The Fisher King ★★★★

There are two things that really stick out to me about this film. The first is its view of Old Hollywood through a dutch angle. The amoral upper-class schmuck laid low and taught how to care, the bright-eyed naif learning how to navigate society. They help each other get to where they need to be, and how to love once they're there. It's an old romantic drama, or a screwball without the comedy, or a Frank Capra picture dipped in poison.

The other thing that strikes me is the strong use of form to create meaning. Terry Gilliam is perhaps best known for his use of wide angle lenses. Very wide. 11mm, even. He likes to use them for close-ups, to put the audience in a distorted, unsettling place, but a place that's deeply subjective and surprisingly human. Everyone's features and movements are exaggerated, to the point where you can feel the emotions and thoughts behind them. For radio shock jock Jack Lucas, though, Gilliam starts with a different approach. He uses his preferred lenses, but from much further back. There's no distortion. (No static at all.) He's the center of the frame, the center of attention. The king in his throne room. The camera revolves around him.

The shot is wide, though, and mostly high above. The gaze of the camera dwarfs him, isolates him. (The eye of god.) The walls are painted with shadows that look less like a throne room and more like a jail cell.

It's only after he starts to feel the guilt that we see him in the way we see the rest of Gilliam's characters. Human. Capable of redemption.