Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Imagination Trilogy

Let’s chat a bit about the imagination trilogy of Terry Gilliam.  Terry Gilliam is known for making very surreal movies.  But three have been considered part of his “Imagination Trilogy”. They take characters that live in worlds of imagination at different ages of their lives.  They consist of “Time Bandits”, “Brazil” and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”.  I am not going to give too much in the way of spoilers or synopsis because if I did we would be here all day.  These movies are VERY layered.

They are all clever movies and totally worth seeing.  If you are into British humor they can be incredibly funny at times and insightful the rest of the time.  So let’s start with Gilliam’s vision of imagination through the eyes of a child.  

“Mom, Dad, don’t touch it. It’s evil.”-Kevin

“Time Bandits” is about a smart 11 year old boy who is very interested in history.  His parents think he is foolish and care only for new technology of the modern era.  As he is sleeping one night he is visited by six dwarves who have stolen a map from the Supreme Being and use it to hopscotch through time and space to steal shit. 

So Kevin meets many interesting characters on his journey, Napoleon, Robin Hood, and King Agamemnon, played by Sean Connery.  The embodiment of evil is the villain and he wants the map so that he can go back through time and remake the world in his image rather than the Supreme Being’s.  The cast is studded with cameos and it’s very well done.  When I was a kid the ending used to weird me out but now I appreciate that the gloomy finality to it all.  Its fun, it’s dark and it’s worth watching if you are into that style of humor.

“Don’t fight it son.  Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating.”-Guard

Next up was “Brazil” this one is my favorite of the trilogy.  It’s about a man who lives in a world that is almost straight out of the book "1984". Sam Lowry is a man who is a low level government worker who often daydreams about rescuing a beautiful maiden.  He becomes involved in a misunderstanding due to a red tape foul up and meets the girl of his dreams.  The confusion makes him seem to be part of a terrorist conspiracy.

​Gilliam again gives us lots of amazing actors giving standup performances.  The dark humor is kicked up a notch and the end is considerably darker as well but in this case what makes this movie work is that the end is the most realistic of all of the “Imagination Trilogy”.  I think another thing that makes me personally like this movie so much is I see so much of my own personality in the Sam Lowry character.  

​When his apartment is trashed by repairmen and you know his personal space is invaded you can see pain in his eyes as he returns to his imaginary world he’s created where he is the hero.  He is able to fly and he able to take on his troubles head on without hiding.  Jonathan Pryce is a hell of an actor.  Why he was shafted so hard in the second and third “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies is beyond me.  

“Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash and I’m delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever”-Baron Munchausen

Baron Munchausen takes place during an unnamed war in an unnamed European city.  During the “Age of Reason” the Turkish army is outside a city getting ready to attack. Meanwhile a touring group of actors puts on a play of the adventures of Baron Munchausen.  They are shocked when an old man comes up to them telling them to stop because he is the real Baron.  Captivating the audience with a story of one of his exploits he wins the attention of Sally Salt, a VERY young Sarah Polley, who convinces him to keep living when she notices Death is following after the Baron.

He insists that he can save the city if he gets his super human crew together.  So he and Sally go off far and wide to retrieve these characters.  Along the way we see cameos by the ton again.  Robin Williams, Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman make this movie an impressive bit of fairy tale.  It’s one of the only movies that, while there is a twist to it, can be considered one of the happier endings of the trilogy.

As a whole they are all fantastic movies.  They give us the views of the imaginations of a boy, a man, and an old man and they do it well.  There is a lot to be said about them all individually but honestly I think if you get a chance give one or more of these a try you if you like British or dark humor you won’t be disappointed.

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