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Surrealist Themes In Terry Gilliam Films

990 words - 4 pages

Throughout many works by Terry Gilliam, there is a general feeling of confusion or disbelief. The audience usually feels lost, and it never realizes what is actually going on until the end of the film. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the audience experiences firsthand the hallucinations and troubles of a man high on any drug he can find. In The Holy Grail, The Life of Brian, and The Meaning of Life, the audience is exposed to gruesome or socially horrifying situations, but the characters react very nonchalantly, leaving the audience confused and concerned. In Twelve Monkeys, the entire plot is questionable, and the audience has trouble believing the story in the first place, let alone ...view middle of the document...

Soon his “wife” leaf finds him and “jumps” as well. Soon the entire tree is screaming, and all of the leaves “jump” off of the tree to signify the coming of winter. This sequence leaves the audience totally baffled. We have no idea what just happened or if our laughter is socially acceptable. Each of these three animation sequences leaves the audience in complete disbelief.
It is not only the animations in Monty Python’s movies that are surrealistic. Many people in Gilliam’s films do not react to situation in ways the audience thinks they should. In The Meaning of Life, when the sex-education professor has sex with his wife during class in order to teach the students how to have sex, the students are bored and uninterested, but the audience is completely mortified. How could a teacher do that? In reality, he would not. Another scene in The Meaning of Life shows two men forcibly taking an old man’s organs. When the old man’s wife comes into the room and sees the blood and hears the screaming, she is completely unaffected. She even offers tea to the two visitors. The same type of mortification is present in Gilliam’s non-Monty Python films as well. In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raul has a multitude of very dreamlike hallucinations. During one scene after he dropped acid, he thinks all of the hotel guests are giant lizards bent on his destruction. During the scene, we see the world through his eyes, but since we are not actually high along with him, our minds wonder what the sober hotel guests think of him. How could he behave in such a manner? In all of these scenarios, Gilliam throws the audience a curveball, using dreamlike (or nightmarish) situations to shock the audience.
The plot in Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing...

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