Few directors working today have such a unique and distinct aesthetic style as Terry Gilliam. With his use of wide angle lenses - cameras tilted to distort the perspective towards abstraction - and detail-ridden production design in which each frame is filled with organized clutter, his movies have visual language all of their own. Equally, few filmmakers have so divided audiences and critics alike - revered and reviled in equal measure, responses to Gilliam's movies can almost be used as a litmus test for a person's taste in cinema as a whole. Terry Gilliam began his career in America working in advertising before moving to the UK and taking up animation, initially on the children's cartoon Do Not Adjust Your Set and then, where he first achieved fame, with the Monty Python team on the television series Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was here that his distinct animation style truly emerged, with his own surreal, outlandish artwork blended with photographs and other media in collages which became synonymous with the Python oeuvre. As the Python team began to drift apart in the late 1970s, Gilliam moved into film making, building on his experience with Monty Python and at the same time forging a new path as a visionary director with his own recognizable style. Moving between low budget personal projects and expensive Hollywood blockbusters, Gilliam's movies explore recurring themes in an inimitable manner - from the function of the imagination and the dark recesses of the disturbed mind to the absurdities of bureaucratic institutions and oppressive totalitarian societies, Gilliam satirizes, lambasts and exaggerates both the world within the mind (in its multifarious manifestations) and the world of "reality", frequently juxtaposing and blurring the line between the two. The themes and motifs are as distinctly Gilliam-esque as the imagery on screen. It is hardly surprising that, over the course of his long career, an iconoclast and maverick like Gilliam has run up against a host of production problems in his efforts to bring such unique movies to the screen. Inevitably with such a contrast between personal vision and commercial imperatives, some of these films appear compromised while others are wild, exuberant successes. The following list - inevitably and necessarily subjective, which readers are encouraged to challenge and discuss - attempts to chart his illustrious career, from the noble failures to the cinematic masterpieces.
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