For his tenth feature, Terry Gilliam(aged 64 at the time) (Time Bandits, Twelve Monkeys) adapted Mitch Cullin’s celebrated cult novel Tideland, a work he once described as “Alice in Wonderland meets Psycho through the eyes of Amélie.” and a film that is ‘seen through the eyes of a child.
To escape her unhappy life in a remote part of Texas, nine-year-old Jeliza-Rose (played by Kingdom Hospitals Jodelle Ferland ) dreams up an elaborate fantasy world. But the reality of having drug addict parents – played by Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) and Jennifer Tilly (Bound) – and the influence of her eccentric neighbours begins to encroach, turning her daydreams ever darker and with this film being from the creator of such uniquely strange films Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, and Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, you just know that these day dreams will be dark and bizarre and bizarre and dark they are.
Anyone familiar with the work of Gilliam will know roughly what to expect and half of the beauty of following this mans career through the years is even though you think you know what you’ll get, you always end up getting something you didn’t quite imagine. Tideland is no different and is easily one of his most personal films so it would be a crime against film to go through the film scene by scene, talking (or in this case writing) about my highlights and favourite scenes. Ive loved the majority of Gilliams work mainly because you just dont know where your brain will be by the time the end credits roll.
Behind the screen, and with many of Gilliam’s films, the making of the film is nearly as interesting as the film itself. Terry Gilliam took up Tideland during an unscheduled break whilst putting together his other film The Brothers Grimm. There was a behind the scenes fall out between producer Harvey Weinstein and Gilliam over who gets the final cut of the film (Gilliam is no strange to falling out over final cuts, as the same thing happened with a different producer on his earlier film Brazil.) So on one hand its a shame when film makers fall out, but were it not for the battling between Terry and Harvey, then we might never have had Tideland in the world, and that would be even sadder than two men fighting over editing.
As with most of Arrow Videos releases of the classics, the special feature list is a wonderful glimpse behind the curtain of the film and of course, they should definitely be checked out after youve finished the film. (I opted to wait a couple of days after re-watching the film before I hit the Special Features menu, just so I could let the film settle in my mind)
So, what are the special features on the blu ray? Well you do get a glorious 1080p presentation of the two hour film, and for audiophiles you get DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio if you choose. Theres a full length commentary by writer-director Terry Gilliam with his co-writer Tony Grison, and a 1 minute very strange introduction to the film by director Terry Giliam shot in black and white and giving you a tip for watching the film.
Documentary wise, we get a great 45-minute documentary on the making of Tideland by Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) entitled Getting Gilliam
The Making of Tideland featurette on the disc sadly only runs for just over 5 minutes so you learn less in this featurette than you do in Getting Gilliam or the commentary, but still. Its fun to see as much footage as possible, Filming Green Screen featurette with commentary by Gilliam is a short 3 minute featurette which shows some of the visual tricks pulled in the film. There are video interviews with Terry Gilliam, producer Jeremy Thomas and actors Jeff Bridges, Jodelle Ferland and Jennifer Tilly total around 30 minutes and give even more insight into the process of making Tideland although they do seem a little choppy with a title card featuring a question which then cuts to the video of the answer. A strange way to showcase interviews but this is Terry Gilliam after all.
If deleted scenes are your thing, then you get 5 minutes of these and with commentary by Terry Gilliam, I found it far more interesting to hear why they were cut but it was a little distracting to not be able to hear the characters talk, whilst Terry is talking us through the scene itself. So as always, Arrow never let down the film fan with wonderful restorations of films and a ‘film school’ of sorts when it comes to the special features.
I remember the first time I saw Tideland upon its original release back in 2005 and it certainly didnt have the visual, audio, extra features that this Arrow release has, so many thanks to the team who put this edition out. Great to see Tideland standing the test of time