Review of 'Inside the Head of Terry Gilliam'


Terry Gilliam has always been someone I have admired. Originally it was for his work with the Pythons with his unforgettable animated clips between sketches but later it was through his quirky and intriguing films such as the iconic “Brazil”. In this show he was interviewed onstage by BBC arts editor Will Gompertz with two small clips of Gilliam's work in between talks. Ostensibly this show was part of the “London Literature Festival” as Gilliam has recently published his autobiographical book “Gilliamesque” (which was available for sale, signed in the lobby after the show; as vibrant and vivid a tome as you might imagine from this most imaginative of people). Gompertz started the show by guiding Gilliam through a bit of a montage of his life in reference to his book, with Gilliam often frustrating the process by going off on various tangents (though keeping the full audience enraptured nonetheless). Later, when discussing his film career he was often name dropping but never, it seems, for the sake of doing so but simply in passing “…and so [Robert] De Niro said to me…”

The audience very much appreciated Gilliam, expressing their support while asking questions in the later part of the show. When he was asked about whether he had any desire to work with anyone in particular or any regrets his answer was quite typical of his character: He concentrates on the moment and worries about what or who he needs right now rather than thinking back to the past or even too far in the future. He does not seem to even know what he will be “when he grows up”.

(Paraphrased) “In this age where we seek to classify everyone as being one thing or another, what do you see yourself being?” “Myself. I mean, in my passport application I say 'director' but I don't really see myself as being any particular 'thing'. I just do what I want to do and I have been very lucky in being able to do so.”

Gilliam did talk a bit about the struggles with the studios though often it was about his frustrations about either getting his work made or getting it distributed after it was made (particularly with “Brazil” in the US). I could sense that he was trying to express himself and communicate some important thoughts to the public but being thwarted by big studios.

In the 90 minute talk Gilliam briefly touched on his life with the Pythons saying that he was always in awe of the others as they were all so much more educated than he. He felt he was always seen as the “crazy animator” with “wacky ideas” in the corner yet they all looked to him in judgement of their material and, of course, Gilliam ended up directing many of the Python movies. The Pythons were always just seeking to entertain themselves first and foremost - When it went on television if others found it funny then so much the better.

Very interesting and often funny discussion with an amazing artist.

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2015-10-07

Royal Festival Hall

Location: London (England)

Address: Southbank Centre Belvedere Road London SE1 8XX

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Opened as part of the “Festival of Britain” in 1951, the SouthBank Centre is forever reinventing itself with cutting-edge, contemporary as well as classic entertainment and social commentary. Looking a bit dated the venue is always busy with a number of restaurants below the terrace by the river and beside it as well as regular food market behind the building on Belvedere Road. Great, though small, gift shop too. To me it is almost like a university campus at times…