Tideland (film)

Last updated

Tideland
Tideland cover.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Produced by Gabriella Martinelli
Jeremy Thomas
Screenplay by Tony Grisoni
Terry Gilliam
Based on Tideland
by Mitch Cullin
Starring
Music by Jeff Danna
Mychael Danna
Cinematography Nicola Pecorini
Edited by Lesley Walker
Production
company
Distributed by Revolver Entertainment (UK)
Capri Films (CAN) [1]
THINKFilm (US)
Release date
  • 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]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Canada
LanguageEnglish
BudgetCAD$19 million
Box office$566,611

Tideland is a 2005 British-Canadian neo-noir fantasy horror 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 was met with 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.

Contents

Plot

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. 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 before they leave, 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 are not only "kissers," but also brother and sister, after Jeliza-Rose finds the trinkets in the dead mother's room to belong to her father.

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.

Cast

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 esteemed 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 largely 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] [ dead link ] 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] [ dead link ] 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.

Accolades

Won
Nominated

See also

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References

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