(Credits: Far Out / Alamy)
Despite having made some of the greatest and most curious movies of the late 20th century, British filmmaker Terry Gilliam remains one of cinema’s most underrated directors. Helming such movies as the comedy classic Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the 1985 Oscar-nominated sci-fi Brazil, Gilliam has been lucky enough to work with the likes of Robert De Niro, Adam Driver, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp and John Cleese.
Rising to popularity in the late 1960s, Gilliam found his first slice of success working with the Monty Python comedy troupe, where he also helped to devise an iconic animation style that would go on to inform countless other movies. This success carried through into the 1970s, where he worked with the team, which included Cleese, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle, on Jabberwocky and Time Bandits.
Yet, once the director broke away from Monty Python and went on to create movies solely off his own back, he flourished into one of the most exciting filmmakers of his generation. First came Brazil in 1985, a wild and stylish genre thriller, followed by 1990s favourites, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which remains beloved to this very day.
Rising to popularity alongside such other industry directors as Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott and Quentin Tarantino, Gilliam was not so fond of each and every peer that grew around him, having a particular dislike for Steven Spielberg in particular.
“Spielberg and the success of most films in Hollywood these days I think is down to the fact they’re comforting, they tie things up in nice little bows, give you answers, even if the answers are stupid, you go home, and you don’t have to worry about it,” Gilliam said of Spielberg, when comparing him to the mastery of Stanley Kubrick, firing a few indirect insults at the director.
Gilliam later elaborated on this claim in an interview on the Romanian TV show Garantat 100%, where the host asked the director to reframe his comments, imagining that he himself was the Jaws filmmaker.
“I’m just very jealous of you, your success, your talent, your skills, you’re brilliant. I just think your ideas are a bit simplistic, that’s all. I think you’re the best storyteller out there, I just think your stories are not completely grown up and honest,” Gilliam told the host of the show, revealing his true thoughts on the master craftsman.
Continuing, he added: “What Stanley Kubrick said—and it wasn’t my quote about Schindler’s List—Stanley Kubrick was the one that said the problem with Schindler’s List is that Steven made a film about success, [but] the holocaust is about failure…And that is so perfect, Kubrick said it better than anybody”.