Terry Gilliam’s career has been a bit of a wooly thing, flitting from genre to genre and flirting with the mainstream without ever quite consummating the relationship. His best film to date remains Brazil, a dystopic masterpiece that’s bookended by another pair of singular accomplishments — the well-regarded fantasy adventure Time Bandits and the less-celebrated epic The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. (A book, Losing the Light, was written about bringing that oversized project — a must-see for anyone who interested in expansive, expensive whimsy in the days before CGI — to the screen.) He next made The Fisher King, a nicely written (by Richard LaGravenese) romantic comedy with the hint of madness around the edges, with Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams, and then snared Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt for his big commercial triumph, a feature-length extrapolation from Chris Marker’s brilliant science-fiction short “La Jetée” called Twelve Monkeys. For an encore project, he moved in as a fix-it artist on a troubled Hunter S. Thompson biopic, completing the Johnny Depp vehicle and instant stoner classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. And with that, his future in the industry seemed assured.
And then the bottom fell out.