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Dreams and Nightmares: Terry Gilliam, 'The Brothers Grimm' and Other Cautionary Tales of Hollywood [Hardcover]

Bob McCabe , Terry Gilliam
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

7 Nov 2005

A behind-the-scenes chronicle of the creation of the Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Brothers Grimm’, charting all the highs and lows in the film’s journey from script to screen. Told by both Gilliam and McCabe, who provides an on-set diary, this unique account reveals exactly how a film is made – or ruined – in today’s Hollywood system.

THE BROTHERS GRIMM is Terry Gilliam's film for autumn 2005. After two years of pre-production hell, the film was finally greenlit in March 2003 by Miramax's Dimension Films with a budget bigger than anything Gilliam has ever had to work with – on condition that the film was fast-tracked for a 2004 release.

With stars Matt Damon and Heath Ledger playing the brothers Jake and Will, and co-starring Jonathan Pryce, hero from Gilliam's seminal BRAZIL, this movie is hailed as an "Indiana Jones and the Brothers Grimm"-style adventure, in which two Middle-Ages conmen who travel the countryside inventing horrendous ghost stories, only so they can claim to have defeated evil and be showered with gifts and women, finally encounter a real magical curse and are forced to find the courage to do a proper day's work of evil-vanquishing.

Drawing upon numerous crewmember's diaries and candid, outspoken interviews with Terry Gilliam and the stars as the basis for this book, author Bob McCabe follows Gilliam through the pre-production battle of wills between director and producers, the nightmares of filming without budget, equipment or even cast, and the anarchy and brinkmanship of post-production inevitable in a Gilliam film. He seeks to unravel the truth buried between the lines, and reveals exactly how a film is made – or ruined – in today's Hollywood system.

Guaranteed to fascinate film buffs and Terry Gilliam fans alike – already intrigued after the collapse of his Don Quixote movie formed the basis of a captivating documentary film – this amusing chronicle will be an unputdownable read and should put anyone who has aspired to direct a film in the future completely off the idea!

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Entertainment; First Edition edition (7 Nov 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007175566
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007175567
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 19.7 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 310,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A thoroughly entertaining scrapbook. The director's (Terry Gilliam's) misadventures make for great reading.' ****

About the Author

Bob McCabe, With Terry Gilliam

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreams & Nightmares 19 Oct 2009
A true insight into the nightmares of making a Hollywood feature. Every cliche imaginable becomes Gilliam's nightmare: constant studio interference, petulant actresses, controlling Director of Photography, sackings galore. When Gilliam makes a movie you just know the production will unfold like a long drawn out car crash and it makes for exciting compelling reading. Gilliam is the General Patton of the movie industry and if you have any aspirations whatsoever to be a movie maker, this book will pretty much put you off for life... But double your respect for the most visionary director since Stanley Kubrick.
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly unsympathetic look at my favorite director 2 Jan 2006
By B. A Varkentine - Published on Amazon.com
The surprising thing to me about this diary of the making of The Brothers Grimm is that my sympathies were not wholly with the nominal director, Terry Gilliam.

He is my favorite director and I have felt steadfastly in his corner during his fights over Brazil, Munchausen, and the aborted "Quixote".

But here, it is hard to see him as heroic. Time after time when reading this admirably fair book, I found myself thinking that for all that it was a chaotic production (and Gilliam's certainly not wholly responsible for that)...you know what?

He TOOK the JOB. He knew he didn't have a script he liked, and he also knew Miramax/Dimension's reputation. Matt Damon repeats here the story he told to Peter Biskind relating Harvey Weinstein to the scorpion in the tale of the scorpion and the frog, and he seems right.

Gilliam and others speak here of his feeling "raped" by the Weinsteins in the pre-production nightmare, but he is a victim who welcomed a known rapist to his bed.

Two voices I wish could have been represented in this diary are original screenwriter Ehren Kruger and female lead Lena Headey.

Kruger's voice might have served as a reminder that however much of a mad dreamer Terry Gilliam may be (and he is that, gloriously so, and god bless him for it)...this was not his dream.

This was not Brazil, which sprang from the well of his head, and which he made exactly as the script Universal bought...and which they then tried to take away from him. Nor was it Fisher King, which had a script so great he didn't need to "fix" it, only interpret.

Gilliam made the mistake I am convinced is responsible for more mediocre films (which Brothers Grimm definitely is)than any other element: He accepted a script he didn't like in the egotistical belief that he could "fix" it, just because he wanted to get back on the treadmill again. And he was wrong.

Headey was forced upon Gilliam by Weinstein, and evidently had and/or gave something of a hellish time on the production. Periodically we hear of dinner conversations she had with Gilliam that helped her performance (which IMO turned out to be one of the strongest things in the film). I would love to have seen what they said to each other, and her thoughts on the excruciating way (for all concerned) she entered the movie.

It seems Gilliam got a strange case of "buyer's remorse" after taking the job and went, by his own admission, into a kind of catatonia. Believe me, I understand how it can feel for a creator to have his "baby" taken away from him...but there were other people involved who needed Gilliam to engage them.

Damon and virtually everybody else involved with the film tells McCabe their biggest if not their sole reason for wanting to work on the movie was this: The chance to make "A Terry Gilliam film." It seems the only person who didn't want to do that is Terry Gilliam.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A missed opportunity 22 July 2009
By Huy Q. Vu - Published on Amazon.com
In the introduction, the author stated that "this is not your typical 'making-of' book"; the problem was that it should have been.

With the exception of the intro and a wrap-up chapter at the end, the book is composed almost entirely of excerpts from interviews and diary entries from several of the main casts and crew members. The problem is that without an editorial hand to summarize and give us a big picture, it all ends up feeling disjointed, with jarring shifts in writing style every few paragraphs or so as the point of view changes. It's easy to lose track of who's narrating and the initials and short-hands used in the diary entries quickly become jumbled together. It feels like there's about half a dozen authors (which in a sense is true) instead of just one.

The sad thing is there actually is a good story to be told here, as some of the excesses and stunt pulled by the producers are pretty self-indulgent, but it's hard to really get into it since the narrative is so patchy. It's like someone who gives you all the ingredients necessary for a great meal, but won't cook it for you. The author certain had access to some great materials, but it almost felt lazy that he would just cut and paste the information together instead of presenting it in an interesting way. Compared with similar works such as "Losing the Light" and "Final Cut" this book simply falls short. The illustrations within are very nice and the narrative style is different, but it feels like too much style over substance and that's a shame.
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