Transmute base metal into gold,
suffering into consciousness,
disaster into enlightenment.”
St. Germain told a MySpace friend (whom he introduced to me for some telepathic support during a challenging time), "Lighten up, daughter of light! Have fun and enjoy the ride, for it is not all as serious as you would like to believe...laugh once in a while and enjoy your time of waking up! Life is not a funeral!"
1. In his commentary on the DVD (The Janus Films Director Introduction Series. ‘Terry Gilliam on Frederico Fellini’s 8½’), Terry Gilliam explains that he and the Italian maestro shared the same background as cartoonists (whose job it is to ‘stretch and distort’ the world, he says). Although Gilliam aspires to bring the same weird and wonderful magic to the screen that is where the resemblance ends for me although The Fisher King (1991), which I found inspiring enough to watch three times, is an admirable attempt. I found the uniqueness of Brazil, his take on Nineteen Eighty-Four (apparently, he was even considering the title 1984½ as a nod to his idol since it was this year in which he made the film!), very engaging albeit, perhaps, because he had never actually ventured to read George Orwell’s novel! (I have watched this film a few times over the years too). With similar disregard to ‘reality,’ Gilliam suggests: “Clearly what happened here is that Fellini was working on a movie, he didn’t know really how to finish it and it wasn’t really coming together, and so he wrote a movie about making a movie about a director who doesn’t know how to make or finish his movie.” Hasn’t it occurred to the former Python animator that Fellini surely received the inspiration to make such a film some years earlier whilst experiencing difficulties during the making of another film and also whilst enduring periods of creative block (Wikipedia states that “Fellini first outlined his film ideas about a man suffering creative block” in a letter to his colleague Brunello Rondi in 1960”)? Lost in La Mancha (2002), in which Gilliam plays a director who fails miserably to finish a film about the death of Don Quixote, goes down as the worst film I ever paid to see at a cinema. I am a fan of every film Johnny Depp has starred in except this one. Just as reality interferes with that jinxed project, Gilliam’s role in this ‘frivolous venture’ is clearly a reflection of his own wake-up call that, like Guido, he ought to have quit while he was ahead and accepted his limitations! Another ‘squalid miscarriage’ in which Gilliam was involved is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which he directed in 1988. I can’t tell you how horrified I was to find that one of my favourite films of all time, Münchhausen, had been butchered and cheapened so in this appallingly mediocre rendition. Gilliam, apparently, did not like this wonderful German version of the story (which is based upon Rudolf Erich Raspe ‘s book Baron Münchhausen's Narrative of his Marvellous Travels, first published in 1785). Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, on the other hand, which Gilliam directed in 1995 and 1998 respectively, are, really, the films that define Gilliam as a progressive and mature director for me (although he did also direct Monty Python and the Holy Grail back in the 70s apparently). ‘You win some, you lose some.’ So, let’s end this on a positive note: “As Gilliam's fans are well aware,” writes Liz Ohanesian, “the filmmaker's body of work is marked with stories of dreamers and rebels whose lofty ideas stand against the conventions of their world. They are the heroes of non-conformity, embarking on quests that may seem ludicrous to some, much like the artist himself.” (13 August 2009, www.blogs.laweekly.com/style_council/film/terry-gilliams-visionaries).