There was a point, I think just in the last year or so, where my attitude toward Terry Gilliam changed. Not my opinion of his owrk, mind you, but of the artist himself. I used to buy completely into the “no studio gets my sensibilities which is why i work outside the system” line advanced by Gilliam himself but now think the reality is closer to “I’m an eccentric wacko who makes it up as he goes along and no studio is crazy enough to finance that.” That doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s not a great director and a true visionary – he’s definitely both. It just means that I think he gets himself into the trouble he’s always complaining about.
His latest film, which looks like a return to form, is Tideland. Jeff Bridges plays a father who takes his young daughter on a “vacation” which consists of him taking her to a house out in the middle of nowhere and then shooting up drugs. That means she needs to find her own forms of entertainment. This being a Gilliam film that involves fairies, talking doll heads and other trips into the little girl’s imagination. It’s basically an excuse for Gilliam to create the odd characters and unique environments he’s so well known for.
I like how the visual on this poster makes the intentions of the movie very clear. The girl’s world has, quite literally, been turned upside down. It’s quite unique, it seems to me, how much real estate has been given over to the darker colors on the poster, specifically the underground dirt at the top of the poster. It takes up more than half of the available space. Even if it didn’t have Gilliam’s name on it, you’d probably be able to tell it’s his work. By the way, the tagline is awesome. You have to see it to believe it.
Again, this is obviously a Gilliam flick. It’s very clear that this is a movie about the heights and depths of a young girl’s imagination. Jeff Bridges is only seen briefly, most notably bringing his disappointed daughter to their new home and then shooting up heroin as he announces it’s time for his vacation. Aside from that the main focus is on the characters that inhabite Jeliza-Rose’s mind, keep her company and take her on a series of adventures. I love the rich visual look that the film has that is able to turn the real world into something wonderfully surreal.
That line about the squirrels resurfaces as soon as you open up the site, which is once again fantastic. Once you enter the site proper you see that it’s laid out like a map of the home Jeliza-Rose and her father come to inhabit. There are no clear labels on anything so you kind of have to just click and explore. It’s worth it, though. There’s really no way to categorize or organize the site’s contents. Scattered and hidden behind maps and radios and staircases you’ll find a Synopsis, Cast and Crew bios, Screensavers, Wallpaper, Production Notes in PDF form, a Photo Gallery and more. There’s honestly not that much that’s unique or original about the content but when it’s packaged in such an innovative and interesting way it almost doesn’t matter. It does a very good job of pulling you into the experience and encouraging you to go back to a previous screen to see what else you might click to find something new. A great, fun departure from most standard websites of late.
Well, it’s certainly a Gilliam film, and the campaign sells it to the Gilliam faithful. Everything about the campaign is designed to bear the director’s signature, even if his name isn’t on it. The poster and trailer are wonderful and loopy but the website is really a piece of work. It actually makes the craziness of the rest of the campaign – and the movie in general – seem more grounded by giving you something you can dig into.