The Outrageous (Mis)Fortune of Terry Gilliam

Anyone who's ever seen the heartbreaking documentary Lost in La Mancha knows that esteeemed filmmaker Terry Gilliam does not have fortune on his side when he's making films. But what might be less familiar to people is that his bad luck has followed him almost since the beginning of his career. According to film blog Cineleet:

No director in history knows more about compromise than Terry Gilliam. Part and parcel of being a visionary is being constantly told you can’t get the shot. Forces of Darkness conspire to defeat you, often in the form of studio executives, sometimes in the form of Nature herself.

Right now, they have a great post documenting many of the challenges Gilliam has faced, from 1977's Jabberwocky all the way through next year's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, which was dramatically affected by the tragic death of Heath Ledger (Ledger was slated to portrayed one of the film's main characters). I can't imagine the fortitude it takes for a man like Gilliam, who's suffered countless setbacks, to keep pressing forward. I'd like to think that the visions he has for his movies prevent him from stopping.


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From what I heard, the Brothers Grimm cost 70 million. That's just a lot of money. Like feed a small country money, if they can't recoup, it's not like Weinstein and other producers are being venal. That's just too much of the world's finite resources going into a project that no one is going to enjoy anyway.

I have some respect for Terry's iconoclasm, but still, I can hardly follow whats going on in his movies, and I've tried, from Time Bandits on.

His signature is his oddball visuals. Nice. When he can make a movie with a narrative, then we can do lunch.
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@ Thespian24601
Welles notoriously had problems with studios, most notably with the recutting/reshooting of "The Magnificent Ambersons", and the subsequent choice of the studio to destroy the negative because it was taking up "storage space". I'd call that more than a minor setback.
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Gilliam is a great filmmaker. I loved Brazil, The Baron of Munchausen and 12 Monkeys. When I first read about Heath Ledger's death, I immediately thought about Gilliam's string of bad luck. I'm glad the new film will be finished after all.
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