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Writers:Lewis Carroll (poem)
Charles Alverson (screenplay) ...
Release Date:15 April 1977 (USA)
Genre:Adventure | Comedy | Fantasy | Horror
Tagline:Jabberwocky: the monster so horrible that people caught the plague to avoid it
1977s Jabberwocky is a film based on the Lewis Carroll poem. The film is directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Time Bandits) and is a humourous fantasy brimming with lots of goofy moments and buffoonery. Jabberwocky presents a vision of the Middle Ages that is very comical, grotesque, rude, vile and disgusting. Its also very funny.
The poem by Lewis Carroll is essentially a poem of nonsensical verse. It is found as a part of his novel Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. The poem has been translated and studied in many languages, with many people trying to make sense out of the very nature of Carrolls work and others trying to figure out if there is any hidden meaning to the poem. Through it all, Monty Pythons resident animator Terry Gilliam elected to put his spin on the material and the loosely based Jabberwocky film was born.
The film stars Michael Palin as Dennis Cooper. Cooper is, yes, a cooper (someone who makes wooden containers) who is forced through a series of comical and strange events to hunt down a terrible monster after the death of his father. Dennis is pretty unlucky, but circumstances soon unfold to provide the cooper with ample opportunities to rectify his own situation and prove his father and others wrong.
Jabberwocky is very similar in style to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as its take on the Middle Ages and the people of that time is very comic and very crass. In Jabberwocky, someone always seems to be pissing off of a building or taking a noisy dump in the bushes. The film didnt do too well in terms of box office or critical reception at the time of its release, but since then Jabberwocky has become somewhat of a cult film and has resonated with Python fans and fans of dark humour.
The film does, through its comedy and through its characters, focus in on several thematic elements. One of the themes is that of happiness. By the end of the film, Dennis gets everything a fairy tale hero would want (the recognition for killing the beast, the princesss hand in marriage, and half of the kingdom) all by accident. All Dennis wanted was to live a humdrum life with an overweight peasant girl, who didnt even like him. The films bucking of the natural trend and essentially forcing superficial happiness on it is really a commentary on how ones happiness is entirely subjective. While Dennis attraction to the peasant girl may not make sense to us, it does to him and that is what is important.
Jabberwocky is not as funny as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and it does contain some moments of creaking boredom, but it is a rather comical fantasy that explores several thematic elements lurking below the surface. The characters are hilarious, too, including King Bruno the Questionable and Passelewe. Whether its people defecating, boys peeing on Dennis, a silly monster, fat peasant girls, jovial infidelity, gory violence, ineptitude, or someone constantly selling cabbages youre after, youre likely to find it in this comical mess of a film.