Tideland: Notes And Thoughts

[The Museum of the Moving Image]( tonight presented a preview of Terry Gilliam’s new film, [Tideland](, as well as a Q&A with Gilliam himself. As a long-standing Gilliam fan, this was something resembling a dream come true.

Some notes from the Q&A:

* He described taking on *The Brothers Grimm* as being “desperate for work”, although he said he wasn’t disappointed with the product so much as the process.
* *Tideland* was edited at the same time as *Brothers Grimm*.
* He came across Tideland in the pile of materials he is sent from people he doesn’t know. The author had only sent it to get a quote for the jacket, but Terry was immediately pulled in to the book and wanted to make the film. He did provide a jacket quote of “Fucking Marvelous!”.
* *Tideland* was a joy to make: the crew was great, the producer left him alone to shoot the movie however he wanted, and they filmed in Saskatchewan, which was basically as far away from “the world” as they could get.
* The only substantial difference between the book and the movie is that the movie is not shot in the first person. This adds some tension, and makes the movie a bit more “difficult” than the book. Part of the reason for this was because Gilliam wanted to avoid traditional narrative films. He complains that movies are too similar in rhythm anymore, like pop songs.
* He considers the movie a “litmus test of people”. He knows some people will love it, and some people will hate it – he really just wants to get people thinking. He has had “some wonderful almost-fistfights over the film”.
* Jeff Bridges has the major prop of the film sitting in his garden. I will not spoil what this is, but if you see the movie, you’ll be able to figure it out without too much difficulty.
* He had nothing but kind words about [Jodelle Ferland](; he claimed that the dynamic on set was reversed, so that he was the kid and she was the adult.
* The most surprising question of the night was when someone asked if he had any words for aspiring filmmakers who wanted to follow in footsteps. In extremely strong terms, he said that it was nearly impossible: that he was the last of a dying breed; that even he is having problems funding his movies or getting distribution deals; that the studios are in a panic; that independent studios are a sham and owned by the major studios. He was actually getting choked up while laying it out this bluntly.

As for the movie: in my eyes, it was glorious. It is certainly not for everyone, and requires a fairly open viewpoint on the world. This isn’t because anything in the movie is terribly controversial, but because it’s a true picture of how children deal with a strange world around them (instead of the way movies tend to paint them). With a lovely score, a strong cast (Jodelle is in practically every scene), and absolutely gorgeous cinematography, Tideland will certainly please Gilliam fans, and will probably baffle more than a few people along the way.

Tideland opens in New York on Friday, October 13th.