Tag: The Fisher King

September 18, 2014 / / Main Slate

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Though it contains some apparently surreal moments, THE FISHER KING, the 1991 film written by Richard LaGravenese and directed by Terry Gilliam, often captures how urban life actually feels: by turns beautiful and ugly, expansive and confining. The New York City of THE FISHER KING is the perfect backdrop for a story about characters brought low by fate and searching for healing. It’s a particularly bruised fairy tale, and it works so well because its monsters – selfishness, grief, and bad luck among them – are fearsome and real.

December 22, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Peg Aloi

The Fisher King -1991 – dir. Terry Gilliam

Filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s version of the Fisher King legend posits a Manhattan where knights joust in Central Park, a thousand strangers waltz in Grand Central Station, and courtly love lives alongside dementia, decay and death. The ancient tale has been analyzed by scholars like Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Jessie Weston and Robert Graves, and is a central aspect of the Arthurian legend. The wounded king is Jack (Jeff Bridges), a popular radio talk-show host whose brash, arrogant misanthropy leads indirectly to a mass shooting that claims a number of victims; his ensuing guilt and shattered reputation leave him unemployed and depressed, riddled with guilt and self-loathing. In a scene slyly reminiscent of It’s a Wonderful Life, Jack meets a sort of guardian angel in Perry (Robin Williams, in one of his most enjoyable and eminently watchable screen portrayals). Perry is a former professor of medieval studies, who was personally affected by the shooting and who ends up homeless and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. When the two men cross paths several times, it seems inevitable they will both bring about the other’s rejuvenation, and the roles of wounded king and questing knight are often reversed and overlapped: which of these men is more wounded, and which one is most capable of selfless compassion?