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Fox Lorber presents

The Directors: Terry Gilliam (1997)

"It was a very special time, when we were allowed to get away with murder, and the fact that it translates and other people like it, I think is partly that it is so unique and special and not trying to please anybody but us. A lot of people just don't get it, and never will, and we don't care. And the people that do get it love it, and I would rather go for people being passionate about what we do as opposed to, 'oh, that was okay, that wasn't bad.'"- Terry Gilliam, on the making of Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Stars: Terry Gilliam
Other Stars: Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Brad Pitt, Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Reuhl, Madeleine Stowe, David Warner
Director: Robert J. Emery

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 00h:58m:29s
Release Date: 2000-05-30
Genre: documentary

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Image Transfer
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DVD Review

This volume in the continuing series The Directors profiles one of my very favorite directors, Terry Gilliam. Since Gilliam has a fairly small output of work, the hour running time is more leisurely than some of the entries in this series, and we both get more in-depth interviews as well as more and longer film clips. The combination is winning and gives a much more satisfactory portrayal of the director than those volumes devoted to more prolific directors.

Gilliam is quite forthcoming about his work, as those familiar with the Criterion versions of his films will be aware, so there is solid content here. For instance, he is ready to acknowledge that part of the success of Monty Python and the Holy Grail is because they didn't have any money to work with; this made them more inventive overall and made for a better picture. If they had had money, they would have just made a mediocre epic. Gilliam is also forthright about his differences with the rest of the Python troupe and the evolution of their relationships. While there is the obligatory amount of fawning by the guest stars, there is also a fair amount of serious and thoughtful comment on Gilliam and his work.

In the section on Brazil, the uninformed viewer might get the idea that Universal studios was behind that film all the way, when the exact opposite is the case. The program makes it sound as if Universal rushed it into release in order to qualify the film for the Academy Awards®. This was done only after Gilliam took out full page ads demanding the release of his film and surreptitious screenings for the Los Angeles critics.

Film clips for other films include Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King and Twelve Monkeys.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The image of the interview segments is perfectly satisfactory for a television program. Colors are not bright or vivid but are decent. The picture seems a shade dark. Blacks are slightly greyed. The bit rate is quite high, ranging right around 8 Mbps.

The film clips in general come through well, although the clips from Jabberwocky are afflicted with a wavering quality that makes it look as if it was taken from a videotape master. Most of the film clips are in widescreen, with the exception of Jabberwocky, Meaning of Life and Fisher King. I would have much preferred that all of the films be shown in their original aspect ratio, but this is definitely a step above the nearly uniform pan & scan versions of the films which appeared on the first wave of the releases in this series.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: By and large, the audio is reasonably good. The DD 2.0 is satisfactory for the interview segments, and the film clips by and large don't suffer too badly. Dialogue is clear throughout as is the music. I do wish that this series would lose the pseudo-porn theme music, though.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Alpha
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. weblink
Extras Review: Again, there is precious little to be seen in the way of extras here. We get a one-screen filmography for Gilliam, and a single weblink, and chapter selection, and that's it. No subtitles are provided.

Extras Grade: D

Final Comments

A solid look at one of the most intriguing directors out there. If you're only intending to buy one of this series, this disc is the one to get. Definitely worth a rental for film lovers and fans of Gilliam.

Mark Zimmer 2000-05-23