"PRISON FOR EVERYONE"
Interview with US director Terry Gilliam, 64, on repression and his new film "The Brothers Grimm"
[This interview is translated from the German in: DER SPIEGEL 41, 2005.]
SPIEGEL: In the opening frame of your film "The Brothers Grimm" on the German fairy-tale collectors Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, a blackboard appears with the text: In French-occupied Germany...
Gilliam: I laugh about that every time I see the film! In the cinema Germany is traditionally regarded as the occupying power. However our film is set at the beginning of the 19th century when Germany was partly occupied by the French, not in the Nazi time. I find this inversion very amusing. I wanted to remind German viewers that the history of their land began before the 20th century.
SPIEGEL: The film shows how people fled from their dreary everyday routines into absurd fantasies. Does political repression promote creativity?
Gilliam: Absolutely. Think of the Spanish writer Cervantes. In his "Don Quixote," one of the most imaginative novels of world literature, he developed this idea in a prison. Thus I urge: Prison for everyone!
SPIEGEL: Does withdrawal from outward attractions strengthen the powers of imagination?
Gilliam: Definitely. When my children were small, we often drove to our vacation home in Italy. There was no television. My wife always said: The children will be terribly bored. I answered: I hope so. When they tried to overcome the boredom, the children began to create their own worlds. The imagination is like a muscle that has to be constantly trained. The imagination atrophies through media saturation.
SPIEGEL: How do you keep your imagination vivid?
Gilliam: My creativity grows fat. Still I fight against this. Every dollar cut from my budget spurs my creativity. My imagination would end without limitations.