Terry Gilliam ambitiously attempts to turn Lewis Carrol’s famous nonsense poem (of Alice Through the Looking Glass fame) into a feature film, with not insubstantial embellishment.


The film stars Michael Palin as a beamish boy in medieval England who leaves his hometown to find work and win over the woman of his dreams. But there are reports of a strange monster with eyes of flame in the tulgy wood beyond the city walls.

Gilliam is a natural fit for this story, given his love of bizarre fantasy and his penchant for world building. In spite of this being his directorial debut he shows the same ability to construct a rich and textured society that he would later exhibit in Brazil, and includes some of the mimsiest borogroves ever put to film.

But the story itself is not particularly engaging, and the humour largely falls flat. Fans of the poem will begrudge the absence of the jub jub bird and shun the frumious bandersnatch.

Jabberwocky is a sign of the future directorial greatness of Gilliam, but as an adaptation of Lewis Carrol’s work it proves that some things are best left to the imagination.

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