Fulvue Drive-In.com
Current Reviews
In Stores Soon
In Stores Now
DVD Reviews, SACD Reviews Essays Interviews Contact Us Meet the Staff
An Explanation of Our Rating System Search  
Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Fantasy > Children > Tideland (2006/THINKFilm 2-Disc Collector’s Edition/DVD-Video)

Tideland (2006/THINKFilm 2-Disc Collector's Edition/DVD-Video)

Picture: C+ Sound: B- Extras: C+ Film: C+

After The Brothers Grimm (reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) turned out to be one of director Terry Gilliam's most mixed-up commercial projects, Tideland has turned out to be one of his most bizarre independent releases. It bombed, most critics hated it, no one went to see it and none of his admirers went out of their way to defend it. It seems that the audience that embraces the likes of Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (elsewhere on this site) more often than 12 Monkeys (also elsewhere on this site, soon an Arrow Blu-ray) or even Brazil (see out coverage of the Criterion Blu-ray) is more fickle than expected. (Arrow just reissued this out of print film on Blu-ray).

Such rainy day fans have been so unsupportive that Gilliam reportedly wore a 'will work for...' sign after this film bombed. DVD is now giving his latest film Tideland a second chance and it is likely to get some more audience, but is it a good film? Well, he has made much worse and it is all very ambitious, but there are two problems the film runs into that caused its negative reception that are obvious now that this critic has seen it.

One is the battle to define innocence. The other is his dilemma of making a film that is readerly versus writerly. In the innocence case, he is juxtaposed to the Spielberg/Lucas aesthetic where childhood is clean cut, simple and somehow protected by a world of Capitalist commodity. For Gilliam, it is about experiencing the world as childlike versus childish, but this film has a female young lady complicating matters as to whether she is a surrogate for him or not. He clarifies this in the intro here, but that still does not help.

She is with two drug-using burnout parents overexposed to the bad things in the world to the point where she must retreat into her own world, yet it too is a dark one and if this had been handled by a less talented director, would have been outright exploitive. As it stands, it becomes more frustrating and annoying as her run-on fantasy and talking (writerly) collides more than her imagined trains with the storyline (readerly) of being stuck with two bad parents.

If he is rejecting Spielberg/Lucas, he is also not offering his full alternate look at innocence and children. In addition, any aspects of the actual Fantasy genre are auxiliary to the main concern of the young lady and her fantasy world, as the 'reality' story is more pending here. Than there is his Fear & Loathing approach of living the young lady's experience, which is not only too similar to his past films, but without them kills suspension of disbelief and is further complicated by he and her being of opposite genders without directly addressing that issue.

The doll heads keeping her company is like Kubrick's The Shining (1980) taking itself too seriously, while Gilliam has put all of it too much in a corner where only he knows what he is talking about for the film to ultimately work. Jodelle Ferland is very good as the young lady, while the supporting cast that includes the underrated Brendan Fletcher, Janet McTeer, Jennifer Tilly and Jeff Bridges helps make this all more watchable, but cannot save the film.

Ironically, a film has come out at the same time that is very similar that combines the concerns of a young lady with real life, childhood and innocence that is a hit and is getting critical acclaim. That is Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, which is on its was to becoming a minor classic, influenced by Victor Erice's 1973 debut The Spirit Of The Beehive to some extent. Gilliam is as savvy when he does not get caught up in issues, which is why Tideland is all the more disappointing. It should be on the tongues of those celebrating Pan's Labyrinth the way The Prestige (issued in 4K recently, but hard to find) and The Illusionist are right now. We'll see if this DVD changes that.

NOTE: Our copy was a final press copy with Gilliam's proper aspect ratio, but it turns out some copies came out in 1.78 X 1 cutting the frame who knows how. Though the theatrical version was 2.35 X 1, Gilliam submitted a 2.25 X 1 framing. THINKFilm issued a correct 2.25 version after this originally posted March 2007.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.25 X 1 image is on the soft side and whether that is the transfer, digital manipulation of the film or both, it is softer than it should be. Nicola Pecorini's cinematography is distinct in the realm of Gilliam's work. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is better, with health surrounds only limited by the compression of the format. Extras include trailers, Gilliam intro and Gilliam/co-screenwriter Tony Grisoni audio commentary on DVD 1 and deleted scenes with optional Gilliam commentary, a making of featurette, green screen piece with Gilliam commentary, theatrical trailer, Gilliam interview, Producer Jeremy Thomas interview, and Vincenzo Natali's Getting Gilliam film with Gilliam/Natali commentary.

Well, no one can say this was not an ambitious undertaking, which is why we should always value Gilliam as a filmmaker even when we do not always like his work. Here's a new alternate take on the film, now on Blu-ray from Arrow...


- Nicholas Sheffo


 Copyright © MMIII through MMX fulvuedrive-in.com