Director Terry Gilliam has never really got on with Hollywood. Studio interference in both his films Brazil and Adventures of Baron Munchausen made him say he never wanted to work there again. But when he was offered The Fisher King and read the script he was convinced that this was his sort of movie and he could do it justice.
Robin Williams is Parry, a homeless history professor who lives in a fantasy world full of castles, Red Knights and damsels in distress. Bridges co-stars as Jack, New York’s #1 shock deejay, whose off-hand arrogance triggers a tragedy which ruins his career. Penniless and without prospects, Jack finds himself plucked from disaster by the most improbable of saviors… Parry.
This dramatic comedy has a fantastic cast and a story which is both heart warming and tragic. Arthurian mythology plays a key role and director Gilliam’s brilliant visual touches match the mood of the story and New York City perfectly. Jeff Bridges gives a roller coaster performance as Jack, Robin Williams is at his restrained best as Parry and Mercedes Ruehl as his girlfriend Anne rightly took home the Oscar for best supporting actress.
Criterion have released the Blu ray in the UK and is identical to the one released in the USA in 2015. Picture quality is excellent and was struck from a new 2k remaster. Depth, colour and detailed close-ups are superb and this is a very good transfer indeed. Audio has English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and again is top-notch with immersive sound field throughout the whole running time.
Extras are what Criterion are known for also and they come up trumps here.
- Six Deleted Scenes – presented here is a selection of deleted scenes which were selected by Terry Gilliam and transferred from a work print. Each scene includes surrounding footage from the finished film to indicate its original content. Optional audio commentaries (for each scene) by Terry Gilliam are included as well which is a nice touch.
- The Tale of “The Fisher King” – Two new short documentaries that focus on the production history of The Fisher King as well as the initial casting ideas, its visual style and design. you have interviews with Terry Gilliam, producer Lynda Obst, Mercedes Ruehl, Jeff Bridges , Amanda Plummer, and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese.
- The Tale of The Red Knight – Here artists Keith Greco and Vincent Jefferds recall how The Red Knight came to exist and discuss some of the big technical dilemmas they faced while working on it.
- Jeff’s Tale – during the shooting of The Fisher King, Jeff Bridges took various photographs with his Widelux camera. In this extra the actor shows and discusses some of his photographs.
- Jeff and Jack – Jeff Bridges recalls his work with acting coach Stephen Bridgewater, who taught him how to be a shock jock. Included in it is archival footage from the improvisation sessions in Jack Lucas’ studio.
- Robin’s Tale – in this interview done in 2006, the late great Robin Williams discusses his initial impressions of the script, Terry Gilliam’s working methods, the shooting of various scenes across New York City and a lot more.
- Audio Commentary – in this interesting audio commentary, director Terry Gilliam explains in great detail how various parts of The Fisher King were shot, casting, difficulties etc.
Overall a first class release with a fantastic remastered picture, soundtrack and extras.
FILM: 8 PICTURE: 9 AUDIO: 9 EXTRAS: 10