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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Jabberwocky [DVD] [2003]
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on 5 November 2017
It’s a classic from Gilliam
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on 18 July 2017
excellent move, excellent price and service
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 June 2010
"It is the middle of the Dark Ages, darker than anyone ever expected..."

This was Gilliam's first movie as a director independent of the Python team, although it possesses many Python influences. Filmed at Chepstow and Pembroke castles, as well as in a Welsh quarry for the battle scenes against the monster, one cannot help but make immediate associations with `Monty Python and the Holy Grail', which Gilliam co-directed with Terry Jones two years before. We have the same medieval setting, the same bad teeth and bodily functions, the same mud and grime. (Gilliam says in the accompanying commentary that the film is so textured that you can smell it.) There are also the same witty names: Dennis Cooper, Griselda Fishfinger, King Bruno the Questionable (son of Olaf the Loud), the Blessed Sisters of Misery, and Saint Tallulah's Day. The main difference from `Grail', though is that this time there is a through-story to be told rather than a collection of sketches cobbled together to make a film. And there is also political and economic symbolism aplenty.

In the commentary, which he shares with the lead Michael Palin, Gilliam references Tarkovsky's `Andrei Rublev', Scott's `Alien', Boorman's `Excalibur', and even Lucas's `Star Wars' as influences or stylistic equivalents. He describes his film in terms of a cinematic Brueghel, and goes on to reference other artistic influences including Bosch and Caravaggio. He adds that he deliberately kept half the screen often in darkness so as to allow the imagination to flourish, at least for those with imaginations. (Really, of course, the reason is lack of finance for anything more fanciful: Gilliam always fills the screen if he has the resources to do so.)

Although Michael Palin plays the lead role in `Jabberwocky', and Terry Jones plays a brilliant walk-on part as a trapper of animals in the forest and one of the monster's grisly victims (dig the trapper's medieval equivalent of the baseball hat), these are the only fellow-Pythons; the rest of the cast comprise some of the greatest names of English comedy at the time: Max Wall, John le Mesurier, Harry H Corbett, Warren Mitchell. (In the commentary we learn that even Dudley Moore was due to play a role.) Minor parts are played by the likes of John Bird, Gordon Kaye, Graham Crowden, Rodney Bewes, Brian Glover, and Bernard Bresslaw.

Other very good extras on this disc include a selection of the different posters for the film, and sketch-to-screen comparisons.
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2003
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.
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on 26 September 2006
Don't write this off as failed Python. In the entertaining commentary on this disk, TG and Michael Palin not only state that they were trying to get away from the Python style with this film, but even that they think there are too many gags in it. I wouldn't go so far as that; Lewis Carroll's eerie source poem doesn't really have a great bearing on this story, but what they share is an ambiguous tone somewhere between epic, comic and surreal. All Gilliam's early films are about the relationship between real and fantasy worlds, and this is really no exception: Palin is the modern-minded mediocrity unwittingly (and unwillingly) caught up in a fairy tale.

Visually there's a certain similarity to `Holy Grail' (this is far more accomplished); in comedy terms, the closest thing is Palin's quirky, understated `Ripping Yarns' - but that doesn't have the same deep, ineluctable strangeness. In all honesty there's no other film like this. Just see the `you might also like' films trailed on the disc - `First Knight' and `Knight's Tale'! Good grief.

I'm also indebted to the commentary for the following fascinating trivia: TG's `diamond mine' character was originally to have been played by Dudley Moore; both the Black Knight and Palin's master are played by David Prowse (of Darth Vader fame), voices by Max Wall (King Bruno); and John Boorman apparently showed the film a dozen times to his crew before making Excalibur. How's that for a recommendation?
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on 18 May 2014
It was a discusion that sparked a return to this film to this for me, having seen it on its original release. Was it as good as I remembered.? Could I relate to the inane humour after nearly 40 years? Overall yes and yes. The Terry Gilliam / Monty Python-ish elements are stamped all over the film with loads of visual humour alongside plodding sections. A wealth of British character actors festoon and cavort thoughout the film, which although doesn't quite reach the height of Life of Brian, is still very watchable and enjoyable. Pass me the raw potato.
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on 17 September 2017
I quite liked it as a 20-something when new in the cinema. Now I am far older, I find it far too noisy and hell bent on making us find the Middle Ages revolting. The great cast is spent on one recurring joke, that the lead character is extremely naive but well meaning and everybody else is selfish and deceitful. Gilliam does Knights very well, as viewers of The Fisher King will know, but that is a far better movie. I suggest this is a Python sketch that tried to be far more. Has its moments.
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on 23 September 2017
Disappointingly poor. Seems to have been compiled from rejected Python jokes and ideas played out at tedious length while developing the Holy Grail depiction of the dirt and squalor of the dark ages ad nauseam. Michael Palin plays a hapless idiot so irritatingly naive and tedious I'd have applauded if the Jabberwocky had triumphed. Best avoided in my view; I wish I hadn't bothered with it.
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on 8 June 2013
I just watched this for the first time. I admire the Python movies, and am all in favour of what one reviewer calls "subtle" humour, but this was just not funny. Indeed, I would say that it was crude slapstick, with no script, and a quite extraordinary array of British comedy talent just impale themselves on a very dreary piece of shameless showcasing.
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on 3 July 2006
I have to stress that that this NOT - repeat NOT - an official Python film. I purchased this DVD out of nostalgia, it having come out at the cinema when I was very young, but to be honest I was disappointed.

Jabberwocky does share a lot of the dark, squalid realism that made 'Holy Grail' so unusual and interesting. Sadly, though, apart from a couple of interesting sequences; the blood soaked jousting tournament for example, the movie quickly loses pace after the spooky 'Jaws'-inspired opening sequence. Michael Palin (doing his usual 'unwitting hero' shtik) tries hard to carry the film but Jabberwocky feels poorly made and rushed; it certainly doesn't hold a candle to the illustrious standards usually associated with Terry Gilliam.
Even Gilliam himself admits in Director's Voiceover section that the film was done on a bit of shoestring, some of the filming equipment is clearly in shot in some sequences and Jabberwocky indeed looks unbelievably shoddy. The real shame is that the poor script wastes a great cast compiled from some of the finest British comic talent of the day. If you are a 'Python or Gilliam completist then by all means go ahead and buy Jabberwocky but I guarantee that it won't be spending much time in your DVD player.
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