Terry Gilliam

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Terry Gilliam
Terry Gilliam

Terence Vance Gilliam (born November 22 1940) is an American film director and former member of the Monty Python comedy group.


Early life

Gilliam was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.


Terry Gilliam started off as an animator and strip cartoonist; one of his early photographic strips for Harvey Kurtzman's Help! magazine featured John Cleese. Moving to England, he animated features for Do Not Adjust Your Set and then joined Monty Python's Flying Circus when it was created. He was the only non-British member. He was the principal artist-animator of the surreal cartoons which frequently linked the show's sketches together, and defined the group's visual language in other mediums. He also appeared in several sketches and played side parts in the films.

Gilliam's Monty Python animations have a distinctive style. He mixed his own art, characterized by soft gradients and odd bulbous shapes, with backgrounds and moving cutouts from antique photographs, mostly from the Victorian era. The style has been mimicked repeatedly throughout the years: in the children's television cartoon Angela Anaconda, a series of television commercials for Guinness Beer, the Jibjab cartoons on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the television history series Terry Jones' Medieval Lives.


Terry Gilliam went on to become a film director. Gilliam's Brazil is known among cineastes as a fine example of the archetypal risk-averse, noncreative movie studio corporation attempting lamely to widen the appeal of a movie, at the cost of ruining the artistic integrity of the film. Gilliam's battles with Universal Studios over the movie are notorious and well documented.

His films are usually highly imaginative and fantastical. Most of his movies include plotlines that seem to occur in the characters' imagination, raising questions of the definition of sanity. He often shows his opposition to bureaucracy and authoritarian regimes. He also distinguishes higher and lower layers of society with a disturbing and ironic style. His movies usually feature a fight or struggle against a great power which may be an emotional situation, a human-made idol, or even the person him/her-self, and the situations do not always end happily. There is usually a paranoid and dark atmosphere and unusual characters who once were normal members of society. His scripts feature a dark sense of humour and often end with a dark twist.

His films have a distinctive look, often recognizable from just a short clip. There is often a baroqueness about the movies, with, for instance, computer monitors in one film equipped with magnifying lenses, and in another a red knight covered with flapping bits of cloth. He also is given to incongruous juxtapositions, say of beauty and ugliness, or antique and modern.

Gilliam has acquired the reputation of making extremely expensive movies beset with production problems. After the lengthy quarreling with Universal Studios over Brazil, Gilliam's next picture, The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen, cost around US$46 million, and then earned only about US$8 million in US ticket sales. A decade later, Gilliam attempted to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, allegedly set as the highest-budgeted film to only use European financing; but on the first day of shooting, the actor playing Don Quixote suffered a herniated disc and the entire film was cancelled, resulting in a US$15 million insurance claim. Gilliam's reputation in this regard has been sufficient for the humor newspaper The Onion to run a news article entitled "Terry Gilliam Barbecue Plagued By Production Delays".

Films directed

He has several projects in various states of development, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's comic fantasy novel Good Omens.

Gilliam's unsuccessful efforts in 1999 and 2000 to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, based on Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote, were the subject of the 2002 documentary Lost In La Mancha. His two efforts to film the Watchmen comics, in 1989 and 1996, were also unsuccessful.


  • Gilliam, Terry and Christie, Ian (Ed.) (1999). Gilliam On Gilliam. Faber & Faber. ISBN 0571191908

External links

Monty Python Missing image

Members Graham ChapmanJohn CleeseTerry GilliamEric IdleTerry JonesMichael Palin
Other Contributors Carol ClevelandNeil InnesConnie Booth
Films & TV Series Monty Python's Flying CircusAnd Now For Something Completely DifferentMonty Python and the Holy GrailMonty Python's Life of BrianMonty Python Live at the Hollywood BowlThe Meaning of Life
cs:Terry Gilliam

da:Terry Gilliam de:Terry Gilliam es:Terry Gilliam fr:Terry Gilliam it:Terry Gilliam he:טרי גיליאם hu:Terry Gilliam nl:Terry Gilliam ja:テリー・ギリアム pl:Terry Gilliam pt:Terry Gilliam sk:Terry Gilliam sv:Terry Gilliam tr:Terry Gilliam


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