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on July 18, 2017
Good movie.
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on August 9, 2017
Très bien
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on July 1, 2002
In my humble opinion, Terry Gilliam is a genius -- without question one of the most talented and imaginative direcors working in film today. All of his work -- BRAZIL, TIME BANDITS, 12 MONKEYS, &c -- stands up head and shoulders above almost everything else the motion picture industry spews out, but THE FISHER KING is, I believe, his greatest achievement.
All of the actors are superbly cast -- and each of them throws themselves completely into their assigned roles, to the point of BECOMING their character, which, unless I miss my guess, is what acting is about. Robin Williams couldn't be more perfect as Perry, the heartsick man with a shattered heart, who has lost his beloved wife in an act of senseless violence. Jeff Bridges, as the radio 'shock-jock' whose flippant comment to a disturbed listener triggered the shooting, is utterly convincing as the guilt-ridden Jack, locked into a downward spiral, despite the love and care vested on him by his girlfriend (Mercedes Reuhl). Then there's Amanda Plummer, portraying the hapless, mousy Lydia -- with whom, as soon as he sees her, Williams falls head over heels in love.
There are four characters here in a great deal of pain, each trying in their own way to deal with it -- with varying degrees of succcess. The way in which their paths cross, and merge, in this story, and the impact they have on each other's lives, makes for one of the most moving tales of love/pain/healing that has ever been brought to the screen. Gilliam's own unique vision guides it along nicely -- you can see his most obvious touch in the visions experience by Williams of the Red Knight, one of the most frightening apparitions you'll ever run across.
The film vividly shows the torturing, deep pain of utter loss, as well as our vital need to be loved -- and our need to perform acts of kindness, and to seek forgiveness for the wrongs that we have done. The love story between Williams and Plummer is one of the sweetest -- and most convincing -- ever in a film. It's enough to give us hope that, truly, anything is possible. Jack's road to redemption is a rocky one -- as is his own love story, which is bound up with that of Perry and Lydia. The lengths to which he ultimately will go in order to help his friend are stunning, inspiring, and, most importantly, believable.
THE FISHER KING is a modern masterpiece -- and one that will, I think, continue to move viewers for many, many years. It's story is a timeless one, skillfully brought to the screen by a modern master. If you want to show someone how good film can be, show them THE FISHER KING.
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on March 22, 2000
When I saw this film in the theatre in 1991 I thought it was brilliant. Jeff Bridges turned in an Oscar-winning performance and Robin Williams showed he had range, turning in an Oscar-winning performance himself. Interestingly, Mercedes Ruehl is the one who walked away with best supporting actress. It's hard to say exactly what this film is about, but Jeff Bridges plays a snotty radio d.j. who unintentionally sends one of his radio listeners on a shooting spree, killing innocent people at a bar. I won't say much more than this, except that it is a great story with great directing and acting. A must have for any film collector.
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on December 27, 2001
Terry Gilliam's post-Python oeuvre usually strikes me as rather cold and overly intellectualized. I 'like' his movies very much, but can rarely get close enough to 'love' them. "Brazil" and "Twelve Monkeys" being chief offenders in this complaint. I enjoyed their visions of futuristic dystopias, but never felt involved on an emotional level. Sure, "Baron Munchausen" tickled my whimsy-bone, and "Time Bandits" gave me kid-sized guffaws, but both those films also had a good dose of textbook thinking behind them, enough to keep the audience always an arm's length away.
"The Fisher King", like no other film in Gilliam's catalog, hits me on an emotional level. It is a visceral experience, unlike anything else I've seen from this offbeat director. Layered with tangible romance and pathos, Gilliam has created a film that will stand the test of time, even when its highbrow ideas become irrelevant.
Two scenes in particular illustrate the human beauty that this film is so adept at conveying. The first involves Parry (Robin Williams) and his daily routine: watching and following Lydia (Amanda Plummer), his from-afar crush, on her morning commute to work. Camped out in Grand Central Station, all we see are the throngs of people crowding and pushing their way to their trains. But when Parry sees Lydia, all that stops. Or rather, it changes. The music starts, tasteful glowing light emanates from the ceiling, and all the commuters take partners for a waltz. It's a ridiculously sublime moment, beautiful in all ways. It goes on until Parry suddenly loses Lydia in the crowd, and the dancing abruptly stops.
The other scene also involves Parry and Lydia, who are this time joined by Jack (Jeff Bridges) and Anne (Mercedes Ruehl). After scheming to get Lydia to come to dinner with them, Jack and Anne sit back to watch Parry try and woo her. His does so in the most childlike and endearing way: by imitating her clumsiness, her awkwardness, and her shyness. It's a mostly wordless scene, punctuated by the sight of dropped dumplings, Parry's stirring rendition of "Lydia the Tattooed Lady", and Jack and Anne themselves getting caught up in the romance.
But don't get me wrong. The whole movie isn't sweetness and light. There are actually some terribly horrific scenes, most of them psychological in nature.
Jack is a former radio shock-jock, whose off-handed remark drove a listener to spray a yuppie restaurant with bullets. He's now down on his luck, drunk, and of the belief that he's eternally doomed, his karma forever destroyed by that one moment. Bridges gets both sides of Jack's persona right. He's slimy and selfish when on top of the world. Dirty, dreary, and dead inside when stuck in the gutter (a side curiosity: I count eight times Bridges has played a character named Jack, and that doesn't even include the surname of his character in the "Last Picture Show" movies).
Parry, even more so than Jack, is tormented by psychological demons. He is connected to Jack in a horrific way, one that I am loath to divulge here. A former university professor, Parry has taken on the insane alter ego of a homeless knight. Williams shines in this role, his boundless energy and improvisational spirit giving some much needed light to what could have been a dark character. Not that the darkness doesn't shine through. Parry, stalked by a mysterious Red Knight riding an unholy steed, has a series of near breakdowns. Williams has to show both the unbalanced side of Parry, and the one that used to exist, functioning within society. He does well on both counts. (N.B., the movie takes on greater meaning when you realize that Parry is short of Parsifal, an important character in another story about the search for the Holy Grail; recommended reading)
Plummer and Ruehl do important work as the women driving the men to great deeds. Plummer, an unconventional beauty, makes you believe Lydia's shyness and sadness, while also understanding why Parry has become so smitten with her. Ruehl, dressed her in her tackiest Erin Brockovich clothes, doesn't get as much as she gives from Bridges' Jack. But she plays Anne as a strong but wounded woman, caught between a need to love and nurture Jack, and a desire to get away from his harmful nature.
This is Gilliam's second quest-for-the-Holy-Grail picture. Although off-centre at times, this might be his most cohesive movie, utilizing a fairly standard three-act structure to go along with it's quest theme. Don't worry, Gilliam fans, the director's trademark esoteric visuals survive intact. Manhattan is captured as a gorgeous, but dangerously labyrinthine, wonderland. The screenplay, by Richard LaGravenese, throws in literary and historical allusions, weaving themes and motifs effortlessly throughout. It saddens me that, except for the marvelous "The Ref", LaGravenese has wasted the considerable talent he shows here, turning out schlock after schlock during the years following this, his initial triumph.
"The Fisher King", billed as a modern Arthurian fable, lives up to that description. Crass commercial culture, shock radio, homelessness, and even a sly reference to the nascent AIDS epidemic form the backdrop for this remarkable story, which mixes the entire range of human emotions in a very satisfying and entertaining stew.
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on February 24, 2004
Somehow I managed to miss The Fisher King in its first run theatre edition. My wife and I went to see a different film several years ago and it was surprisingly playing as a double-feature, and to this day I was so struck by this film that I can't remember what the other film was we originally went to see. The Fisher King is a remarkable achievement and tremendously uplifting. It expresses one of the universe's great truths: a being is only as valuable as he can help others. The point where a person feels he cannot help or is a detriment to others is where he begins to die. Jeff Bridge's character can only redeem himself and his life when he proves to himself that he can actually help Robbin Williams' character. While it might be argued that the film is too pat or simplistic in dealing with the issues of insanity -- that's not the message of the film. It's not meant to be a documentary statement. It is an artistic statement and delivers a very important message for our modern culture, that the ability and willingness to help those around you is what makes self-respect possible. If you have an excessively cynical nature you will probably have little time for this film. At the same time, this is a film that would be the best thing for you to watch at least 3 or 4 times back to back until you get the message. I rate The Fisher King as one of my top 5 favorite films of all time and recommend it highly.
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on August 26, 2002
A breathtakingly beautiful film. The Fisher King is one of the most perfectly executed movies of all time, from the stunning and highly imaginative screenplay to the haunting quality of the direction and the sheer genius of Williams and Bridges, who both turned in the performance of a lifetime. Add to that a supporting cast made in heaven and you basically can't go wrong.
While the film succeeds brilliantly even as a basic story of star-crossed individuals working out their joint karma, it is the concept of the soul's journey homeward that drives the deeper levels of The Fisher King.
As Barbara G. Walker and others have pointed out, the Grail is actually a representation of the Womb of the Great Mother, from which we all came, and to which we shall all return. Like Finnegan and Bloom/Ulysses, The Fisher King's two heroes find salvation in the simplicity of surrender and in the almost Faustian embracing of the Sacred Feminine, as embodied by the two female leads. Carrie Moss's Trinity (The Triple Goddess) also provides this transcendent nurturing to Keanu Reeves's character in The Matrix.
If you were to buy The Fisher King, The Matrix, Groundhog Day and Jacob's Ladder, you would have in your possession some of the most profound philosophical insights in the history of the human race.
A true masterpiece. Dang, it even features a cameo by Tom Waits.
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on February 24, 2000
This is one of my favorite films. For the most part it is solid but does take some thought and knowledge about how people deal with trauma. Although it falters at times and has a few artistic distractions it does teach several good lessons. To understand the meaning of the title one must know the story of the Fisher King. There are many variations of the legend and one very simplistic version is sort of given in the film and will not be repeated here. The Legend of the Fisher King deals with a man who was injured as a young man (again many variations of how) and suffered from these wounds throughout his life. His only respite was to be taken fishing. He eventually became the penultimate master of the Grail Castle. Every evening the Grail, Platen and spear would be brought out and those suffering would be healed. That is, all except for the Fisher King. The Fisher King could not be healed until someone asked him a specific question. The Fisher King did not need to know the answer to the question. As the years passed, nobody ever asked the question until one day, on his second visit to the Grail Castle, Percival, asked the question, "Whom does the Grail serve?" The Fisher king realized that the Grail did not serve to make him great but that it served those in need. He was humbled and his wounds healed. (He died several days later and Percival became the last master of the Grail Castle.) The film deals with this dilemma in Jack. Jack can not be healed until he understands "whom the Grail serves." Jack tries to help Parry so that Jack will be healed so Jack can get on with Jack's life. It is only at the end of the film that Jack does the first unselfish thing that he has ever done in his life. Jack is the only character that grows emotionally. Of course, this act has nothing to do with Parry's condition improving. Parry is not crazy and Parry is not demented. Parry was a high functioning person until he witnesses his wife's head taking a shotgun blast. Parry regresses into a fugue state and takes on an alternate identity. He takes on a character that will, in metaphor, deal with what he witnessed. What Parry lost was intimacy and in his psychological struggle to cope with that loss he is both chased by and chases the last image of intimacy he recalls. Any emotional closeness, even with Jack, triggers these flashbacks although the image is distorted through the metaphor of his fugue state and becomes the red knight/ (representing his wife's violent death.) Parry does not become psychotic until Jack replaces Parry's fantasized intimacy with real intimacy and gets him "the date". The distortion is shattered; the metaphor no longer replaces the reality of Parry's last memory of his wife because the intimacy is psychologically too close to what Parry had lost. His Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) flashback is no longer the Red knight but the reliving of the actual trauma. Parry's psyche is forced to regress further and he become catatonic. This is the mind's way of calling a time-out. With time he eventually returns to his previous fugue state and that is where the film leaves him. Although not for everyone and not always consistent, it is an excellent film if you are willing to pay attention and not get distracted by Hollywood smarm.
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on February 16, 1999
I must admit my heart did a little flip-flop when I found out I could finally own my favorite movie of all time on DVD as of Feb 16th. If you are a new owner od a DVD player and you are still at that "Should I rent it or buy it" phase- I must beg you to consider this film as an addition to your growing library. It is by and far the best film to enrapture the Arthurian legend amid the urban squalor of everyday modern existence, thereby folding royalty among the peasants and turning a well known modern metropolis into a serfdom. Fisher King is brilliantly acted and structured from beginning to end, and makes for a fantastic evening of deep entertainment. Gilliam is a visual genuis and his thoughts and impressions flow onto the screen with carisma and charm unsurpassed in anything he's ever done. Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams give the performances of their careers, and you are not let down by any type of conventional plot. A thoroughly satisfying film. One that belongs in any serious film fanatics' library.
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on October 16, 2000
Not many movies have stayed with me as strongly as this one has. I watched it again last night and found it just as enthralling as when I first saw it at the cinema. My companions, who hadn't seen it before, loved it, and I had the opportunity to savour again some of the great set pieces - the naked romp in Central Park, the ballroom scene in Grand Central Station, the most over-the-top singing telegram in film history, and more. A feature of the film not mentioned by other reviewers is the way in which Manhatten is not only the backdrop to the action, but almost a character in its own right. I love the way Terry Gilliam has mythologised the city. When I visited Central Park, for example, I couldn't help imagining the red knight charging through the undergrowth, couldn't help seeing the skyscrapers as medieval fortresses. Another thing I noticed on a second viewing was simply how superlative the acting is. Despite the tone of melodrama throughout the film, each and every performance is utterly convincing. First time round I loved Robin Williams's performance. This time I was particularly struck by the dynamic between Jeff Bridges and oscar-winner Mercedes Ruehl. The only complaint I heard after last night's viewing was that the start was a bit slow. In all, though, this film ought to have made everyone involved with its making very proud. I hope they are.
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