RPS Meets Monty Python: Reprise

Still can't quite believe this happened.

A few people have spotted that our video interview with Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam has fallen off the internet. They have asked for it back. Well, I’m very happy to help. Because, well, if you’d met Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, you’d want to bring that up in public every now and then. Have I mentioned that I met Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam? It was in the context of their promoting “their” Facebook game, about which they clearly cared not a jot, so I took the chance to ask them about things I hoped were important to them. Silliness, imagination, conflict, and education. You can see it once again below.

Goodness knows what’s happened to the game. It’s been in beta for almost a year now, with no signs of moving forward – in fact I just checked, and the beta isn’t even running any more. The game’s blog hasn’t been updated for over 11 months. Developer Zattikka’s own website now just bleakly declares, “Zattikka is changing. More news coming soon.” It’s reasonably safe to say something’s wrong there. But fortunately the interview was never about the game.

Instead it’s about how the world attempts to limit us, and the role of imagination in breaking free of that. How silliness is so important to being an adult, and how a lack of history education is dangerous for new generations. It’s safe to say there’s no other interview I’ve conducted where Heinrich Heine, Fanny And Alexander, and Lies My Teacher Told Me are mentioned.

We had some strange issues with the video. For some reason in the conversion from 80 billion terabytes original to an edited uploadable file, green flashes emerged. The wonderful Christo did an amazing job editing it for us so instead it simple pauses for a second or two. Also, the editing that rescued us when we discovered they’d not recorded my voice at all was by the amazing Jo Dolby.


  1. Echo Black says:

    Great watch. But the volume is very low. :/

  2. Juan Carlo says:

    Favorite Terry Gilliam movies everyone?

    I’m probably the odd one out in that I think the best film he ever made is, by far, “Tideland.” I’ll never understand why everyone hated that so much. It was a brilliant and beautiful punch to the gut. Followed by “Baron Von Munchausen” and then “Brazil.”

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      Adam Smith says:

      Brazil. Though I did appreciate Tideland.

    • John Walker says:

      Brazil. Which I was able to thank him for. Favourite ever film, let alone Gilliam.

      I found Tideland to be one of the most spitefully unpleasant and horrendous films I’ve ever seen.

    • cocoleche says:

      Time Bandits and Brazil. Have to admit I stopped watching Tideland after 20 mins. Sorry Jeff Bridges :(

    • emotionengine says:

      Twelve Monkeys, closely followed by Brazil.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Another thumbs down for Tideland. It was a beautiful film, but basically toxic.

    • Cyberpope says:

      time to boast!

      Terry Gilliam came to my university to screen tideland, absolutely loved it.
      Not everyone did though. After the screening there was a Q&A with him on stage. One gentlemen at the back threw his hand up and asked “Why do you make such sick films!” He handled that one beautifully. Just laughed and said “oh im too old to care about questions like that anymore”

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Toss up between Brazil and 12 Monkeys . I didn’t get on with Tidelands either.

    • BenMS says:

      Tideland is a legitimately powerful, and deliberate, gut punch to who ever watches it. It’s Mr. Gilliam’s way of telling us that imagination is not only a powerful force for escape and coping and freedom, but when abused it can be a trap, a spiral down into madness. I loved it, but respect its confronting nature. It is certainly not a movie for everyone.

      12 Monkeys is also awesome, and that *is* a movie that’s for everyone.

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      Hodge says:

      Brazil. Such a staggeringly beautiful film. For me, his other films are all really enjoyable but somehow disappointing. It’s like he set the bar so impossibly high that he has no chance of ever reaching it again. I still hope he does.

      I’ve owned Brazil on DVD twice. Both copies were loaned out and never came back. Says it all, really.

      I’ll also sneak in a mention for Lost In La Mancha which, while not strictly a Gilliam film, is one of my favourite documentaries ever.

    • ceson says:

      Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas or 12 Monkeys. Depends on my mood. :) I have yet to watch Brazil though…

    • adonf says:

      Munchausen just because of 18-yo Uma Thurman. Also, Brazil, just because of 46-yo Robert De Niro.

    • President Weasel says:

      I can’t recall a single game topic that has garnered comments from so many different RPS ‘pinkos’ in such a short time.

    • Drayk says:

      I love the Baron of Munchausen… watched it tons of times when i was a kid. But I think I like Brazil more today. 12 Monkey is great too.

    • Maldomel says:

      I love all of his movies. Too bad he is always underestimated by studios and they try to mess with his ideas though. He still made some great movies.

    • simonh says:

      “Creepy, exploitive, and self-indulgent”

      “Gilliam’s was the only one that dared to propose a risky and radical image, without any concessions, on a specific matter: madness as the only way of escaping in the face of a hostile environment”

      I don’t even know what Tideland is about, but with all this controversy I just have to see it! Marking it down for later viewing.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Twelve Monkeys.

      I love certain elements of Brazil, but the whole thing doesn’t quite gel for me.

    • Juan Carlo says:

      “It’s Mr. Gilliam’s way of telling us that imagination is not only a powerful force for escape and coping and freedom, but when abused it can be a trap, a spiral down into madness.” –Which is a pretty good summation, I think. And in that sense I think “Tideland” is a bit like Brazil in reverse. Unlike Brazil (where the film ends with Price finding bliss/escape in his own insanity–which is actually a pretty happy ending if you think about it), “Tideland” seems to be more about how such escapes aren’t possible. I’ve always hated the highly romantic and idealized view of “madness” that shows it to be a blissful and clean break with reality where one can escape into their own private world and never come out. It never works that way, and if it did, it wouldn’t really be a problem as who wouldn’t want to be mad then? What makes “madness” so awful isn’t so much that the individual has a fantasy world that doesn’t quite mesh with the external world, as much as it’s the fact that they can never really fully escape into this world–you can never go “wholly” mad, no matter how much you might want to (and yeah “madness” is kind of a vague and archaic term, so maybe a better phrase in reference to both these films would be “pathological imagination”–something like that). Reality will always reassert itself, and often with negative consequences both for the pathologic dreamer and others around them. Which is why “Brazil” is such a neat paralell to the film as Brazil ends with an escape into madness (which again is a pretty romantic and idealized take on such escapes), whereas “Tideland” ends with reality quite literally crashing into the girl’s fantasy world by way of train (and, given that she was responsible for the crash, It might be more accurate to say that the girl’s fantasy world came crashing into reality in a violent and, literally, lethal way).

      Which isn’t to say that Gilliam condemns such “pathological imaginations,” or shows them to be wholly negative or anything like that. He doesn’t at all, which I think is what disturbs people about the film. It’s a really ballsy film in just how amoral it is (and I mean “amoral” not “immoral). He sets up the girl’s world, her reaction to that world, and why her reaction might make sense, then he kind of just clinically watches how this reaction plays out while refusing to judge anything that’s happening on screen or give the audience some easy clue as to how we are expected to react to the events in the film morally. I think the film even gets entirely caught up in the girl’s worldview at times, which can lead to some pretty awful things being treated with seeming levity in the film (and some very dark humor), which, again, might be another reason why it puts people off. But I think its amorality is the only reason why it works. It’d be much less effective if it didn’t “get caught up” in the girl’s fantasy in a non-judgmental fashion, as if it didn’t I think it’d be much more difficult to show just how much the girl’s “mad” worldview makes sense (at least to her). And is also ultimately, I think, what saves the film from charges of “exploitation.”

    • DiamondDog says:

      Oh it depends on so many things. I think Brazil is his best film, but if you’re talking about personal favourite it’s either Time Bandits or Baron Munchausen.

      Time Bandits probably wins just for “Lasers, 8 o’clock. Day one!”

    • DrGonzo says:

      People say horrible things about Tideland, but I don’t know what was ‘toxic’ or terrible about it. Would you care to expand on it? I thought it was pretty weird, but I did enjoy it. Horrible things through the eyes of a child, quite interesting. I don’t understand why a film being unpleasant makes it bad. Thought it was actually being original and doing something I’ve never seen before in a film. His other films, while enjoyable, are just retellings of other stories, but wierder.

      Like most of his other films too, Brazil is a classic, as is Time Bandits. But Baron Munchausen was awful I thought.

    • SiHy_ says:

      Ooooh. I can’t decide between Fear & Loathing and Brazil. Time Bandits is pretty good too. As is 12 Monkeys. Oh damn it, watch them all if you haven’t already!
      EDIT: Oh yes, just reminded by a post below – also The Fisher King. Not the best but still pretty darn good.

    • Bobsy says:

      DEFINATELY the Adventures of Baron Munchausen. A Christmas treat every lovely year, along with Jason and the Argonauts.

    • Emeraude says:

      The Man Who Killed Don Quixote… Damn, Rochefort was incredible in it !

      What do you mean “it wasn’t released” ? What kind of fantasy world are you living in ?

  3. sinister agent says:

    Have you ever met Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam?

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      Hodge says:

      No! But I’m seeing John Cleese next April which is jolly gosh exciting.

  4. Gesadt says:

    awww no love for Fisher King

    • GetEveryone says:

      Seconded. Fisher King is such a fantastic film, and it doesn’t have the same mean streak that Brazil has. Not to mention that it’s far easier to actually feel some empathy for both leads.

      I have a bit of a soft-spot for 12 Monkeys, too (which is, hopefully, as close to a terrible sequel name as that film gets).

      There’s something almost unbearably other-worldly about Brazil, and though I’ve always enjoyed it, I’ve never found that it struck the same note with me that it did others.

    • Advanced Assault Hippo says:

      Aye, Fisher King doesn’t get talked about enough. It’s absolutely brilliant.

      Probably my 2nd favourite Gilliam movie behind Brazil, which as many have mentioned is undoubtedly one of the best films ever made.

    • Aufero says:

      It’s a great film. If it were by any other filmmaker I’d point to it as evidence of genius.

      Thing is, this is Terry Gilliam. There’s better evidence.

  5. Skeleton Key says:

    Thanks for reminding us of this great interview. The Eurogamer interview by Ellie Gibson was also very good now that I think about it. I wonder if there are any other videos by other publications from this little junket.

  6. Belsameth says:

    Comparing a facebook game to a boil… How very apt :p

  7. The Colonel says:

    Didn’t catch that first time round so thanks for putting it back up again. They don’t make men like these any more. I saw Brazil for the first time only a few weeks ago. What a tremendous film and definitely my favourite Gilliam (not seen Tideland yet)

  8. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Zettabytes. eighty of them.

  9. PJ says:

    RPS + Monty Python = autowin

    But seriously, one of the best features of RPS. Well done, chaps – particularly the clever approach to the interview.

  10. yeastcapp says:

    Ragnar Tournquist would like the bit at 6:42. How topical for The Secret World!

  11. Gundrea says:

    The struggle between reality and imagination provides conflict? Interesting…

  12. Klatu says:

    I found Pan’s Labyrinth deeply unsettling but still thought the film to be a minor masterpiece, how does Tideland compare?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Hard to describe. A series of horrific things happening through the eyes of a child who doesn’t understand why they are terrible things. It definitely stuck with me more than Pan’s Labyrinth. But they aren’t really comparable. Pan’s Labyrinth was a very traditional story but with a few moments of surprisingly extreme gore.

    • Klatu says:

      Thanks for the reply DrGonzo.

  13. Radiant says:

    Btw Jones has a 1 year old child?


  14. SiHy_ says:

    So good to see two grown men with a lot of wisdom still embracing the silliness of youth. These people should be role models for the young, not the shallow millionaire “celebrities” of modern day culture.

  15. Wulf says:

    I kind of agree with him in regards to fantasy, but I prefer the Grant Morrison approach, which I find terribly clever. If you look at his stuff, you can tell where he’s pretty much flew off and left reality behind, he does that a lot, it’s why I love him. But what Grant does is he takes his wildest fantasies, the most improbable realities, and then finds grounding in them. It’s working in the opposite direction, I do the same thing.

    Instead of taking reality, which anyone with an imagination tends to be sick of, these days, we create our own wild and highly improbable reality, we work from the opposite end. The results are similar, but if you work from the opposite end it does become a little more wild and strange, because there’s a difference between limited by your own rules and your own internal consistency, and being limited by the rules and laws of reality. If you start off too close to reality, you’re going to invite a lot of “No, no, that can’t happen…” but if you go off the deep end, then people are only going to pick you up on something if you break your internal consistency.

    So there’s nothing wrong with flying off if you can find your way back. And sometimes the simple act of flying off to see what your own imagination can give you is illuminating, and when you’ve already begun with your own reality, it invites you to just engage in these flights of fancy and to bring the most vividly strange parts back with you, because so long as they don’t contradict what you already have, you can continue to make your world brilliantly diverse, and you can get further and further away from the usual, typical, and overly troped forms of fantasy.

    So you can have a small yet high-culture tribe that surrounds a special sort of large, vine-like tree that sows its seeds in a very abstract way, wherein the fruit is akin to bubbles of water that one can step into. Said bubbles react to attitude, and create things based upon what soundwaves are passed through them, they’re used to create art, often through song but other methods, too. Colours and patterns swirl until finally things begin to take shape, everything else will fade out until you have an object which is uniquely you. The object is taken, and if it leaves its mark on the mind of the maker, if its creation and its appearance is memorable and favourable, then wherever that object is placed, a tree will eventually spring up nearby.

    And something like this can have just a passing mention in a world to give it flavour, to show that you’re not afraid to have flights of fancy.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a bit crazy. I like being a bit crazy.

    This is why it can be interesting to go in from the other way, and fetch the most peculiar, bizarre things back with you from the edges of your imagination. To ask yourself what you may find in a barely recognisable world, to wonder how differently things may work, to try and figure out the very nature of something you’ve only caught the barest of glimpses of.

    And if I’m not mistaken, Grant works the same way, he goes in from the opposite direction to create a bizarre reality, and to bring the most peculiar elements into that, and then from there he grounds that reality by bringing familiar elements into it, rather than starting with familiar elements and making it just a tiny bit more unusual, in small amounts. This is, perhaps, why Grant’s stories in the past have been so incredibly wild, and when it comes to imagination, he’d put most book authors to shame. When it comes to just raw imagination, he’s pretty much one of my paragons.

  16. Yosharian says:

    Man, Robert De Niro’s let himself go.

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    phuzz says:

    What a bloody great interview.
    John, if someone can persuade Charlie Brooker to make a series of GamesWipe then you should do some interviews on it.
    Also, can I just add some love for the RPS commentariat for being some of the most erudite commenters on a blog anywhere.

    damn, must be drunk, druung hugs all round.

  18. Hoschimensch says:

    I think I silly-walk home today.

  19. ColOfNature says:

    Terry Gilliam appears to be a Jedi.

    edit: oh, someone said that on YouTube.