Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 01/18/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Gilliam's first solo feature was very much a transitional effort; While trying to stretch his wings as a film director, Gilliam also falls back on a number of Pythonish devices throughout the film. In many respects, Jabberwocky is a reaction to the first Python film co-directed by Gilliam and Terry Jones (who is killed in the first scene of this movie interestingly enough): Gilliam hasn't fully integrated his cynical and dark observations with the slapstick inspired humor of the Monty Python brood. Nevertheless, Jabberwocky is a fun film particularly with Gilliam and Michael Palin providing audio commentary throughout the film. The film was shot for less than a million dollars on sets for other films (Olivier Twist for one). Gilliam used many of Bosch's paintings as inspiration throughout the film and his take on Lewis Carroll's classic poem is unique and, at times, devestatingly funny.The extras are quite nice on this DVD edition. The comparison between Gilliam's sketchbook and the final film is particularly interesting. Although there isn't a documentary looking back on this pivotal film, Gilliam and Palin manage to provide a funny and interesting look back on their commentary track.Make no mistake, this isn't a Monty Pyton film. It does share much of the same humor and irreverent look at human nature that appears throughout the Python canon. Gilliam continues to be one our most talented and iconoclastic film makers. His skewed vision on humanity manages to both celebrate and satirize human nature at the same time. Jabberwocky represents an artist finding his voice and, although a bit inconsistent, is well worth purchasing."
A brilliant and often-overlooked dark comedy
Kevin Turvey | Memphis TN USA | 04/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Jabberwocky is a terrific film in every way: funny, smart, visually involving, and wonderfully acted and directed. It's also gruesome, effortlessly combining subtle social commentary with farce. This first film of Terry Gilliam is often mistaken for a Monty Python film because Michael Palin stars (and possibly also because of the surface similarity to Monty Python and the Holy Grail), but the humor comes from entirely different and more complex sources than anything Python.
The movie is unrelentingly ugly and often horrifying, full of blood and filth that make you laugh and groan at the same time. This reversal of the whole knight-in-shining-armor myth accounts for a lot of the negative reactions people have to the film, as they expect another medieval fairy tale. I, on the other hand, find Gilliam's treatment of the theme deliciously and viciously funny. In reality, jousting is a nasty blood sport, not something fun like you see at a modern-day Renaissance Fair. A castle is a cold, damp, nasty place to live. People who don't bathe often tend to be dirty and unwell. These graphic realities, made VERY graphic in the film but set against the traditional story of an earnest young man on a quest, give the whole film a rare and wonderful depth of humor. Palin's performance as the amiably squirmy (and totally clueless) Dennis is particularly superb.
The film is also a wonderful exploration of self-delusion. Dennis never realizes how disliked he is, particularly by his beloved Grizelda Fishfinger (whose discarded, half-eaten potato he cherishes as a love token). The Fishfinger family reject Dennis to tempt a knight into marrying Grizelda, despite her total lack of physical or social charms. The king and his court ignore the plaster crumbling down around their heads as they meet on official business. The princess sighs dreamily at the thought of being married to a heroic knight at the same moment that she's doused with blood and gore from the joust. A beggar is cheerful at his prospects because he just had the "marvelous idea" of cutting off one of his feet to increase revenue. (Note:Gilliam based this beggar character on an image in a Hieronymous Bosch painting.)
And the Jabberwocky itself - a symbol, a figment, a real monster? It's clearly not anything from Wonderland. It's all the better that Dennis, having (accidentally) slain the Jabberwocky and won riches and the princess, still can't get anything he wants, or even speak and be heard. This definitely isn't Camelot!
With the recent release of Gilliam's atrocious "Brothers Grimm", now is the perfect time for disappointed fans to check this film out again. It shows Gilliam developing his distinctive style that would later peak in such films as "Brazil" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas". This is definitely a rich, intelligent film worth owning on dvd to see multiple times.
(Trivia: Look for the always-delightful Neil Innes in this film. Innes is best known for his involvement with Monty Python and for his lead in The Rutles, and also has a long musical history with such bands as The Bonzo Dog Band and GRIMMS.)"
A very bizzare but incredibly fun waste of a friday night
Kevin Turvey | 10/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My favorite Director, Terry Gilliam, and one of my favorite actors, Michael Palin, as well as a short appearance by my favorite of the python team, Terry Jones. By the way, both Palin and Gilliam are also Python veterans, for those who didn't know. The film is based on the poem "The Jabberwock" by Lewis Carrol, the man who wrote the Alice stories. It follows the story of Dennis Cooper, a peasant who, after he is disowned by his late father, leaves for the city, leaving behind his "true love" the obiese Griselda Fishfinger, who doesn't care a fig for him. What follows is a very entertaining adventure with lots of humor, lots of bizzare moments, some delightfully disgusting moments, which, in my opinion, make the film all the more fun to watch, and a few moments where you just can't help but feel sad for poor Dennis. A warning to a few parents or younger people: This film was made before PG-13 ratings existed, and has some blood and two parts with some very brief nudity, so you may want to be careful. All in all, this is a very fun film to watch."
Excellent Terry Gilliam flick
Andrew Urquhart | West Japan | 12/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the uninitiated, T. Gilliam is the ex-Monty Python genius behind films such as '12 Monkeys', 'Brazil' etc. - though for me, this is probably his best film.
Featuring his trademark surreal humour in a grimy medieval setting, this chronicles the adventures of our hapless anti-hero Dennis (played by Michael Palin), trying to win the hand of the fair Griselda Fishfinger (not anything like as cute as her name might suggest). Similar in tone to 'Life of Brian' and 'Time Bandits', though even darker, if that helps explain things any.
Based on the 'Jabberwock' poem from Alice in Wonderland, this is suitable for all ages, especially for people with a slightly warped sense of humour."
Absolutely my favourite film!
A. J. Watson | Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK | 01/06/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on Lewis Carrol's 'The Jabberwock', Terry Gilliam unleashes the full force of his creative talents in this brilliant film.
We follow the adventures of Dennis Cooper, besotted with love for the gruesome Griselda Fishfinger, as he is disowned by his dying father and goes off to seek his fortune in the city. The city is however besieged by the eponymous monster, so the king (played to wonderful effect by Max Wall) arranges a tourney to select the best knight to kill the beast. Of course, Dennis is carried along and wins the day.
Doresn't sound much of a story, does it? - but the intricately detailed sets, the wonderful staged humour and brilliant direction make this a cut and a half above anything else in the genre. It knocks the Monty Python films into a cocked hat - and they are GOOD! Not for nothing did this film win the best comedy at Montreux. Particularly good performances from Max Wall, John leMesurier, Harry H Corbett and of course, Michael Palin, who just IS Dennis.
I don't understand how a great film like this has been allowed to fall out of circulation. I'd give it 10 stars if I could."