Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam is one of today's most maverick filmmakers who has produced some weird and wonderful cinema over the years.

This week he returns with his latest picture The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which is the last movie by the late Heath Ledger.

Although he was born in Medicine Lake, Minnesota Gilliam obtained British citizenship in 1968 and married British make-up and costume designer Maggie Weston five years later.

Before moving to England in the late sixties the director was an animator and strip cartoonist but his move to England changed all of that.

While he animated features for Do Not Adjust Your Set it was meeting Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin that saw his career take a turn in a different direction.

Of course I'm talking about Monty Python and it was Gilliam's drawings that linked the show's sketches together. He would go on to have small roles in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian.

Despite finding fame in Monty Python it's for his directing over the years for which he is now most famous and he began producing fantasy movies.

He kicked off his solo directing career, he did co-direct Holy Grail with Terry Jones, with Jabberwocky in 1977, which starred Michael Palin.

But it was Time Bandits in 1981 that really got the ball rolling for Gilliam as it was met with a good reception from the critics.It also did well at the box office easily making back it's $5 budget.

There was awards recognition for his next movie The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was nominated for four Oscars.

Into the nineties and there was more success with The Fisher King, which starred Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges. There were five Oscar nods for the movie, including Best Actor for Robin Williams, and Mercedes Ruehl went on to pick up Best Supporting Actress.

He followed this up in 1995 with 12 Monkeys, which was inspired by the French short film La Jetée from 1962.

When Cole (Bruce Willis), a convict volunteer, is sent back in time to find information on a deadly virus that will destroy 5,000,000,000 members of the human race in 1996-1997, he mistakenly arrives in 1990.

After explaining his plea to Dr. Kathryn Railly, he is placed in a mental institution. In 1996, he kidnaps Railly, using her to find the 12 Monkeys, a group of revolutionists that are planning to release the virus into select cities.

But, he is wanted by the authorities for murder and kidnapping, plus he refuses to return to the future.

It was another hit for Gilliam as the critics praised the movie on release, Brad Pitt went on to be nominated for a best Supporting Actor Oscar.

He teamed up with Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro next for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream.

The movie screened at the Cannes Film Festival but, when it was released, failed to make back it's budget. However over the years the movie has gained a cult following.

Gilliam didn't make another movie until the The Brothers Grimm in 2005, his first movie with Heath Ledger.

And he teams up with Ledger again this week with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus which was thrown into chaos when the actor died in January 2008  the middle of filming.

Dr. Parnassus has the extraordinary gift of inspiring the imaginations of others. Helped by his travelling theatre troupe, including his sarcastic and cynical sidekick Percy and versatile young player Anton, Parnassus offers audience members the chance to transcend mundane reality by passing through a magical mirror into a fantastic universe of limitless imagination.

However, Parnassus' magic comes at a price. For centuries he's been gambling with the devil, Mr. Nick who is coming to collect his prize, Parnassus' precious daughter, Valentina on her upcoming 16th birthday.

Oblivious to her rapidly approaching fate, Valentina falls for Tony, a charming outsider with motives of his own.

In order to save his daughter and redeem himself, Parnassus makes one final bet with Mr. Nick, which sends Tony and Valentina and the entire theatre troupe on a ride of twists and turns, in and out of London and the Imaginarium's spectacular landscape.

But Gilliam completed the movie in memory of his friend and brought in Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to finish it.

The movie is already a hit with the critics and has done well on the festival circuit so far this year.

In the pipeline for Gilliam is The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and Zero Theorem.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is out now.

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
find me on and follow me on