The Fisher King

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

Going to New Jersey to catch a movie was always a sweet escape for this viewer. It’s for the most part a decent crowd that’s eager for a film and there’s always something to look forward to and the popcorn comes out just right. There was one such place that this viewer now goes past on the Garden State Parkway with it’s recent closing that for one such time in 1991, a film released in September came out for the first day not knowing what to expect with almost no trailer but just one name that drew this viewer in regardless of all the other names: Terry Gilliam. A friend and I would have endless Python chats and laugh ourselves silly as to which sketch was funnier but one thing always rang true and that we knew with any project involving Terry Gilliam, anything is possible. So entering with the cast minusing any Python members, we sat down on the first night that Friday of the tale of two men from different walks of life reaching out for each other in a way they never dreamed possible in New York called The Fisher King.

Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) is a rising radio shock jock, with the big plans, that talks the talk and tells it like it is to callers on a daily basis. Out of one such caller comes a odd man named Edwin. At first Jack takes it lightly like any other caller and offers advice to leave off on. The day seems to go fine until during one dancing mood Jack pops on a television with his face on there and finds out that the very caller he left off on decided to go on a shooting spree. As a result this put a three year dent into Jack’s big plans losing the radio show and is losing the will to live even with a different girl and a different set of rules. He looks to end it all one night when a few rough characters come along and beat Jack up. This almost seals his doom until a man in the shadows (Robin Williams) and his merry men saves Jack’s life and take him along in the shadows of a weird, dirty, yet imaginitive world. What seems to be a random act of kindness from a street dweller becomes a little more when Jack starts to realize they have a connection. It’s this that draws Jack to do good for this man with the name Parry.

To give any more away would spoil this unique yet lovely trip of a film. From the great performances by all to the very end when it all comes together for our two main characters, there’s something in between that still amazes. There’s one particular scene (for those who have seen it, you know which one) that with the great vision that Terry Gilliam has, I don’t usually put the term movie magic to associate a part of a film because it’s a hard thing to accomplish, but in this film in that one scene that has silent movie inspiration written all over it, it’s there and it’s hard not to love it.

Jeff Bridges plays Jack as a self loving disc jockey that hates the world and his only safe haven is behind that mic and its in that one throw away moment that he sees life from the other side and realizes he can do good for someone. Robin Williams plays Parry, a wildly imaginitive homeless man who sees the good in life from a perspective that Jack has never seen. Yet with all the low in the world, Jack gets drawn in and despite Parry’s eccentricities feels that the good he does for Parry can inspire some greater love for his girlfriend as well (played beautifully by Mercedes Ruehl) who’s had to put up with his downer routine after the fallout of his radio gig and starts to see a change in her man that she likes. Rounding out this fine cast is Amanda Plummer as Lydia, who has her bit of quirks but is the object of affection for Parry and nothing can spell acting better than all of the scenes involving Plummer and Williams.

Nothing would be complete aside from the terrific script and the score and the sets that retain the film’s artistic beauty than with the direction of Gilliam taking another visionary step to show that even some good can make people more productive in their imagination and positive and no matter how the world can be a down place, there’s still some beauty that can be seen in between.

From the first time, this viewer didn’t know what to expect but it’s a film to stick with its entire running time to appreciate start to finish with no pauses in between. It may take you a few viewings to really get the movie but this viewer got it right away and since then proud to say The Fisher King is a crowning achievement in a select bunch that I view 3 times a year at random times.

Video: How does it look?

The Fisher King is presented on DVD in the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen with many positive results. Recalling from a laserdisc copy, the film suffered through some hazy parts visually and kind of stayed brownish in the color scheme for the majority of the film. In this version however, the colors are balanced just right with very little bleeding or saturation and New York never looked better in all different parts during this feature and in this transfer. A very good job!

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 2 Channel Dolby Surround track captures the music with the right blend of effects and dialogue without any muteness of the sound. With every score piece or sound effect, the channels capture them at the right places and all benefit throughout the entire film hitting all the right notes and not suffering from any hisses or pops. Although the track is not perfect, it comes pretty damn close. This disc also has English subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sadly, this is where the happy parade ends for this DVD for the only extras besides the good insert are trailers to Jumanji, Awakenings, The Mirror Has Two Faces and Starman. None of the trailers for The Fisher King are featured here, but on the Criterion Laserdisc which also had a commentary track by Gilliam and some deleted scenes as well. Here’s hoping one day this title can be properly revisited to include those features (which this viewer can tell you are solid)

Despite the lack of extras, the picture and audio quality remain superlative.

In conclusion, The Fisher King with all it’s various points of emotion touches the heart, makes the viewer laugh at unexpected times and gives a true cinematic potpourri filled with a genuine love that seperates itself from the pack and straight to the head of the class with flying colors.

Disc Scores

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