Terry Gilliam should be ashamed of himself

Posted by · 6:51 pm · July 16th, 2008

Terry Gilliam and Heath LedgerTo say nothing of the fact that he has proven to be painfully irrelevant for over a decade, director Terry Gilliam has crossed the line with his recents comments chastizing Warner Bros. for what he feels is “tasteless” capitalization on the death of Heath Ledger.

From Yahoo! News (via WENN and The Movie Blog):

…the moviemaker fears that the producers of Ledger’s second to last picture, The Dark Knight, are shamelessly capitalising on rumours that the late star will be awarded a posthumous Oscar for his role as evil villain The Joker.

He says, “That’s what Warner Brothers are saying, but they’ll do anything to publicise their film. That’s just what they do and you can’t get upset because it’s bulls**t.

“They’re like a great white shark which devours whatever it can.”

“Bullshit” doesn’t begin to say it, Mr. Gilliam.  Any time I hear someone go on about how the studio has disrespectfully gone out of its way to plaster Ledger’s image on the promotional materials for “The Dark Knight,” I immediately controlled the urge to wrap my fingers around a roll of quarters and smash a number of teeth entering the double digits out of their skull.

What would you have them do?  The Joker was always going to be a focal point of marketing.  This is the “it” role of the film.  It is the character any marketing whiz would be a fool to ignore or even modestly exploit in the build-up to a release such as this.  And because poor Terry Gilliam has so many years of trouble with studios digging into his side, he goes and joins the chorus of ignorance with comments such as this.

Give me a fucking break.

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 7-16-2008 at 8:04 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    Bravo Kris,

    Strange thing about Gilliam’s remarks is his implicit insinuation that Warners is somehow managing these rumors. No doubt studios wish they better control over internet buzz, but they haven’t perfected their microchip implants just yet.

    Scott Foundas says it beautifully today:

    “By now, of course, you know that the Joker is played by Heath Ledger in the last role he completed before his death, this past January, at the age of 28. And it is perhaps the best compliment one can pay to this gifted young actor to say that his performance here would have cemented his legend even if he’d lived to see the film’s release.”


    Pass me that roll of quarters, and I’ll see if I can pick up those spares in the next rack.

    Meanwhile, can’t fucking wait to see how Lionsgate manages not to mention Ledger when Gilliam’s ‘Doctor Parnassus’ is released. (Though of course we won’t get to see the film Gilliam has in his head until Criterion reconstructs it from the debris.)

  • 2 7-16-2008 at 10:40 pm

    Proman said...

    For fairness’ sake I feel it’s important to include this paragraph (taken from the Telegraph via Phil Stubbs website):

    “Gilliam, 67, is at pains to point out that his observations about Hollywood overkill in no way reflect his opinion of the late actor himself. In fact, he intends dedicating his film to Ledger when it is finally completed.”

    I can confirm that. Terry really admires Heath immensely as an actor and in his own very awkward way he feels like he’s protecting his legacy.

    Also, there’s only one part of this article that actually quotes Gilliam directly. The write-up might make this sound more extrme than Gilliam intended.

    Then again, it’s Terry Gilliam! Of course he’s bitter and occasionaly says stupid things. I’ve been angered and offended by countless things he said over the years (and this coming from a fan who went out of his way to see “Lost in La Mancha” on opening day). He’s not a loser though and more often then not though he is simply misunderstood. Gilliam has a very specific and not entirely unwarranted view of the industry. He’s not just some hater and he’s not being disrespectful to Ledger and to see him this way is to disregard what he was actually trying to say. He’s got a very particular opinion on things and sometimes he’s very right but in this particular case he’s wrong.

    Still, spare us the righteous anger, Kris. Smashing teeth out of the skull with quarters? Taking it a bit personal, much? I’m honestly afraid you are not even being protective of Ledger so much than of the movie itself. And that’s just fine but the sheer anger is jarring. At least coming from Rollerboy I have no suspicions of personal bias.

    And “proven to be painfully irrelevant for over a decade” was just below the belt (and not even true – unless you seriously loathe ‘F&L in LV’ and “Tideland”).

    And before this gets out of hand, I want to re-instate that I agree that what Gilliam said was stupid.

  • 3 7-16-2008 at 10:58 pm

    Bryan Anthony said...

    Gilliam seems to be incredibly bitter, as Proman stated, or woefully misinformed.

    However, I don’t want to address him directly, because his sentiments reflects a broader movement in the film community rather than just one man’s opinion.

    With regards to marketing the film: the two month hiatus the studio chose to take following Ledger’s tragic death speaks to the fact that they were genuinely torn about what direction they were going to move forward in. Having said that, they absolutely made the right decision. To fail to highlight what is, perhaps, the best performance of the year is absurd. To fail to highlight what is, perhaps, the selling point of the film, one of the most beloved villains in American mythos, is downright stupid.

    Heath Ledger’s masterwork performance deserves the broadest audience possible. I find it hard to believe that a true artist would accept the studio’s decision to fail to reach as wide an audience as it could. And, fortunately for all of us, his performance genuinely deserves an enormous public reception.

    Anyone who belittles what is a mesmerizing performance with dismissive terminology like ‘internet’, ‘studio’ or ‘fanboy-induced’ hype likely went in with that notion. The performance does not require any sympathy or a push. Ledger’s turn is stunning and groundbreaking.

    Dismissing the performance is insulting. Period. Looking at the critical reaction, I fail to see where the ‘studio-induced’ portion of the hype is coming from anyway.

    In fact, having seen the film twice, I can say, without stretching into the realms of hyperbole or sympathy, that Heath is the first to create a villain that can actually rival Hannibal Lecter. His imprint is all-over the film, even when his character is not on-screen. It’s absolutely earth-shattering and awe-inspiring work. To see someone so familiar to all of us lose himself so entirely in such a well-written role is truly stunning. His work deserves all of the accolades it has and will receive.

    Fortunately for all of us, the insinuation that Ledger’s performance is not truly Oscar-worthy, but a result of hype is ludicrous. Frankly, it’s a monumental performance.

    Heath Ledger gave us something genuinely special before he tragically left us. Come Friday, everyone will get to see what an acting giant the man truly was.

  • 4 7-16-2008 at 11:20 pm

    Ryan Adams said...

    “Heath is the first to create a villain that can actually rival Hannibal Lecter. His imprint is all-over the film, even when his character is not on-screen. It’s absolutely earth-shattering and awe-inspiring work.”

    chills, Bryan.

    I don’t know enough about Gilliam as a person to try to figure out what’s what with this story. Luckily, whatever is going on his head manifests itself in amazing films, and that’s all I care about. I doubt Hitchcock would’ve been much fun to party with either.

  • 5 7-16-2008 at 11:28 pm

    Liz said...

    I wouldn’t worry too much about what Gilliam has to say. He’s been completely insane for some time now, as his work indicates.

  • 6 7-17-2008 at 12:00 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “I’m honestly afraid you are not even being protective of Ledger so much than of the movie itself.”

    This is a bullshit statement not worthy of response. You’ve had it in for The Dark Knight from day one and now you want to twist a personal aside about ignorant comments into something along those lines. Not entirely unexpected, though.

    And I’m not protecting Ledger here so much as WB. The studio doesn’t deserve accusations such as this.

    And yes, anger is the word. Righteousness it is not. I reacted how I’ve felt every time I’ve heard someone make similarly stupid comments for the past month. But with that in mind, I’m sorry you failed to pick up the humor of hyperbole regarding the quarters comment.

    Fear and Loathing I love. So make that almost a decade. And Tideland sucks.

  • 7 7-17-2008 at 12:34 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Well Liz, he’s pretty much always been insane. No sane person would have made “Brazil.”

    We should be grateful for insanity sometimes.

    (Though on this occasion, of course, he is wholly out of line.)

  • 8 7-17-2008 at 12:54 am

    Proman said...

    I was just pointing out what I felt was an unusually vicious response to a man who once was my hero. Nothing more. Trust me on this one.

    My comment was about what you wrote and nowhere did I say anything negative about the movie or the studio releasing it.

    Fine if you still want to accuse me of a personal bias (I don’t have it nor did ever have it but I don’t think I’ll be able to change your mind), however, you certainly have one yourself. Be that with hypebole or without it.

    Let’s just drop this. No further comments until I see the movie for myself.

  • 9 7-17-2008 at 1:19 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    How exactly do I have a bias, Proman, in so much as it is clouding any sort of even-handed judgment? I haven’t seen the film yet, and so I certainly haven’t made any comments as to its value as a film.

    I have responded at length just once to a review with negative connotations (Anne Thompson’s, whose words simply read as petty to me). I even gave space to David Edelstein’s pan and indicated that his irritations had been bothering me as a potentially weak spot for the film.

    I’ve given the film plenty of coverage, sure, but that has everything to do with a personal love of the character. But don’t find yourself mistaken. I have no bias that would breed disillusionment. These were comments begging a smack down of some sort, and I would have done it had the situation been similar on a completely different film.

    But I’ll trust you that just because you dip into many a Dark Knight conversation with some sort of negativity doesn’t mean you have a bias against it if you’ll trust that just because this place has (embarassingly) looked like TheDarkKnightInContention.com for several weeks doesn’t mean I have a bias for it.

  • 10 7-17-2008 at 9:49 am

    Proman said...

    Alright, I’m down with this.

  • 11 7-17-2008 at 9:57 am

    Ryan Adams said...

    I’ve wallpapered AwardsDaily with TDK coverage too. One reason: what else is going on? Hellboy II? Mammafuckinmia?

    I’m a huge fan of anything Nolan has ever done though, and everybody at AD knows it. I don’t bother pretending I don’t have built-in preferences and biases.

    We’re not CNN. I’m not on the Supreme Court. I don’t really get where you’re coming from Proman. I’m not even sure what’s the issue.

    Also, I can adore Gilliam’s films (which I do) and still have mixed feelings about how he behaves with the media. If he were my roommate, his personality might bother me, and there’d be friction. But since he’s not, I can say what I want, with little fear that he’ll be personally affected. So why should it bother anybody else?

    Remind me what we’re talking about again. (ha)

  • 12 7-17-2008 at 11:05 am

    Noah said...

    I can’t wait to see how they avoid using Heath Ledger in the marketing for Gilliam’s “Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.” When they start calling that film “Heath Ledger’s last movie,” I hope Gilliam is just as upset. But something tells me he won’t be.

    And I’m with you, Ryan, in that we always have to separate the man from the filmmaker. I always use Spike Lee as an example as someone who is such an opportunist in the press, but such a humanist in his films.

  • 13 12-07-2008 at 9:32 am

    Brendon Connelly said...

    Gilliam isn’t referring to the posters and trailers and so on, you fools. He’s talking about the “Oscar for Heath” campaign and the slew of press releases (trust me, they came thick and fast over a few weeks) that referred to Dark Knight as Heath’s last film. Warners were – and this is a FACT – capitalising on Heath’s death to get column inches for the film.

    And Gilliam’s right. It was bullshit.

    And he CAN call Parnassus Ledger’s last film with impunity because, of course, it was.