There’s a lot to love about vintage Monty Python—dead parrots, silly walks, lumberjacks, killer rabbits—but Terry Gilliam’s magic touch with his signature cut-out animations really gave the group a goofball creative edge. In this clip from the early 1970s, a fresh-faced Gilliam (with an incredible ‘do) describes his no-tech approach to the process.
“Maximum effect from minimum work” is the mantra here. Gilliam gathers up found materials like magazines and old family photos and, with the eye of an artistic genius, sees a new life for the images; taken out of their original context, perfume bottles in a print ad can become an alien landscape, and the Duke of Wellington’s face “fits very nicely” over the body of an old woman pictured in the Sunday supplement. “Chop out what you want,” he says, and go from there.
Storyboarding is minimal—basic line drawings and sound effects and timing—so there’s still tons of room for developing ideas once the camera gets clicking, and the tools needed are surprisingly few.
Even if you have no plans to wield scissors and start snipping, this is a must-watch for, well… everyone. It’s one of the best, most enjoyable insights into honest-to-goodness natural talent that I think I’ve ever seen, and his enthusiasm for sharing his techniques is charming as hell.
The end results prove that perfection is a relative term, because while these clips might not be the slickest you’ll ever see, they’re so, so, so damn good.