The Fisher King, Blu-ray (1991/2015)

The Fisher King, Blu-ray (1991/2015)

Director: Terry Gilliam
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Ruehl
Screenwriter: Richard La Gravenese
Studio: Tri Star/ The Criterion Collection 764 (6/23/15)
Video: 1.78 for 16:9 1080p HD color
Audio: English DS-HS MA 5.3. PCM stereo
Subtitles: English
Extras: Commentary track by Terry Gilliam; New interviews with Gilliam, producer Lynda Obst, screenwriter La Gravenese, actors Bridges, Plummer & Ruehl; New interview with artists Keith Greco and Vincent Jeferds on creation of The Red Knight; 2006 Robin Williams interview; New video on Jeff Bridge’s WideLux B&W photos on shoot; Deleted scenes with Gilliam commentary; Costume tests; Trailers; Printed poster with essay by critic Bilge Ebiri
Length: 138 min.
Review: *****

Glliam wanted to do a smaller picture without a lot of special effects after a sort of diasaster on Baron Munchausen. This film was the first time he used another screenwriter, which he had said he wouldn’t do, because he was so taken with Gravenese’s script. Set in the glorious places as well as underbelly of Manhattan, the plot is a sort of fairytale grounded in reality. Bridges is a self-obsessed “shock jock” on radio who is faced with reconstructing his life after a terrible scandal. He meets the homeless crazy man played by Williams, who is a Don Quixote-type on a quest to get the Holy Grail, which he believes a wealthy Manhattan person has.

The two odd figures sort of aid one another on an odd journey to redemption. The former DJ Jack finally does a humane helpful thing in getting the mentally disturbed Parry character together with the woman of his dreams, Lydia (Plummer). (At one point he sings to her the Groucho Marx song about “Lydia the Tatooed Lady.”) The ancient tale of the Fisher King is central to the plot, though it is never explained how the Fisher part comes into it when Parry explains the story.

This is a fantastic job of directing, and quite different from all other Gilliam features. Although it has a happy ending (unlike Brazil) there is plenty of Gilliam’s special touch on the dark side. All four of the lead actors do a terrific job, and the extras are most interesting – especially the Robin Williams one and the one on the many struggles to create the Red Knight effect back before movies had the ability to do most anything via CGI.

—John Sunier

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