Enter the magical world of Jeliza-Rose, an unusual child with
an even more unusual story. Hers is a world where squirrels
talk, where fireflies have names, and where the heads of dolls,
long since separated from their bodies, are her closest friends.
After the sudden death of her junkie mother, Jeliza embarks
on a strange journey with her farther, a rock-and-roll musician
well past his prime. But this journey offers little for Jeliza
by way of consolation and as the vast loneliness of her new
existence grows she falls deeper and deeper into the twisted
world of fantasy that she has created in her mind...
Gilliam has done it again. He's produced another original
masterpiece that will alienate the majority of the knuckle
scrapping audience that seem to venture out to the cinema
these days. Most won't get it and slate Gilliam for going
too far this time. The sweet irony is that what Gilliam is
trying to do (and succeeds by the way) is to get away from
this ridiculous notion, perpetuated by the tabloid press,
that children are victims. Most good parents these days won't
allow their children to play outside after dark or go anywhere
on their own. The reason being that there are, we are led
to believe, dangerous sexual predators on every street corner.
Or, that faced with real horrors, like a family member or
even a pet dying, children can not cope with the truth - these
are things that should be hidden from them. It would seem
that children are too fragile to learn the truth about the
world we live in.
doesn't have this luxury. Both her parents are selfish individuals
that don't really think about protecting their daughter. Both
are drug addicts and the early scenes of Jeliza preparing
her father's heroine syringe have come in for heavy criticism.
In reality they simply illustrate an innocent daughter doing
a job to please her father. She has no more idea about what
she is doing than if she were making her father some toast,
or bringing him a beer from the fridge. In fact Gilliam mentions
that those that complain about this scene wouldn't have any
objections to it if Jeliza was preparing an insulin injection
for her diabetic father. The truth is, the two would be very
similar to her - she is simply helping her father to get his
have to say that I've experienced some very bad parenting
first hand. I know of several lowlifes who treat their children
in just this way. One teenage mother I had the misfortune
of meeting used to give her three year old daughter a joint
and get her to puff on it as a party trick - hilarious! Well,
it was for the majority of other people that were there. They
treated it like most good parents do when they point to a
picture of an animal and their offspring make the noise that
that animal does. The little girl thought it was all good
fun because she was pleasing so many adults - surely in her
young innocent mind she was doing something clever.
is a very innocent movie and shows the world through the eyes
of an innocent child. And, if you approach this film by trying
to remember what it was like to be a child, I think you'll
take more from it than any other film you've ever seen. Blank
out all thought of pedophiles, child killers and the like
- things that as a nine year old boy I had no idea of - and
you'll have a much better understanding of what Gilliam was
trying to accomplish.
That innocent quality is something that we so quickly forget.
Children are not victims of everything around them! Remember
we were children once too, and we survived... children tend
to, hence them turning into adults and starting the cycle
all over again.
is a very resilient child. Both her parents die in this movie,
and the way she deals with it is not some fake Hollywood way
- in fact Gilliam has fun with this as Jeliza acts like a
Hollywood actress from the golden days of the movie industry
after cutting herself. A small cut to which she jokingly over
reacts in a cinematic style. Yet, when it comes to reality,
she reacts incredibly naturally. She is by far the strongest
character in the whole film.
are some controversial scenes with Dickens, the retarded 19
year old boy from the house up the road. But they are only
controversial when you take into consideration the medias'
ongoing pedophile and child killer shock stories that seem
to perpetuate the myth that for each child there is an army
of warped and twisted men who are waiting for their chance
to strike. There is that fear in us that Dickens still has
the body of a man and can quite easily harm Jeliza. The irony
here is that it is Jeliza that is in control of her relationship
with Dickens - she wants to know what a kiss is like, she
wants him to be her boyfriend. Neither her nor Dickens really
know what that all means, in the same way as children we didn't
four doll heads in the movie are also worth mentioning.
Sateen Lips, Glitter Gal, and Baby Blonde all represent aspects
of Jeliza-Rose's personality. And, the movie starts to go
deeper into Jeliza's madness as her lips stop moving but the
dolls continue talking.
far as the actors are concerned. Where do you start? All put
in strong performances, but Jodelle
Ferland (Jeliza) and Brendan Fletcher (Dickens) really are
unique. And Jeff Bridges really puts in one of his best ever
performances - which is incredible when you consider he plays
a corpse for 75% of his screen time.
include an audio commentary with Gilliam and writer Tony Grisoni;
Getting Gilliam: The Making of Tideland (43 mins behind
the scenes look at the movie where the featurette maker tries
to discover more about his boyhood idol); Interview With
Terry Gilliam (14:30 min); Interview With Producer
Jeremy Thomas (9:30 min interview that looks at Thomas's
work with Gilliam and other directors. It also had a misspelt
caption: "Indpendent Film" which is a bit embarrassing,
but made me chuckle); Q&A With Mitch Cullin & Terry
Gilliam (9:30 min); Deleted Scenes (6 min featurette
with commentary with Gilliam. Includes an interesting scene
that shows how Jeliza-Rose originally found the dolls heads);
Behind the Scenes Featurette (5 mins); Green Screen
(3 mins featurette that looks at how the underwater and rabbit
hole sequences were shot) a not very well hidden Easter Egg;
Theatrical Trailer; and trailers for other productions.
lot of people will really not get this movie the way it was
intended, which is their loss, and fuels the debate on whether
Gilliam is a misunderstood genius or just too intelligent
for his own good. You
can bet that the majority of people who dislike it are actually
projecting things that they don't like about themselves on
to the screen, or are nervous about aspects of themselves.
An example is the beautiful image of Jeliza as she puts on
make-up in the mirror. She looks a lot older and, as Gilliam
points out, a lot of men may feel uncomfortable at how attractive
they find her - she is a very pretty girl and does look older
than 18 in these scenes. This doesn't make them pedophiles.
Far from it. But it may worry them - she is only nine for
it plays with how we have been conditioned to think. I was
out shopping with my girlfriend recently and saw a lovely,
cute little girl who had her hair in bunches. My heart melted.
I turned to my girlfriend and said: "Ahh! Isn't she cute."
But I didn't say it too loud. It's not the sort of think that
is expected from a thirty-odd year old man - no matter how
innocent it's meant. It's the sort of comment that gets you
beaten up - which is insane. And that is what Gilliam is trying
to re-educate his audience with - a time when life was so
much more innocent. When you could leave your kids with the
neighbours, or let them sit on Santa's knee. Why should the
majority feel guarded the whole time because of a very small
the end of the day this is one of the most innocent and beautiful
of movies to have been made in recent years. The fact that
it comes from the mind of a 60+ year old man with daughters
of his own is proof, if any were needed, that inside us all
that small child is still very much alive.