Terry Gilliam is no stranger to blockbuster filmmaking, he’s a just a stranger to actually getting blockbusters made. Not only did the former Monty Python member spend years trying to get Watchmen to the big screen, but he was J.K. Rowling’s first choice to direct the first Harry Potter movie.
But before you’re mind is completely blown about what a Terry Gilliam Harry Potter movie would look like, the Python alum has some words about the Transformers franchise. So what could Gilliam have against explosions, CG robots and lingerie models all frappéd together in the same movie?
“You just sit there and watch the explosions,” Gilliam said. “I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about. The movie hammers the audience into submission. They are influenced by video games, but in video games at least you are immersed; in these movies you’re left out. In films, there’s so much overt fantasy now that I don’t watch a lot because everything is possible now. There’s no tension there. People can slide down the side of a building that’s falling and they don’t get ripped to shreds? The shots are amazing, but if there is no consequence, no gravity, what’s the point? I can’t watch Hollywood movies anymore. There’s no room for me.”
I think one would argue that there was never much room for Gilliam in Hollywood in the first place, but let’s not be too cruel. I wonder though, does Gilliam know that Python cohort Eric Idle was the voice of Wreck-Gar in the animated Transformers The Movie? Maybe it’s something they never talk about. But Gilliam continues explaining how his approach to fantasy is different.
“I never quite understand what the real world is,” he said. “I shoot reality and fantasy the same way because it’s all the same to me. I don’t know how to distinguish between the two, they flow into each other all the time. That’s the autobiographical part in my movies … in Hollywood, everyone takes characters and puts them into action sequences where they are threatened by outside forces, but to me the threat is your own perception of the world.”
As for Gilliam’s own movies, he’s back at work trying to bring The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to the screen. The project is famous for going nowhere fast, and for having more production hiccups than a summer’s worth of Hollywood blockbusters. At least Gilliam remains upbeat thought.
“I don’t have a choice, really, with these things. I become possessed by them. I blame Monty Python in a way, it was my pension scheme that allowed me to make the choices I’ve made, and there was an arrogance and confidence that came with being in Python. Look, the last proper job I had was [in the 1960s] at the Chevrolet assembly plant in Van Nuys. It was the night shift, and when I quit I said I would never work for money again. I believe in the things I make. The fact that God doesn’t want me to make them is beside the point.”
So there you have it: God loves, but man hates, Michael Bay’s Transformers. Isn’t that what he said?