The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Terry Gilliam’s wonderful and scary The Fisher King is a movie about terror and chaos and lives falling apart; about media manipulation, casual slaughter and insanity; about video stores, sexual hang-ups, radio “shock jocks” and street people... In other words, it’s very much a film about now. But it’s also a film about “then,” not only the Arthurian legends of the Grail and the “Fisher King” that give the film its title, but our own immediate past: the America and New York that used to be, both peeking up from under the present’s shiny rubble. A mix of fantasy and social drama, The Fisher King is not the sort of movie we might have expected from the impish, baroque fabulist who gave us Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen or that wonderful “insurance pirates” section from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. In its main plot, appropriate for 1991, wealth and fame collapse into squalor as a guilt-ridden radio talk-show host ( Jeff Bridges’ Jack) -- demoralized by the mass murder incited by his own flippant commentary -- meets one of the murderer’s bereaved victims, a seemingly insane bum named Parry ( Robin Williams). Almost against his will, Jack slides with him into a better world -- one of knightly quests, friendship and true love. It’s a male-bonding story, but women figure into the quests, too: Mercedes Ruehl’s tough-savvy Anne and Amanda Plummer’s Lydia -- Parry’s Dulcinea. At first, the film appears to be a “simple” drama of redemption, with mythic underpinnings. Yet, on its way to no fewer than three happy endings -- all wildly improbable -- it moves into Gilliam’s Quixotic, quicksilver oeuvre. The Fisher King isn’t Gilliam’s script -- it’s an original by a young writer named Richard LaGravanese -- but it’s clear that these two were, or became, kindred spirits. LaGravanese’s characters might be dreaming up the fantasies of Gilliam’s other pictures, and one of them -- Robin Williams’ Parry -- actually retreats into his own Gilliam-land. It fits. If the man who dreamed up Brazil suddenly woke up and looked around, he’d see a world very much like the “reality” here -- the nightmares of modern Manhattan, where murder explodes out of nowhere and the affluent walk past the wretched with complete indifference. Framed by the obscene schism between wealth and poverty that widened during the 1980s, The Fisher King is about people who fall -- and how the fall humanizes some of them, opens their eyes. The Fisher King has a lot of the old Gilliam tongue-in-cheek splendor: Grand Central Station transformed into a ballroom whirling with waltzers (including two ecstatic Hassidic rabbis); Parry’s imaginary jousts; and the elaborate contortions of the “real-life” scenes, with their dense, deep, Wellesian perspectives.
DVD EDITION 1991 137 MINUTES COLOUR SURROUND 1.85:1 ASPECT RATIO Under exclusive license from Columbia TriStarHomeVideoTM,®&Copyright©2012 byColumbiaTriStarHomeVideo.AllRights Reserved.©2012TheCriterionCollection.All Rights Reserved. Cat.no.CC1288L.ISBN1-559401-91-5.Dolby and the double-D symbol are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. The unauthorizedreproductionofdistribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000. This DVD is copy protected. Warning:unauthorizedpublicperformance, broadcasting, or copying is a violation of applicable laws. Printed in the USA. First printing 2012
Before the triple bliss of the finale, Gilliam has shown us why we need dreams -- and why we need to wake up. And it’s that collision that makes The Fisher King remarkable. Joyous and horrific, sweet and raw, fabulous and earthy, it fits right into Gilliam’s brightly fantastic gallery -- with its tale of the wonder you can pluck from your terrors, the Grail that’s hidden in trash. And when it asks, wryly, “I like New York in June. . . . How about you?” -- you don’t have to share the sentiment to join in the celebration. -- MICHAEL WILMINGTON
SPECIAL FEATURES Audio commentary by director Terry Gilliam discussing the making of The Fisher King, and his work with its stars Six deleted scenes further defining key characters Original theatrical trailers Key scenes analysis with storyboards, screenplay excerpts, behind-the-scenes photos Costume tests of Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Ruehl, Jeff Bridges, and Robin Williams
But people who think that the director of Brazil and Munchausen is a man running away from reality (instead of someone who, like all great fantasists, weaves his dreams from it) will get a shock from one aspect of The Fisher King: the acting. Gilliam’s usual talent for brilliant comic excess shines through in many of the things Williams, Ruehl, and Plummer do here; they’re all edgy and superb. But how many times, in any movie, have we seen a portrait of a man on the edge -- fallible, desperate, opportunistic, nasty and kind by turns -- as rich and real as the one Jeff Bridges gives as Jack? This is the kind of acting you might expect in a movie directed by Kazan, Scorsese or Cassavetes. The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film. Visit us at criterion.com
ABOUT THE TRANSFER The Fisher King was shot on super 35 and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85 to 1. This exclusive transfer was approved by director Terry Gilliam, and was made from an intermediate positive. Laserdisc Preservation. Design and Layout - Pineapples101 - firstname.lastname@example.org