A medieval comedy-adventure starring Michael Palin and directed by Terry Gilliam, Jabberwocky is an episodic adaptation of Lewis Carroll's surreal poem. Having previously directed Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975) with Terry Jones, Jabberwocky marked Gilliam's solo directorial debut--is it coincidental that Jones is killed by the titular monster in the opening scene? Palin plays the naive Dennis Cooper, a man seeking his fortune just as the Jabberwocky is laying waste to the country. It's much the same world as Holy Grail, with all the trappings of the romantic... Hollywood epic being liberally coated with literal and metaphorical muck. Palin's character causes unwitting mayhem wherever he goes--one stand-out scene involves the destruction of a maintenance shop for damaged knights-in-armour--though as much humour comes from exposing the foibles of the people he meets. And those people constitute a roll call of contemporary British comedy: Harry H Corbett as a sex-mad squire, Warren Mitchell's Mr Fishfinger, plus Annette Badland, Max Wall, John Le Mesurier, Rodney Bewes, John Bird, Neil Innes and John Gorman. Jabberwocky lacks the hilarity of Holy Grail, but is a consistently amusing, exceptionally atmospheric, gleefully gory yarn which points the way to Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). On the DVD Jabberwocky is distinguished by an engaging and enthusiastic commentary from Gilliam and Palin, in which they delight in the amazing cast and ponder how such a handsome film was made. Otherwise the extras are a short sketch-to-screen comparison, three posters and three trailers (only one for Jabberwocky). Transferred anamorphically enhanced at 1.77:1, the picture is variable, with many beautifully lit indoor scenes looking fine, while other exterior, daylight shots appear washed out. There is some minor print damage. The sound is a revelation for a low-budget 1970s film originally released in mono. Given a full Dolby Digital 5.1 remix the tremendously detailed, rich and involving soundscape really brings Gilliam's world alive and puts many much more recent and expensive titles to shame. --Gary S Dalkin [show more]
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