December 21, 2009

PODCAST: Terry Gilliam


Beginning as a strip cartoonist and then animating member of the groundbreaking comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year), Terry Gilliam is most widely recognized today as the mischievous auteur behind such hallucinatory, darkly comic fantasies as Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and 12 Monkeys. His latest flight of surreal whimsy is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, credited with love as "A film from Heath Ledger and friends" since star Ledger unforeseeably died during its production:

Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his troupe make up an extraordinary traveling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to enter the world of their imagination. Blessed with the extraordinary gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr. Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. Long ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), in which he won immortality. Many centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr. Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on condition that when his first-born reached its 16th birthday he or she would become the property of Mr. Nick. Valentina (Lily Cole) is now rapidly approaching this milestone and Dr. Parnassus is desperate to protect her from her impending fate. Mr. Nick arrives to collect but, always keen to make a bet, renegotiates the wager. Enlisting a series of wild, comical and compelling characters in his journey, Dr. Parnassus promises his daughter's hand in marriage to the man that helps him win.

Sitting down with Gilliam in New York, I promised to talk sparingly about Ledger's death ("Good," Gilliam joked, "He's boring anyway.") so that we'd have more time to discuss the devilishly entertaining Tom Waits, why working with his producer was "child abuse," the lost projects he's most frustrated about, and all he really wants for Christmas.

To listen to the podcast, click here. (16:07)

Podcast Music
INTRO: Tom Waits, "Way Down in the Hole"
OUTRO: Cornelius, "Brazil"

[The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 25th, and nationwide on January 8th. For more info, please visit the official site.]

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Posted by ahillis at December 21, 2009 12:56 PM