Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Michael Palin, John Cleese,
Extras: Commentary Track, Sketches, Poster Art, Trailer
Director Terry Gilliam began work on "Jabberwocky" very soon after the completion of the classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." As both films are set in medieval times and feature cast members from the Monty Python troupe, comparisons between the two are inevitable. But "Jabberwocky" is really not a Python film at all and stands instead as Terry Gilliam’s first wholly original directorial effort.
Loosely based on the crazed poem by Lewis Carroll, the film revolves around the misadventures of Dennis the Apprentice (Michael Palin), who sets off for the big city to find fame and fortune and win the hand of his beloved, the mean and foul Griselda Fishfinger. But the land is beset by a terrible monster called the Jabberwock and before he knows it young Dennis finds himself mistaken for a princely knight and face to face with the foul beast in a duel to the death.
"Jabberwocky" is actually much more of a traditional comedy than "Holy Grail." The characters and environment are fully fleshed out and the story is told in a straightforward — if not a little crazed — way. And, as was the case with "Holy Grail," the gritty, nasty medieval world depicted on screen is probably as close to the harsh reality of that age as has been seen on the silver screen.
"Jabberwocky" is presented in both <$PS,pan & scan> and 1.85:1 <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> versions. While it’s nice to see the film in <$PS,widescreen>, the overall image quality is quite poor. Colors are washed out, the picture is soft, and black levels are very weak. On top of that, there is excessive film grain from beginning to end as well as a fair amount of physical damage to the film elements. In addition, heavy edge enhancement and ringing are obvious as are a number of compression artifacts. The occasional odd scene actually appears quite good but most of the film is a real mess. The <$PS,pan & scan> transfer on the flip side of the disc is even worse with all of these problems magnified. The video is certainly watchable but we’ve come to expect much better work from Columbia TriStar.
As an added bonus, "Jabberwocky" includes a few nice extras. First up is a running commentary with director Terry Gilliam and star Michael Palin. As one would expect from a pair of ex-Monty Python cast members, the track is quite engaging and funny. Surprisingly, it is also very detailed and both men have a lot of great memories from the making of "Jabberwocky."
Also included are English, Japanese, and Polish poster artwork as well as the film’s original theatrical trailer.
"Jabberwocky" is a wonderful comedy and as the first film directed solo by Terry Gilliam it exhibits many of the hallmarks that have made his cinematic forays so enjoyable. His interpretation of a fantasy world that overlays a very recognizable reality makes for an odd juxtaposition. Characters and situations all seem familiar but the jarring environment never allows the viewer to become too comfortable with the on-screen action. You may think you know what’s coming next but you can never really be certain.