Terry Gilliam: A Modern Maniac

A personal tribute to the inventive mind and courageous work of Mr. Gilliam and the unforgettable films he has gifted the world of Cinema.

Terry Gilliam is a writer, director, and animator; known for his animated shorts for Monty Python projects. He’s probably more known for the dream like experience of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, now; but that is likely because they forget he’s responsible for 12 Monkeys. To me Mr. Gilliam will forever be the maniac who brought me years of joy and astonishment.
This year Terry is finally releasing a film he has been working on since Lost in La Mancha(2002), where Mr. Gilliam attempted to tell the story of Don Quixote in his Gilliam style. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2019), after years of legal battles on top of the other struggles of getting the thing shot and put together, is finally being released in North America! It has been released in other international markets, but for now the only theatrical release in The United States and Canada will be for one night only, April 10th, 2019.

Is Terry Gilliam Don Quixote? Or is He Sancho?

While I am very adamant that everyone should buy tickets for April 10th, Don Quixote is not why I am hear writing about Mr. Terry Gilliam. He is often revered as a cinematic wonder, inventive, yet, he is unrecognized in his home country. The American Python is virtually unknown among current movie goers, but they do love his stuff! There is a wonderful article featured on The Vulture by Bilge Ebiri filled with a strong and striking interview along with some insight on the success, or lack of, in Gilliam’s career. Terry Gilliam made the movies he wanted to made, and sometimes the executives made him pay for that tenacity.

Next we will look at the top and bottom grossing films Directed by Terry Gilliam then the average audience ratings of all of his full length films(based on Google likes, Rotten Tomatoes, and MetaCritic ratings).

Top 5 Grossing(USD)Bottom 5 Grossing(USD)
12 Monkeys(1995) 168.8 Million
The Brothers Grimm(2005) 105.3 Million
Doctor Parnassus(2009) 64.4 Million
Time Bandits(1981) 42.4 Million
The Fisher King(1991) 41.9 Million
Tideland(2005) $566,611
Zero Theorem(2013) 1.2 Million
The Holy Grail(1975) 5 Million
Baron Munchhausen(1988) 8.1 Million
Brazil(1985) 9.9 Million
Film of Gilliam in alpha with Average Audience Rating/100
12 Monkeys
Adventures of Baron Munchhausen
(The) Brothers Grimm
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas(1998)
(The) Fisher King
(Monty Python’s The) Holy Grail
Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Time Bandits
(The) Zero Theorem


The Writing Lady’s Top 5 Films of Gilliam

Adventures of Baron Munchhausen(1988)

Adventures of Baron Munchhausen was a childhood favorite, I took it with me when I moved to Oregon and found it to be a sense of home. Growing up no one around me could recognize the title or story; now it is said to be a crowd favorite! It ranks fourth according to audience averages. What I enjoy most about Munchhausen is the call to mythology and a mix with history(that may not be completely accurate but is close enough). It is sweet, funny, and a tad sexy if I might say. If you’re still not sure if you want to give this film of Gilliam a shot, Robin Williams is the lord of the Moon.

The Fisher King(1991)

I actually watched The Fisher King for the first time ever just a week ago; it was the only one I hadn’t attempted on my one before researching his work. It captivated me! It started a little slow but quickly proved to be worth the watch. I don’t want to say too much but I choose this gif specifically to grab your attention- the poster and summary put me off for years! It really made me think about my own behavior and attitudes to others in our society; how we ignore each other – then how we can love one another.


The entire movie is scored to the tune of a famously remade song Aquarela do BrasilGeoff Muldaur’s English and peppy version. If you have a problem with day dreams this may not be the one for you, but it certainly has shown itself to be a crowd favorite being the second highest audience ranked film of Gilliam. I could analyze Brazilto death but then why would you watch it? The dream sequences throughout the movie, and the madness within, allow the watcher to determine meaning or to simply piece the puzzle together. I found it a little difficult to determine just what was happening during some bits, it’s your own adventure in Brazil.

12 Monkeys(1995)

Another childhood favorite, I had taken great joy to realize in my early teens that it had been the same person who directed both Adventures of Baron Munchhausen and 12 Monkeys. I picked this one to list because I always forgot that Gilliam directed it, even though watching it now it’s pretty clear. It is a wild ride that makes you, and the lead character, question your own sanity. My advice would be to watch Brazil and 12 Monkeys on separate days.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas(1998)

I feel a little hacky picking this one, but what can I say, it is a helluva lot of fun to watch! Who wouldn’t want to walk into a casino bar full of Lizard People – Or take a sweet convertible from the car lot and take it straight to Las Vegas? This nonsense of a movie that is proven hard to follow is based on a book that can be loosely related to the life of its author. While I would accredit most of Gilliam’s work to presenting hard questions and realities, this is not one of them. It is thin in story, but rich in entertainment!

Charles McKeown

I’d like to make a special mention of Charles McKeown, who worked on multiple projects with Mr. Gilliam. Charles McKeown wrote Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Adventures of Baron Muchhausen,and Brazil with Terry Gilliam, and played a few spots in Life of Brian.

Before you go…

Terry Gilliam is a modern maniac- the embodiment of madness in a perfect bottle. His work explodes with imagination and offers sights that even he admits could only come from an Acid-induced brain(which he did not have). Terry Gilliam is so much more than “The American Python”, he is a director of genius and dreams. After finally finished production on his latest project, Mr. Gilliam published Gilliamesque: A Pre-posthumous Memior, which I highly recommend reading!

So please, Mr. Gilliam accept my letter of love and admiration!

A lot of Films of Gilliam are available with Amazon Prime! Readers, please, begin/continue your Gilliam Education!

I have included third party links to offer more information, some are Amazon links to products to continue your education on Mr. Gilliam

I may receive royalties for purchases made through the product links.

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