The Monty Python member and controversial filmmaker pens his "Gilliamesque" autobiography.
The only American-born member of Monty Python's Flying Circus, Gilliam tells his tale—a "high-speed car chase…with lots of skids and crashes, many of the best moments whizzing by in a blur”—in a breezy, comical style full of digressions that are mostly interesting but occasionally uneven and distracting. The book is lavishly packed with entertaining stories and visual asides, photos, drawings, and illustrations, most accompanied by the author’s pithy commentary and reflections. Fans may be surprised to learn the Minnesotan was a Boy Scout and an exceptionally normal student. At Occidental College, he was a pole-vaulter, cheerleader, and class valedictorian. He did a stint in the National Guard and honed his exemplary drawing skills in New York City working at Help! Similar to Mad—Willy Elder's cartoons were "maybe the biggest single influence on how I'd make movies"—it provided Gilliam important illustrating experience and friendships with George Crumb and John Cleese. The author then moved to London and secured a position at the TV show We Have Ways of Making You Laugh, where he worked with Eric Idle and perfected his collage technique of combining found pictures with his own illustrations. Soon, the "foreigner" with fresh cartoons was asked to join the nascent Circus, which premiered on BBC in 1969. It wasn't long before fellow member Terry Jones and Gilliam were directing Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Then came Gilliam's Jabberwocky, and he was off on his own. Thanks to George Harrison's money, The Life of Brian was made, as was Gilliam's reputation as a director. Brazil—"my Citizen Kane"—followed, as did Baron Munchausen—"my Magnificent Ambersons." Unfortunately, the author only discusses the rest of his films, right up to his last, The Zero Theorem, in the final 50 pages.
Fans will certainly want more, but for now, this will do.