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by Wooley
posted on 9/12/22


Here we have Terry Gilliam’s solo directorial debut, a story about a young man (Michael Palin) living in the Dark Ages setting out to find life in the Big City. But all the land lives under the shadow of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, a monster so fierce it reduces its victims to bloody, pulp-covered skeletons. Eek!
The movie is fairly slow and not nearly as funny as any Python film or sketch I can think of, with a startling amount of the humor being scatological. Early in the film you would swear that all of the jokes are going to be about someone pissing or shitting or being pissed on. But this isn't so. There's even more hygiene-based humor. And really just a lot of humor about how shitty things really were in the Dark Ages and how crappy it must have been to be alive then. Although very little if any of the humor will make you laugh, more just kind of grin or smirk.
But I don't say that as a bad thing. I actually liked the movie.
For one thing, it has better acting than every film I’ve watched this month. Easily. Every performance is credible and bought-in and I felt like actors gave even very small roles a lived-in feel.
Also, the opening scene is basically the The Evil Dead four years earlier, technique-wise. Like Sam Raimi was watching this and then wanted to make a Horror movie later and couldn’t get it out of his head.

Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film a one-star negative review, calling it "a film suitable for those who like unfunny comedies" and added that "to link it to Lewis Carroll or to his poem is to insult both." He further commented:
"Jabberwocky is being billed as made by the Monty Python comedy crew, with artwork that suggests it's a sequel to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That's misleading on both counts. Only a couple of the Python gang (seen regularly on contributed to the script, and the result is a crude and totally unfunny picture. When in doubt, the script resorts to jokes about urination, defecation, or dismemberment.”
But I beg to differ with Gene on this. I found the film enjoyable if slow. I suspect he got hung up on expectations from the obviously much funnier Monty Python And The Holy Grail. And, as I've said, there aren't a lot of funny jokes or bits. But the movie has something that I like. The feel maybe. I do love how grimy and ugly Gilliam made the Dark Ages look. I mean, this is the king!

Everything is just covered in grime and you can tell no one has bathed in ages and probably everybody has boils all over underneath and you really feel that in just about every frame. You see this in HG and Time Bandits too but he really lays it on here.
Also, as has been remarked on in a number of reviews, the jousting scene is just aces. I mean it feels like the real thing. And when even the king and princess are covered in blood just from watching, I got a real kick out of it. And a lot of people praised the Jaberrwocky itself and I think when you see it and the way it moves and the way Gilliam films it, you'll instantly be reminded of the cow-skull demons from Time Bandits. Yes, you can really see Gilliam's style in this film.
So, really, for a $500,000 first-effort from a director I think most of us like, I was reasonably happy with Jabberwocky and would give it at least a pat on the head.