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Terry Gilliam on Disconnecting

Inspirational figures get personal and share a passion with us in AnOther Thing I Wanted to Tell You

Terry Gilliam at the International Film Festival of Marrakech, 2013
Terry Gilliam at the International Film Festival of Marrakech, 2013 Photography by Jon Cardwell

The Hollywood maverick dismisses the clamour of Hollywood, celebrating instead the inspiration of solitude

“I don’t really watch TV and I don’t even watch movies that much. I think at a certain point I felt I’d seen too many movies that were like other movies. The films are technically brilliant, they’re extraordinary things, but where are the ideas? Where is the surprise? They’re copies of copies of copies. They’re entertaining but they’re not making me think so I’d rather get a book and read and get excited again. What books do is they get my imagination going, because I have to create the imagery. I don’t like to be an auteur, I like to be a “filteur”. Because when you make a film, ideas are coming from all angles. The Zero Theorem is about a reaction to the connected world, one where we only seem to exist as part of a connection.  We’re not something that stands alone but a neuron in a big system. Can you disconnect? Can solitude be more interesting? I don’t know how people know who they are unless they spend time alone and disconnect. Only then you begin to know who you are.”

"I don’t like to be an auteur, I like to be a 'filteur'” — Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam is a film industry maverick, the gatekeeper to a compelling and distinctive universe that is equal parts steam-punk, sci-fi hallucination and Monty Python. His fantastical worlds are sprung from his own fertile imaginings and the many books he reads (he always has three on the go) and are as far as possible from the tired ideas of Hollywood and the concerns of its number crunchers. Brazil, 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are some of his best-loved films (not to mention Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and his latest, The Zero Theorem, shown as part of the International Film Festival of Marrakech, presents a fully realised theme-park of a world that warns of the increasing absurdity to which our over-connected lives are leading us. That it stars Oscar-winners Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton shows just how much Hollywood wants to work with him, even as he prefers to stand outside of it. With typical energy, the 73-year-old is now embarking on a tour with the reunited Monty Python troupe (he launched his career making animations for the iconic show), and continues to work on his “white whale”, the famously beleaguered film adaptation of Don Quixote he has been trying to make for 15 years. “I’m not even sure if I want to make Don Quixote,” he says of his lingering obsession. “The point is, I just want to get rid of it. I’m going to remove this tumour and then it’s going to be done.”

Text by Laura Allsop


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