Jabberwocky (1977)


Dir. Terry Gilliam
Premiered March 28, 1977

From David Lynch’s first movie to Terry Gilliam’s first movie! At least if you don’t count Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Which, for his sake, you should, if only to offset the disappointment that is Jabberwocky.

After being dispossessed by his dying father and perpetually ignored by his loathsome crush Griselda (Annette Blanchard), business-minded apprentice Dennis Cooper (Michael Palin) strikes out into the big city, trying to improve the economic conditions there, but stymied at every turn by oligarchical forces (what’s the over/under on Bernie Sanders having seen this film?). Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, or fortunately maybe, Dennis has arrived in town just as King Bruno the Questionable (Max Wall) is hosting a tournament, promising half his kingdom and his idealistic daughter (Deborah Fallender) to the knight who can stop the man-eating Jabberwock terrorizing the land.

Based on the Lewis Carroll poem of the same name, Jabberwocky borrows either too much or too little from Holy Grail, consisting almost entirely of an elaboration on the former’s famous line that the King is the only one who isn’t covered in shit. Jabberwocky was director Terry Gilliam’s first solo directorial effort, and for better or worse, it is recognizably, inescapably his own. Like most of his films ever after, it’s a sly satire drags consistently if ever so slightly. As a result, many of the jokes, while funny on an intellectual level, fail to land. I wish I had more to say, but there isn’t much else to the movie.

Signs This Was Made in 1977

How Did It Do?
As ever, information about Jabberwocky’s finances is hard to come by. The film received a middling-to-good 60% on RottenTomatoes, but what really matters is Gilliam himself, who went on to direct a sizable number of films, peaking in critical acclaim in the 1980s and 1990s with such movies as Brazil, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Making his movies has always been an uphill battle, even compared to the normal rigors of directing, but he’s kept on going, and should be an inspiration to us all.

Next Time: 3 Women


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