Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Terry Gilliam: Storytime

Storytime by Terry Gilliam (1968). (Video found at New York Magazine).

'Storytime' (1968) is the first animated short by Terry Gilliam.

The animation style, visual idea and type of humour was later developed into his perhaps most well-known animation work, that for Monty Python.

About his visual language:

"Gilliam's films have a distinctive look not only in mise-en-scene but even more so in photography, often recognizable from just a short clip; in order to create a surreal atmosphere of psychological unrest and a world out-of-balance, Gilliam makes frequent use of unusual camera angles, particularly low-angle shots, high-angle shots, and Dutch angles.

[The famous film critic] Roger Ebert has said 'his world is always hallucinatory in its richness of detail.'

Most of his movies are shot almost entirely with rectilinear ultra wide angle lenses of 28 mm focal length or less in order to achieve a distinctive signature style defined by extreme perspective distortion and extremely deep focus.

In fact, over the years, the 14mm lens has become informally known as 'The Gilliam' among film-makers due to the director's frequent use of it since at least Brazil."

On Gilliam's Imaginarium': Surreal And All-Too-Real (part of NPR's Fresh Air) Terry Gilliam said:

"The wide-angle lenses, I think I choose them because it makes me feel like I'm in the space of the film, I'm surrounded.

My prevalent vision is full of detail, and that's what I like about it. It's actually harder to do, it's harder to light. The other thing I like about wide-angle lenses is that I'm not forcing the audience to look at just the one thing that is important. It's there, but there's other things to occupy, and some people don't like that because I'm not pointing things out as precisely as I could if I was to use a long lense where I'd focus just on the one thing and everything else would be out of focus.
My films, I think, are better the second and third time, frankly, because you can now relax and go with the flow that may not have been as apparent as the first time you saw it and wallow in the details of the worlds we're creating. [...] I try to clutter [my visuals] up, they're worthy of many viewings."

-- continue reading about other aspects of Terry Gilliam's life and work here. Further here for example.

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