-

Jump to content



Sign up for a free account!

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and you won't get the popup ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo

Terry Gilliam on NPR (thoughts on Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter)


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
52 replies to this topic

#1 of 53 Vickie_M

Vickie_M

    Producer

  • 3,208 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 31 2001

Posted February 04 2003 - 12:30 AM

rtsp://audio.npr.org/fa/20030130.fa.01.smil

Terry Gilliam was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air about the new film Lost in La Mancha, a documentary about the making - and unmaking - of Gilliam's film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. It's a good movie, one of the best I saw last year (at a film festival) and it's a good interview. This part of it caught my ear though.

About 24 minutes in, Gilliam is talking about the possibility of him directing the Harry Potter movies (Rowling wanted him to do it). He really wanted it too.

From the interview:

Barbara Bograve (sp?) (in for Terry Gross): After the La Mancha debacle, you auditioned to direct J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter film, that's one of the things you did in the wake of the Don Quixote mess, for Warner Brothers. How does a director's audition work, what's the protocol?

Terry Gilliam: It wasn't actually that I auditioned. What happened was, that it turned out, J.K. Rowling and the producer wanted me to direct it. The likelihood of me directing was very slim, I think nonexistent, and I have a feeling that Warner Brothers brought me out to Hollywood just to show them that they were doing their due diligence and giving everybody a fair chance. And it was a very interesting experience because I know that when I went into the meeting that the majority of people were against me and by the end of the meeting I'd actually won over quite a few people that were against me, and I was so angry with myself for getting excited about the project, knowing that I would never get it.

Barbara Bograve: For caring.

Terry Gilliam: I ended up driving around for hours later, just kicking myself. For a moment, I allowed myself to really fall into that world and begin to imagine it and think that yeah, I could do this. And that kind of feeling, when you're not ever going to get the job, when you know that, is very irritating, to say the least. And on it went. And so the film was made as it was, and it was a huge success, and they obviously made the right choice in director.

Barbara Bograve: What do you think of the film?

Terry Gilliam: Crap.

Barbara Bograve: Really?

Terry Gilliam: I think the film is very badly directed. I think it's uninspired, unfortunately, to be quite honest about it. I think the first Harry Potter just was very, very disappointing. It was pedestrian, there was no real magic in it, it was by the numbers, and Lord of the Rings is a wonderful film in comparison. That's what I think. The box office doesn't agree with me. I don't know.

Barbara Bograve: What do you think the distinction is though, in the way that they create these visions. Because I'm thinking that Lord of...they're two very different styles, and Lord of the Rings seems to have more of a dark and yet childlike imagination to it.

Terry Gilliam: I'm totally impressed with Peter Jackson. I think he actually believes that world, I think he's a very good director, let's begin with that, he's an excellent director. He threw himself so passionately into that world, he understands it, he understands magic, heroism, epic...the whole thing, I just feel that it's in his bones and so it spews out onto the screen and is totally believable. The film was, whatever, 3 hours long, that first one, and I sat there and I was just transported into this other world. I never felt that for one moment with Harry Potter, I thought it was sort of by-the-numbers, there was some technically brilliant stuff in it but there's no magic, no real real immersion into that world.

(interview continues)

==========

As a huge fan of Gilliam and LOTR, I'm thrilled to hear that Gilliam liked LOTR. I liked Potter, but feel the same way he does, that it has no magic. I don't feel it was crap, but wish that it had been better.
Favorite film of 2008 (so far): The Fall

Favorite films of 2007: There Will Be Blood, Across The Universe, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Black Snake Moan

My Happy Rhodes MySpace page

#2 of 53 Paul Case

Paul Case

    Supporting Actor

  • 532 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 05 2002

Posted February 04 2003 - 01:23 AM

Oh man, if only WB had let Terry Gilliam direct Harry Potter! We could have had another fantasy film series on par with LOTR, easily. Just another example of WB screwing a project right from the beginning...Posted Image

Thanks for posting that interview link, Vickie. It is excellent and enlightening.

#3 of 53 Craig S

Craig S

    Producer

  • 5,466 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 04 2000
  • Real Name:Craig Seanor
  • LocationLeague City, Texas

Posted February 04 2003 - 01:34 AM

While I wouldn't go so far as to call HP "crap", Gilliam has hit the nail on the head. I'm glad he had the guts to say it publicly.
Quote:
Just another example of WB screwing a project right from the beginning...

Amen. Just check out Moriarty's latest column at AICN for more examples (Ashton Kutcher as Superman anyone? Posted Image ).

I wonder if there are any film lovers left among the powers that be at Warner anymore. Thank God LotR ended up at New Line, where there are still executives with the balls to take a chance at greatness.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#4 of 53 Brian Kidd

Brian Kidd

    Screenwriter

  • 1,691 posts
  • Join Date: Nov 14 2000

Posted February 04 2003 - 01:47 AM

God, I love Gilliam. Shoots straight from the hip and tells you exactly what he thinks. Unfortunately, it makes him hard for the studios to hire. They like "Yes Men" who will deliver market-tested product. Gilliam makes FILMS!
---------------------------------------------
Support Film Preservation before it's too late!
---------------------------------------------

#5 of 53 Phil Florian

Phil Florian

    Screenwriter

  • 1,190 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 10 2001

Posted February 04 2003 - 01:57 AM

Terry nailed it. The death of "La Mancha" was a killer blow. That movie had me more excited about a flick than just about any in the last few years. I am almost afraid to see the doc because it will have glimpses of what could have been. Maybe there is hope (though not after THAT interview?) of Terry doing Potter IV or V? If they go on that long? Hell, I just want him to put SOMETHING up on the screen, dang it. Glad he was a fan of PJ, though. Always nice when one agrees with a director one admires.


(sigh)

Phil

#6 of 53 Steve Christou

Steve Christou

    Executive Producer

  • 14,225 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 25 2000
  • Real Name:Steve Christou
  • LocationLondon, England

Posted February 04 2003 - 04:07 AM

Thanks for that Vickie, I'm so happy to hear that a superb fantasist like Terry Gilliam is a big fan of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, nice!Posted Image

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


Lord of the Hubs


#7 of 53 Michael St. Clair

Michael St. Clair

    Producer

  • 6,009 posts
  • Join Date: May 03 1999

Posted February 04 2003 - 04:35 AM

I agree 100% with TG. Posted Image

#8 of 53 Jordan_E

Jordan_E

    Screenwriter

  • 2,233 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 03 2002

Posted February 04 2003 - 05:59 AM

Ever since I watched the superb documentary on the 12 Monkeys DVD, I've become a huge TG fan. The man has a singular vision and it's a tragedy that he simply can't find the right people to back him properly.
And you believe, at heart, everyone's a killer...

#9 of 53 David Rogers

David Rogers

    Supporting Actor

  • 723 posts
  • Join Date: May 15 2000

Posted February 04 2003 - 06:08 AM

Good post Vickie, good info.
-----

Dave's World
-No matter where you go, there you are-

#10 of 53 andrew markworthy

andrew markworthy

    Producer

  • 4,766 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 30 1999

Posted February 04 2003 - 06:20 AM

At the risk of sounding a dissenting voice, I think that TG's view is a little unfair. The movies are a bit pedestrian, but far from awful.

I've also got to say that my verdict of TG's work is not far from the view he expressed. There's an awful lot of us out there who think that Monty Python was almost ruined by his (in our humble opinion) ghastly cartoons and that films like Brazil and 12 Monkeys are a triumph of sick, unfeeling style over intellectual content. There, I've said it, I feel better.

Before anyone flames me, this is a personal opinion. I know that a lot of HTF folks whose opinions I greatly respect who love TG's work, but I think it's fair to say that he's a love or hate sort of director. I'd be loathe to see him stop making movies (vive la difference, and all that) but getting his hands on Potter would have alienated a lot of the movie-going public, IMHO.

I wasn't that impressed by the Potter movies, but I think the best job was made of appealing to a wide audience. A more 'auteur' like approach might have wowed the critics, but they would have been less successful. Imagine if someone like Tarkinovsky had directed Star Wars. Critics would probably have orgasmed over the result, but could you see the movie being a formative experience for a generation of kids?

#11 of 53 Joseph Young

Joseph Young

    Screenwriter

  • 1,355 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 2001

Posted February 04 2003 - 07:26 AM

Quote:
A more 'auteur' like approach might have wowed the critics, but they would have been less successful. Imagine if someone like Tarkinovsky had directed Star Wars. Critics would probably have orgasmed over the result, but could you see the movie being a formative experience for a generation of kids?

That's a somewhat 'all or nothing' interpretation of how the first Harry Potter could have turned out. Columbus and Takinovsky are two ends of a very broad directorial spectrum. Had it not been Columbus's very accessible and by-the-numbers approach (which i didn't mind btw), that doesn't automatically condemn it to the stolid 'auteur' hell you seem so quick to condemn.

It is possible to infuse a film with the kind of bone-deep passion that Jackson lent to LOTR (and many felt was missing from Harry Potter) without 'losing the audience,' much less an audience of children. Implying that Columbus's serviceable but dry effort was the only way to keep from 'losing the audience' is just plain supercilious. That JK Rowling was a proponent of Gilliam just reinforces that.

One of the most influential films for me as a child, and a film that stoked my imagination in a way that left an indellible mark, was Time Bandits. There is a kind of stream-of-consciousness imagination running through Gilliam's imagery and broad characterizations that appeal to the mind of a child, even if the motifs run a little on the dark side.

Quote:
films like Brazil and 12 Monkeys are a triumph of sick, unfeeling style over intellectual content.

A worthy opinion, to be sure. But wow, 'sick and unfeeling?' Goodness...

Vickie, thanks for the info... really cool stuff.

~j

#12 of 53 TheLongshot

TheLongshot

    Producer

  • 4,119 posts
  • Join Date: May 12 2000

Posted February 04 2003 - 08:11 AM

Well, with big properties like this, studios tend to get conservative. They set out to not fail, rather than make a great film. Better to have a bland but steady director (Columbus) rather than a flamboyant, but unstable one (Gilliam). It is why we get a movie that is a slave to the books, rather than one that fits the world.

It isn't saying that I don't like the films, but they aren't great films. They are by the numbers, following the points one by one, but not really getting to the heart of it. I'm going to be interested to see what Alfonso Cuaron does with the third book. He seems to be an upgrade at least.

As for Gilliam, it is sad to say, but I don't think he'll ever work on a movie with a budget again. That's a sad thing to say about one of the best filmmakers in the last 20 years.

Jason

#13 of 53 andrew markworthy

andrew markworthy

    Producer

  • 4,766 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 30 1999

Posted February 04 2003 - 09:34 AM

Joseph, I did say it was a personal opinion! However, a lot of folks I've talked to have the same feeling about TG's work - that ultimately there is no feeling in his work that being decent, honest, and kind has any point. Of course there are times in real life when that happens, but it is not a universal truth. However, in TG's world, it appears that it is. Maybe the TG-bashers just can't get on his wavelength. I'm sure he's a decent human being - and indeed when I've heard him interviewed I've found him likeable. It's just his films are a personal turn-off. Just to reiterate - it's only what some folks personally take from his movies. I'm not saying it's the only viewpoint.

#14 of 53 Alex Spindler

Alex Spindler

    Producer

  • 3,973 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 23 2000

Posted February 04 2003 - 10:59 AM

Great article Vicki. Posted Image

I have to say that Andrew's response was the best stating of an anti-Gilliam position I've ever read. I could never get my brain around how someone couldn't appreciate the worlds that he had created, but I'm starting to see how. I don't agree, but the door has finally been open to the world where he doesn't "work".

I was rather hoping that the success of films like The Lord of the Rings would open doorways for directors just like Gilliam, who bring passion, style, and creativity to the films they make. I would have been so excited to see what might have come out of pairing him with Harry Potter. I could see many situations where he might have lost the audience, but the chance for true greatness was there. I think it is that same reaction that prompted the hiring of Chris Columbus.

#15 of 53 Bryant Trew

Bryant Trew

    Second Unit

  • 346 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 03 2001

Posted February 04 2003 - 11:05 AM

Harry Potter was overrated crap. Everything about it is horribly shallow.
Matrix Reloaded isn't deep at all. It's a simple, rehashed concept dressed up in fancy words and designer outfits...

Real World: "I'm hungry as hell, so I'm going to run my ass down to Micky D's to get me a burger and fries."

Matrix 2: "I need sustenance, ergo, move I shall expeditiously...

#16 of 53 Steve Christou

Steve Christou

    Executive Producer

  • 14,225 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 25 2000
  • Real Name:Steve Christou
  • LocationLondon, England

Posted February 04 2003 - 11:06 AM

Quote:
films like Brazil and 12 Monkeys are a triumph of sick, unfeeling style over intellectual content.


Oh its you Andrew, [grins] yes ofcourse [picks up flame-thrower], nah I'm ok, just that 'Brazil' is... probably the greatest movie.. ever.. made, is all [looks for switch on flame-thrower], and...and... how the hell do you work this thing?Posted Image

Quote:
At the risk of sounding a dissenting voice


[still fiddling with flame-thrower] Yep I'm used to that by now...
[hums theme to Brazil while reading flame-thrower manual] Posted Image

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


Lord of the Hubs


#17 of 53 Joseph Young

Joseph Young

    Screenwriter

  • 1,355 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 30 2001

Posted February 04 2003 - 11:12 AM

Quote:
I did say it was a personal opinion!

Posted Image Andrew, I definitely understand where you are coming from and I agree with Alex that you articulated it really well. Actually, there are filmmakers (Todd Solondz comes to mind) who makes films wherein "being decent, honest, and kind has no point" IMO. The viewer are desperately looking for some kind of moral anchor but it's just crassness and sickness all around. But that's another subject (an interesting one). Posted Image

I can just imagine Solondz doing a Harry Potter movie... but this is a family forum so I can't share what some of the scenes would be like... Posted Image

I re-watched Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien again last night. Despite the fact that much of the film is somewhat cinema verite style, there are a couple of steadycam shots and images (the bullring scenes come to mind) that are very articulate and beautifully composed. Like Kurasawa, Cuaron has a way of unfolding images in a scene effortlessly, in smooth passing shots, which gradually tell a larger visual story. I have high hopes for HP3. Posted Image

Joseph

#18 of 53 Adam Lenhardt

Adam Lenhardt

    Executive Producer

  • 14,087 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 16 2001
  • LocationAlbany, NY

Posted February 04 2003 - 11:57 AM

Quote:
Harry Potter was overrated crap. Everything about it is horribly shallow.
Yeah, a kid losing his parents at one and growing up with out any material things of anything, being subjected to what would in this modern age be considered child abuse, and then still manage to be a pretty decent kid, all things considered. Real shallow.Posted Image

It's funny how these gross generalizations are so easy to pick apart, isn't it?


I loved Lord of the Rings. I loved Harry Potter, too. I think the WB could have done alot worse that Columbus...

#19 of 53 Scott Weinberg

Scott Weinberg

    Lead Actor

  • 7,482 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 03 2000

Posted February 04 2003 - 01:20 PM

Excellent article, Vick! Thanks for posting it. As a lifelong fan of Gilliam, it comes as absolutely no surprise that he disliked HP1.

Man oh MAN would he have been perfect for that directing gig, but it's clear why WB would never have hired him: he's an artist; they needed an employee.

#20 of 53 Steve_Knutzen

Steve_Knutzen

    Screenwriter

  • 1,317 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 17 2002

Posted February 04 2003 - 04:36 PM

Interesting interview. I love Gilliam's stuff, especially 12 Monkeys. Too bad that so much went wrong with the production.
I agree with his view on Harry Potter as I felt that it was just a series of exciting events and special effects thrown together and didn't flow very well.
"Oh I can hold my breath for a long, long time!"

http://www.dvdprofil....s=TromaFiend02


Back to Archived Threads 2001-2004



Forum Nav Content I Follow