, INTO THE WILD (2007). However, despite this roasting, a more relaxed and confident embrace of CGI continued when Gilliam returned with Depp, Ledger, Christopher Plummer-who had played Leland Goines in 12 MONKEYS-Verne Troyer-who had played a mysterious little person in FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS-and Tom Waits-who had played a Vietnam vet reduced to begging in Union Station in THE FISHER KING-in his next allegorical, fantastic realist, gleefully satirical and CGI enhanced animaction film, KING SOLOMON’S BICYCLES, better known outside of Sydney as THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARN-ASSUS (2009).
‘You can’t stop stories being told-on or off bicycles.’
Curiously, it was not clear whether Gilliam addressed Lucas or himself in the film. For the sight of Plummer’s sixty-something Doctor Parn-assus chasing down a youthful lover and then losing her when she gave birth to Valentina-played by Lily Cole-reminded us that Lucas had tried to recapture the success and vitality of his youth with the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy and failed to connect with audiences. Thus, the wager Dr. Parn-assus made with the film’s blockbuster beast, the gleefully insidious Devil-who evoked Evil in TIME BANDITS, and was played by Waits-to exchange his immortality for a peaceful and anonymous old age if he saved five souls from damnation before the Devil dragged them off to Hell implicitly symbolized the hope of Gilliam that Lucas would free himself now from the STAR WARS curse and enjoy a peaceful retirement. Contrariwise, Gilliam also implied that he might really be grousing that he had failed himself and his own principles by agreeing to create the five dreaded SMFs after the popular and financial failure of THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN. If so, the wager to break free from diabolical immortality by liberating five souls before the Devil corrupted them symbolized Gilliam’s hope that he could free himself from the angry and embittered guilt he felt for making the five dreaded SMFs between THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS. This implication was underlined by the fact that THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARN-ASSUS was finally based on an original script that Gilliam co-wrote with McKeown, his collaborator on THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN and BRAZIL. The presence of Plummer’s Munchausen-like Doctor Parnassus, whose mobile theatre and film long lament for the loss of imagination on Earth evoked the embattled Temple Theatre of, and Munchausen’s own lament for the loss of the imagination in, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN, reaffirmed the implication that Gilliam was lamenting his Lost Years in THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARN-ASSUS. The return of Depp, Ledger and Waits also reaffirmed this implication, as they appeared in three of the five dreaded SMFs.
Thus, it was important that Parnassus beat the Devil and Ledger’s implicitly Spielberg linked Anthony ‘Tony’ Shepherd with the fantastic world of the individual imagination hidden behind his film theatre screen evoking magic theatre mirror-a gleefully madcap, imaginative and colourful CGI enhanced world that often turned the film into a CGI version of the cut-out animation sequences Gilliam created for MONTY PYTHON’S FLYING CIRCUS-won the wager and saved sweet Valentina, the embodiment of pure and higher minded film art and returned to everyday, unenhanced reality bumming alone and without a bicycle on Robson Street outside the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library. For the ending implicitly summed up Gilliam’s hope that he had not entirely sold his soul, self respect and credibility to the Devil or to the studios in return for being allowed to make their dreaded SMFs rather than his own more idiosyncratic and thoughtful animaction film art. An indomitable commitment to his own idiosyncratic and imaginative film art that returned with Damon in his next allegorical, fantastic realist, gleefully satirical and CGI enhanced animaction film, known every second Tuesday in Beijing as PLANET OF THE CYCLISTS, and everywhere else except Ottawa as THE ZERO THEOREM (2013).
‘My name is Leth, and I ride a Kona.’
Indeed, the madcap, tragicomic and mostly pointless quest of Christoph Waltz‘s solitary and obsessive ManCom employee, Leth, to forego cycling and devote himself to finding the answer to the all important Zero Theorem-a ‘theorem’ that implicitly symbolized the meaninglessness of life and writing about the TZ disaster, in the estimation of Gilliam-was implicitly linked throughout THE ZERO THEOREM to the equally madcap, tragicomic, solitary and obsessive quest of Wright-the last but not least blockbuster beast in a Gilliam animaction film-to decipher all of the allegorical fiction and film art of the dread Zone Wars so as to finally understand and reveal the truth about the TZ disaster. Indeed, the fact that the Zero Theorem was referred to as the TZ reversing ‘ZT’ throughout the film implicitly affirmed the Gardevil intent of the film, reminding us that the fatal helicopter crash on the Landis set of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE was always referred to as the TZ disaster throughout the writings of Wright. The fact that the left evoking surname of Leth mockingly and contrarily evoked the surname of Wright, and that the sight of the bald Leth spending long hours in front of his computer in his lonely building frantically trying to solve the ZT evoked the sight of the equally bald Wrigth spending long hours at his computer in his lonely apartment frantically trying to solve the TZ implicitly affirmed the allegorical intent of the inimitable and irrepressible Gilliam. The return of Damon as the implicitly David Cronenberg evoking Management, and the appearance of Melanie Thierry as the Polley evoking Bainsley reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Toronto film art, film artists and film art scholars. Curiously, THE ZERO THEOREM and the rest of the allegorical animaction film art of Gilliam appeared to strike a chord with Angelina Jolie, as she implicitly toasted ‘Superscamp’ Gilliam in the form of the indomitable Louis ‘Louie’ Zamperini-played by Jack O’Connell-and roasted Penn and INTO THE WILD in her allegorical film, UNBROKEN (2014).
And so, and on this pensive and implicitly garish note, it seemed fitting to ask the person in the street what they thought of Gilliam’s lifelong cinematic quest to slay the slathering and insatiable blockbuster beast.
‘I think Terry Jones has done a wonderful job protecting us from the blockbuster beast! Simply smashing!’ said a kindly old woman and helpful volunteer at the Chinese Bicycle Museum in Ipswich.
‘The beast must be outlawed at once!’ thundered a burly and bearded biker.
‘Terry Gilliam? Did he ride for Virgin in last year’s Tour?’ wondered a bowler hatted and black suited City accountant.
‘I love BICYCLE REPAIR MAN: THE MOVIE!’ enthused A. Gumby.
‘Well, I didn’t take the beast seriously until one bit my Aunt Percy on the left buttock’, said a man in a McQueen dress and Gucci flats.
‘Rubbish! There is no such thing as a blockbuster-aaarrrrrggggggkkkkkk!’
Thus, and in the end, here at the conclusion of the essay, with no more left to write, finality staring us poignantly in the face, termination about to arrive, and with that wistful feeling that always arrives at the end of anything, when we wonder about all of the might have beens and could have beens and should have beens, Gilliam implicitly affirmed that the quixotic quest to kill the towering, ravenous and bug-eyed blockbuster beast with big sharp teeth would-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrgggghhhkk!
We do profusely apologize for the frustrating and disappointing inability of Mr. Wright to finish his ‘insightful’ essay into the allegorical, undaunted and implicitly blockbuster beast thrashing film art of T. V. Gilliam. Unfortunately, however, a towering and ravenous Peruvian spotted llama sprang out of nowhere and attacked Mr. Wright when he unwisely stepped out for a bit of air to clear the cobwebs rather than cycle down th--aaaaaarrrrggggghhhhhkkkkk!
Good evening. My name is Sir Edith Peacock, and I am the Secretary-Treasurer and LGBTQ liaison of the Chinese Bicycle Museum in Ipswich. On behalf of all of the members of the General Council of the museum, I would like to express my sincere and deepest apologies for the foregoing and completely uncalled for silliness. We all know that there are no such things as towering llamas who hide behind shrubberies waiting patiently to attack unsuspecting pedestrians-particularly not llamas of the Peruvian spotted variety, a sound and sensible animal not likely to be led astray by confusions of blockbuster grandeur. In fact---agggggghhhhhkkkkleeee!
Right! That’s enough from you scousing wankers! There will be no more silliness on my watch! Suffice to say that Gilliam’s allegorical and indomitably irreverent, imaginative and satirical animaction film art was indeed a squired taste, and, unlike you spineless and long haired lot, always so ready and eager for a good manly scrap with the blockbuster beast that his oeuvre was best described as completely and unrepentantly Jabberwacky.
- Haw! Fooled ya!
Gilliam, Terry. Gilliamesque: my me, me, me memoir. Edinburgh:
Sterritt, David and Lucille Rhodes. Terry Gilliam: interviews. Jackson, MI:
University Press of Mississippi, 2004.