Terry Gilliam, 1970, explaining his stop-motion animation

Here is Terry Gilliam in 1970 explaining how he made the classic "fig leaf" stop-motion animation for Monty Python's Flying Circus, in a spare bedroom at his apartment. (via Dangerous Minds)


  1. A very well-made short film about his process. I love the sound effects he makes with his mouth, and the cat’s reaction. 

  2. Anybody here ever seen “Holy Flying Circus”?  A BBC dramatization from last year, about the controversy around “The Life Of Brian”, culminating in the nasty debate between Palin/Cleese and The Bishop Of Southwark/some Catholic moralist.

    Anyway, in the waiting room before the debate begins, the Pythons are already there, and in walks this HUGE, imposing man in full church attire.  Off the cut, the Terry Gilliam character blurts out loud “Now that’s one big motherfucking bishop”.  That was like a sledgehammer applied to my funny bone.  Brilliant stuff.

    1. >Anybody here ever seen “Holy Flying Circus”?

      Yes, a little strange at first but a real hoot when you get into it.
      Comparing it with the actual debate…
      you can see what a good job they did
      (particularly the Bishop of Southwark).

      1. Strange at first, sure, for me because it’s other people inhabiting faces I’ve known for decades and love dearly, but after a while the mind adapts and the disorientation vanishes.

  3. I have a master’s degree in this stuff and I still watched the whole thing as if I didn’t have a clue how it was done. I love you, mr Gilliam.

  4. This is indeed a greatly compelling piece, even though we all know this is how he did the animation – it was fascinating to watch him play it out and to see all the individual photo cut-outs and pieces of paper! And I’ve seen that animation many times but didn’t realize that was a real person (the censor) – I assume there’s a ton of that kind of stuff in the show in general that flies past me.

    Also – “you can’t find too many arms ripped off on discs” – love his approach to sound effects and it’s great that he mostly made them himself. His animations just wouldn’t have been the same without such great sound effects.

  5. Gilliam’s voice reminds me of that of Philip K. Dick, and oddly enough he seems to resemble PKD increasingly as he ages.

  6. I just double-checked IMDB, and apparently this is still hidden knowledge. Apologies if this is old news for Gilliam freaks.

    Anyway, there’s a 1964 nudist-camp film called “The  Monster of Camp Sunshine,” that features opening and closing credits animated by Terry Gilliam prior to his moving to the UK. (Something Weird released a DVD some years ago, but I don’t know about current availability.)

    It’s your typical low-budget 16 mm smut film for the most part (apart from the Gilliam animations and oddly ubiquitous 19th c. strongman photos), until you get to the last reel, which turns into glorious surrealism, reminiscent of the later Monkees’ Head. Given that most of the credits are obvious pseudonyms, I’ve often wondered whether Gilliam’s contribution extended beyond animating the credits. I suppose that it’s possible that Gilliam is distancing himself from the film, but that seems a bit priggish for him.

    Does anyone know more about Gilliam’s involvement with this old softcore porno?

Comments are closed.