It’s kind of interesting to think that Terry Gilliam was an avid reader of Mad magazine back in the day and was also a cartoonist for a while before he started making movies that some people will look at askance and some will claim are the best of their time. Everything’s subjective of course when it comes to movies but at the same time one can kind of see what others might are talking about when it comes to some of these movies, though trying to get anyone born after the 90s to agree that yes, these movies are in fact worth something is like mining for gold in ‘them thar hills’, metaphorically-speaking. If you’re old enough you might get the strange analogy and if not, well, better luck next time. All in all though Terry Gilliam’s movies have for the most part withstood the test of time since there are plenty of people still remember a lot of them fondly and some that would gladly quote them verbatim since they made such an impact.
Here are his five best movies.
5. Time Bandits
It’s kind of easy to see why this movie would be considered among the best that Gilliam has to offer but also one that might confuse a few people as to its popularity. It might be that Roger Cormier from Mental Floss could shed some light on why this movie was so popular that a lot of people would want to remember it but watching it would be better since then a person could see the antics and the entirety of why anyone would try to remember it. These older movies are still some of the best since they didn’t always seem so intent on pulling every last aspect of modern-day life into the mix and using it as a prop.
4. The Fisher King
Ben Beaumont-Thomas from The Guardian writes about how Terry Gilliam actually came to think differently of this movie following Robin Williams’ passing since the parallel’s between Williams’ real life and his character were stacked closer together than he realized. The movie has to do with a homeless man that is in a sense helped by another man that is wildly popular and yet sees his time at the top dwindling as a scandal rocks his reputation to the core. As the two go along you get the point that they’re trying to help each other and that in the process they both tend to become better people while finding a part of life that they’d been missing.
3. 12 Monkeys
Imagine having a memory that’s so maddening you can’t quite recognize the importance of it, but the remembrance stays with you anyway. Bruce Willis is charged with traveling to the future to discover just what happened that forced humanity underground when a deadly virus swept throughout the cities and across the world. The only problem is that there’s no way back and no one believes him when he tells his story, which eventually gets him locked in loony bin with the rest of the crazies. But as the movie progresses he finds a way to make someone believe and eventually discovers what that elusive memory was all about.
2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
There aren’t a lot of people these days that haven’t heard about this movie at least but there are still a lot that haven’t seen it and therefore don’t know what it’s all about or why it’s one of the funniest movies ever made. To some it just seems like old gibberish that might have been funny before humor evolved, but to those of us that grew up watching movies like this it’s absolute gold and hasn’t lost a step in the many years since it was made. Sure it’s kind of goofy and off-color in some ways but it was made to be this way and even better, it’s the kind of movie that’s supposed to make sense even while not making sense, if you can follow that.
1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Sean O’Neal of AV Club has a point when he states that this movie has withstood the test of time, and there’s a reason why it has. In a big way it’s what a lot of us writers find kind of romantic and even poetic in a way since the day of the rebel writer might not be as extinct as some might think, but it’s still something that’s not quite as prevalent as it used to be. Beyond that lucid point however is the idea that this movie was little more than a humongous acid trip that was bound and determined to be as messed up as it could get while trying to entertain the audience in a way that might have been frowned on by some but fully embraced by others.
Terry Gilliam knows how to get the audience’s attention in one way or another.