OK, not so surprising, perhaps- it's a work of fantasy after all, but it is astonishing to find in such a little known and overlooked film one of the very finest fantasy movies ever made.
We often complain we can't give real rubbish zero stars (ET, Oz the Great and whatever, anything with Will Ferrel, Ben Stiller or Seth Rogen, most Jim Carrey movies and so on) or even negative stars. By the same token, the imagination in this movie could get it ten stars.
The rebellious child and sick mother story is a perfectly familiar form, as is the quest in a fantasy land, but the way this is done is just astonishing. The principal players are brilliant, and the dreamlike nature of the film is at a level which has rarely been approached. The Sphinx straight out of the still to be made "Monty Python and the Curse of the Pharaohs".
There is very little with which this can be compared. Perhaps the best analogy I could offer is that it's rather like a live action Ghibli animation- say in the "Spirited Away" mould. Maybe another comparison is "The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus".
Absolutely glorious. I hope I never tire of wonders like this; it restores your faith in film to find something this satisfying and imaginative.