Tideland (film)

Last updated

Tideland cover.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Screenplay by Tony Grisoni
Terry Gilliam
Based on Tideland
by Mitch Cullin
Produced by Gabriella Martinelli
Jeremy Thomas
Cinematography Nicola Pecorini
Edited by Lesley Walker
Music by Jeff Danna
Mychael Danna
Distributed by Revolver Entertainment (United Kingdom)
Capri Films (Canada) [1]
Release dates
  • 9 September 2005 (2005-09-09)(Toronto)
  • 11 August 2006 (2006-08-11)(UK)
  • 27 October 2006 (2006-10-27)(US)
Running time
120 minutes [2]
CountriesUnited Kingdom
BudgetCAD$19 million
Box office$566,611

Tideland is a 2005 fantasy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. It is an adaptation of Mitch Cullin's novel of the same name. The film was shot in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and the surrounding area in late 2004. The world premiere was at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival where the film received a mixed response from both viewers and critics. After little interest from U.S. distributors, THINKFilm picked the film up for a U.S. release date in October 2006.



Tideland centers on an abandoned child, Jeliza-Rose, and her solitary adventures during one summer in rural Texas while staying at a rundown farmhouse called What Rocks, and focuses on the increasingly dark, imaginative fantasy life the girl creates with the aid of dismembered Barbie doll heads that she often wears on her fingertips. With names such as Mystique, Sateen Lips, Baby Blonde and Glitter Gal, the doll heads not only engage in long conversations with Jeliza-Rose, reflecting different aspects of the girl's psyche, but also act as her companions while she explores the barren Texas landscape.

After her mother overdoses on Methadone, Jeliza-Rose and her father, Noah, flee to Noah's mother's home, a remote Texas farmhouse. Before they leave, however, Noah fears that with all the drugs in their house he will lose Jeliza-Rose and be sent to prison, so he attempts to set it alight, although Jeliza-Rose manages to stop him. They find the farmhouse abandoned, but they settle in anyway. Their first night there, Noah dies from a heroin overdose. For much of the rest of the film, Noah's corpse remains seated upright in a living room chair with sunglasses covering his eyes. As her father slowly begins to decompose, Jeliza-Rose doesn't readily acknowledge his death because she has grown accustomed to him being unconscious for long periods at a time. Instead, she retreats deeper and deeper into her own mind, exploring the tall grass around the farmhouse, relying on her doll heads for friendship as an unconscious way of keeping herself from feeling too lonely and afraid.

During Jeliza-Rose's wanderings, she eventually encounters and befriends her neighbors, a mentally impaired young man called Dickens and his older sister Dell who is blind in one eye from a bee sting. At this point the story begins to unfold, revealing a past connection between Dell and Jeliza-Rose's deceased father. The eccentric neighbors take the girl under their wing, going so far as to preserve Noah's body via taxidermy (which Dell and Dickens did to their own dead mother). Amorous feelings, initiated mostly by the much younger Jeliza-Rose, begin to creep into the childlike relationship between her and Dickens, and it is revealed that the deeply troubled Dickens, a man-child who once drove a school bus in front of an oncoming train, keeps a stash of dynamite in his bedroom that he intends to use against the "Monster Shark" he believes is roaming the countryside. The Monster Shark is, in reality, the nightly passenger train that travels past the farmhouse where Jeliza-Rose and her dead father reside. It is also revealed that Dell and Noah were once "kissers", as Jeliza-Rose finds pictures of the two in the room Dell shares with her own taxidermied mother.

At the end of the film, following a violent confrontation between Dell, Dickens and Jeliza-Rose, a train wreck is caused by Dickens' dynamite, creating a scene of chaos near the farmhouse. Wandering about the wreckage, and among the confusion of injured travelers, Jeliza-Rose is discovered by a woman who survived, and she assumes the little girl is also a victim of the train wreck. The film ends with the woman embracing Jeliza-Rose, who stares with stunned confusion at the wreckage.


Critical reception

Jeremy Thomas (left) and Terry Gilliam at San Sebastian Film Festival 2005. Press conference on Tideland. TerryGilliamSanSebastian2005.jpg
Jeremy Thomas (left) and Terry Gilliam at San Sebastián Film Festival 2005. Press conference on Tideland.

At Spain's 2005 San Sebastian Festival, Tideland was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize, [4] selected by an international jury of critics [5] who, in their award statement, said: "Our jury focused on the international competition and found Terry Gilliam's Tideland to be the best film of the selection—a decision which provoked controversial reactions." [6] The jury consisted of Andrei Plakhov, Russia, President ( Kommersant ), Julio Feo Zarandieta, France ( Radio France Internationale ), Wolfgang Martin Hamdorf, Germany ( Film-Dienst ), Massimo Causo, Italy ( Corriere Del Giorno ), and Sergi Sanchez, Spain ( La Razón ). [5]

In response to the controversy surrounding the film's FIPRESCI win at San Sebastian, jurist Sergi Sanchez wrote: "Gilliam's was the only one that dared to propose a risky and radical image, without any concessions, on a specific matter: madness as the only way of escaping in the face of a hostile environment. All this is endlessly coherent with the director's body of work, which has been frequently misunderstood by the critics, the industry, and audiences alike." Defending Gilliam's film while also placing it in the context of the director's previous works, as well as explaining the jury's decision, Sanchez concluded by stating, "Fighting against windmills is, after all, the same as fighting against the prejudices that trap creative freedom." [7]

The subsequent mainstream reviews of Tideland were mixed, with Japan being the only country where it was both a critical and box office success. [8] The film was first released in Russia (February 2006) followed by the Netherlands (March 2006) and Greece (May 2006). [9] After almost a year without any US distribution, the film was picked up for American release by THINKFilm, and subsequently opened in the US, earning just $7,276 from one theater during its first week run. The film's release was then expanded, but to only nine theatres, for a total domestic gross of $66,453. [10] Since then, several independent cinemas and art museums have presented the film as a special event, including IFC Center and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. [11]

Gilliam has openly criticized THINKFilm for the manner in which the company handled the American theatrical release of the film, [12] and their unauthorized tampering with the aspect ratio of the film for its US DVD release. He has also gone on record as saying that nearly all his films have initially garnered mixed reactions from critics, and in at least one interview, as well as in the introduction to Tideland, he has stated that he believes many moviegoers will hate Tideland, others will love it, and some just won't know what to think about it. [13] Gilliam has also said that Michael Palin, another former member of Monty Python, had told him that the film was either the best thing he had ever done, or the worstalthough Palin himself couldn't quite decide either way. [14]

Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman gave Tideland an "F", [15] calling it "gruesomely awful". In the subsequent review of the DVD release, Gleiberman's fellow Entertainment Weekly critic Clark Collis gave the film a "B" [16] and stated: "Terry Gilliam's grim fairy tale is another fantastic(al) showcase for his visual talents." [16]

The film received a "two thumbs way down" rating from Richard Roeper and guest critic A.O. Scott on the television show Ebert & Roeper . Scott said that toward the end, the film was "creepy, exploitive, and self-indulgent," a sentiment that was echoed in his New York Times review of the film. [17] Like Scott, Roeper had a strong negative opinion, saying, "I hated this film," and "I came very close to walking out of the screening room. And I never do that." [18] In the Chicago Reader , critic Jonathan Rosenbaum said the film was "hallucinatory and extremely unpleasant" and warned readers, "Enter this diseased Lewis Carroll universe at your own risk." [19]

The Chicago Tribune critic Michael Wilmington, [20] however, praised the film, [21] further stating that "... it's crazy, dangerous and sometimes gorgeous ...", [22] and Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News wrote, "Tideland, for me, is a masterpiece", a blurb featured on the DVD release. [23]

Filmmaker David Cronenberg described the film as a "poetic horror film", a quote which was used in the advertising campaign for the theatrical release. [24] Filmmaker Rian Johnson named Tideland and The Fountain as his favorite films of 2006. [25]

In the 16 July 2007 online edition of Independent Film Channel News, Michael Atkinson published a comparative film review of Harry Kümel's rarely seen Malpertuis (1971) and Tideland. Atkinson posits that a historical perspective has made Kümel's previously scorned film a more viable creation when far removed from the cultural context in which it was first released. He goes on to argue that Tideland could be the 21st century counterpart to Malpertuis, suggesting that Gilliam's film "is a snark-hunted freak just waiting for its historical moment, decades from now, when someone makes a case for it as a neglected masterpiece." [26]

Home media

The DVD of Tideland was released on 27 February 2007 in a 2-disc "Collector's Edition", with a commentary track, many interviews, deleted scenes (with a forced commentary over the original audio), and a making-of documentary entitled Getting Gilliam, made by Cube director Vincenzo Natali.

There has been some controversy among fans over the aspect ratio presented on the Region 1 DVD released by THINKFilm for the United States, which is 1.78:1, instead of the aspect ratio prepared and approved by Gilliam and the director of photography (in theaters, it was shown in 2.35:1, but Gilliam wanted to open up the image slightly for home video, somewhere between 2.10:1 and 2.25:1). [27]

There were early reports that DVD releases in Canada (Region 1) and other regions used the theatrical aspect ratio, but these have proven to be entirely false. The Region 3 DVD was rumored to feature the fully corrected transfer, [28] but this was later debunked on the same website where the claim was made; as shown in a purported screen capture of the Hong Kong release, [29] the Region 3 DVD uses the incorrect aspect ratio.

The UK (Region 2) release, does have a 2.10:1 aspect ratio. [30] The German EuroVideo–Concorde Home Entertainment release has been independently verified to use the theatrical 2.35:1 ratio, as is seen in screen captures from it. [31] OFDb.de also gives this ratio for the German release. [32]

Both THINKFilm and Gilliam have publicly stated that they are working on a solution to the ratio problem and will release a corrected version for sale as soon as possible. [30] That did not happen until the BluRay editions were released a decade later, long after THINKFilm had gone out of business.



See also

Related Research Articles

Terry Gilliam American-born British filmmaker, animator and actor

Terrence Vance Gilliam is an American-born British filmmaker, animator, actor, comedian and former member of the Monty Python comedy troupe.

<i>12 Monkeys</i> 1995 American film

12 Monkeys is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt, with Christopher Plummer and David Morse in supporting roles. After Universal Studios acquired the rights to remake La Jetée as a full-length film, David and Janet Peoples were hired to write the script.

<i>Brazil</i> (1985 film) 1985 film by Terry Gilliam

Brazil is a 1985 dystopian black comedy film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, and Tom Stoppard. The film stars Jonathan Pryce and features Robert De Niro, Kim Greist, Michael Palin, Katherine Helmond, Bob Hoskins, and Ian Holm.

<i>Time Bandits</i> 1981 British fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam

Time Bandits is a 1981 British fantasy adventure film co-written, produced, and directed by Terry Gilliam. It stars Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Peter Vaughan and David Warner. It tells the story of a young boy taken on an adventure through time with a band of thieves who plunder treasure from various points in history.

<i>The Adventures of Baron Munchausen</i> 1988 film by Terry Gilliam

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a 1988 adventure fantasy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, and starring John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Robin Williams and Uma Thurman. An international co-production between the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany, the film is based on the tall tales about the 18th-century German nobleman Baron Munchausen and his wartime exploits against the Ottoman Empire.

<i>The Fisher King</i> 1991 film by Terry Gilliam

The Fisher King is a 1991 American fantasy comedy-drama film written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges, with Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, and Michael Jeter in supporting roles, the film tells the story of a radio shock jock who tries to find redemption by helping a man whose life he inadvertently shattered. It explores "the intermingling of New York City's usually strictly separated social strata" and has been described as "a modern-day Grail Quest that fused New York romantic comedy with timeless fantasy".

<i>Lost in La Mancha</i> 2002 film by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe

Lost in La Mancha is a 2002 documentary film about the making of Terry Gilliam's first attempt at The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. His effort was a film adaptation of the 1605/1615 novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. The documentary was shot in 2000 during Gilliam's first attempt to make the film, as an intended work of the genre known as the "making-of". But Gilliam's failure to complete his film resulted in the documentary filmmakers retitling their work as Lost in la Mancha and releasing it independently.

<i>At the Movies</i> (1986 TV program) Movie review television program

At the Movies was an American movie review television program produced by Disney–ABC Domestic Television in which two film critics share their opinions of newly released films. Its original hosts were Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, the former hosts of Sneak Previews on PBS (1975–1982) and a similarly titled syndicated series (1982–1986). Following Siskel's death in 1999, Ebert worked with various guest critics until choosing Chicago Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper as his regular partner in 2000.

The Criterion Collection American home video distribution company

The Criterion Collection, Inc. is an American home-video distribution company that focuses on licensing, restoring and distributing "important classic and contemporary films." Criterion serves film and media scholars, cinephiles and public and academic libraries. Criterion has helped to standardize certain aspects of home-video releases such as film restoration, the letterboxing format for widescreen films and the inclusion of bonus features such as scholarly essays and commentary tracks. Criterion has produced and distributed more than 1,000 special editions of its films in VHS, Betamax, LaserDisc, DVD, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray formats and box sets. These films and their special features are also available via an online streaming service that the company operates.

<i>The Brothers Grimm</i> (film) 2005 film by Terry Gilliam

The Brothers Grimm is a 2005 adventure fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam. The film stars Matt Damon, Heath Ledger and Lena Headey in an exaggerated and fictitious portrait of the Brothers Grimm as traveling con-artists in French-occupied Germany, during the early 19th century. However, the brothers eventually encounter a genuine fairy tale curse which requires real courage instead of their usual bogus exorcisms. Supporting characters are played by Peter Stormare, Jonathan Pryce, and Monica Bellucci.

<i>Tideland</i> Book by Mitch Cullin

Tideland is the third published book by author Mitch Cullin, and is the third installment of the writer's Texas Trilogy that also includes the coming-of-age novel Whompyjawed and the novel-in-verse Branches.

<i>The Squid and the Whale</i> 2005 film by Noah Baumbach

The Squid and the Whale is a 2005 American independent drama film written and directed by Noah Baumbach and produced by Wes Anderson. It tells the semi-autobiographical story of two boys in Brooklyn dealing with their parents' divorce in 1986. The film is named after the giant squid and sperm whale diorama housed at the American Museum of Natural History, which is seen in the film. The film was shot on Super 16mm, mostly using a handheld camera.

<i>Slither</i> (2006 film) 2006 American science-fiction black comedy horror film by James Gunn

Slither is a 2006 science fiction black comedy horror film written and directed by James Gunn in his directorial debut. Produced by Paul Brooks and Eric Newman, the film stars Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Tania Saulnier, Gregg Henry, and Michael Rooker. The film is set in a small town in South Carolina that becomes invaded by a malevolent alien parasite.

Mitch Cullin is an American writer. He is the author of seven novels, and one short story collection. He currently resides in Arcadia, California and Tokyo, Japan with his partner and frequent collaborator Peter I. Chang. His books have been translated into over 10 languages, among them French, Polish, Japanese, and Italian.

Recorded Picture Company

Recorded Picture Company is a British film production company founded in 1974 by producer Jeremy Thomas.

<i>Paperhouse</i> (film) 1988 film by Bernard Rose

Paperhouse is a 1988 British dark fantasy film directed by Bernard Rose. It was based on the 1958 novel Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr. The film stars Ben Cross, Glenne Headly and Gemma Jones. The original novel was the basis of a six-episode British TV series for children in the early 1970s which was titled Escape Into Night.

Peter I. Chang is a Taiwanese-born mixed-media artist, illustrator, and filmmaker. He has often collaborated with the author Mitch Cullin who is also his domestic partner.

<i>The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus</i> 2009 film by Terry Gilliam

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a 2009 fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam and written by Gilliam and Charles McKeown. The film follows a travelling theatre troupe whose leader, having made a bet with the Devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imaginations and present them with a choice between self-fulfilling enlightenment or gratifying ignorance.

Tony Grisoni is a British screenwriter. He lives in London. His first feature film, Queen of Hearts, directed by Jon Amiel, won the Grand Prix at the 1990 Festival du Film de Paris.

<i>The Zero Theorem</i> 2013 film by Terry Gilliam

The Zero Theorem is a 2013 science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis, Mélanie Thierry and Lucas Hedges. Written by Pat Rushin, the story is about Qohen Leth (Waltz), a reclusive computer genius tasked with solving a formula that will determine whether life holds meaning. The film began production in October 2012.


  1. Capri Films - Capri Releasing Archived 24 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "TIDELAND (15)". British Board of Film Classification . 13 July 2006. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
  3. Tideland at IMDb
  4. "ARCHIVE OF AWARDS, JURIES AND POSTERS". Sansebastianfestival.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  5. 1 2 "2005 FIPRESCI". Fipresci.org. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  6. "FIPRESCI Award Statement". Fipresci.org. Archived from the original on 14 December 2005. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  7. Sergi Sánchez. "Terry Gilliam's 'Tideland': Alice in 'Nightmareland'". Fipresci.org. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  8. "Ask Terry Gilliam". Smart.co.uk. 11 August 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  9. "Release dates for Tideland". IMDB.
  10. "Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. 13 October 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  11. "MAMFW". MAMFW. 29 October 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  12. "The Joys of Independent Filmmaking". Smart.co.uk. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  13. "Dreams Interview". Smart.co.uk. 11 August 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  14. "Michael Palin reference". Fftimes.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  15. Owen Gleiberman (11 October 2006). "EW Tideland Review". Ew.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  16. 1 2 Clark Collis (23 February 2007). "Tideland | DVD Review | Entertainment Weekly". Ew.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  17. "Tideland: A Girl Endures a No-Man’s Land by Dwelling in the Make-Believe," A. O. Scott, The New York Times, 13 October 2006
  18. Audio recording of Scott and Roeper review of Tideland.
  19. Posted (20 October 2006). "Tideland". Jonathan Rosenbaum. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  20. "Chicago - Chicago Tribune Film Critic Steps Down". Contactmusic.com. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  21. "Michael O'Sullivan. Gilliam, Searching for His Audience // The Washington Post, 27 October 2006". Washingtonpost.com. 27 October 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  22. Wilmington, Michael (28 August 2007). "Movie review: 'Tideland' - Metromix Chicago Movies". Chicago.metromix.com. Archived from the original on 6 February 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  23. "Ain't It Cool News review". Aintitcool.com. 22 September 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  24. "David Cronenberg citation". Fftimes.com. Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  25. "Filmspotting, Film, Podcast, Movies, Reviews, Top 5 Lists, DVDs, Adam Kempenaar". Archived from the original on 31 July 2007.
  26. 07/16/2007 1200 AM by Michael Atkinson (16 July 2007). ""Malpertuis", "Tideland" by Michael Atkinson, IFC News (16 July 2007)". Ifc.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  27. "ThinkFilm Think They Know Better Than Terry Gilliam". film ick. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  28. "The Dreams Messageboard : Tideland News & Reviews : US TIDELAND DVD ASPECT RATIO". Philstubbs.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  29. ":: View topic - Terry Gilliam on DVD". Criterionforum.org. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  30. 1 2 "Dreams: Tideland, a Terry Gilliam film, Cropped". Smart.co.uk. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  31. "DVD Vergleiche—Tideland" (in German). Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 4 December 2007.
  32. Sascha Imme. "OFDb - Fassung zu Tideland (2005)" (in German). Ofdb.de. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  33. Golden Trailer Awards Archived 11 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  34. "Jasna Stefanovic". Allocine.co.uk. 23 November 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  35. "Mario Davignon (I)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  36. "Mario Davignon home". Mariodavignon.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
  37. "Lesley Walker filmography - Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. Retrieved 27 November 2010.