Watch a Surreal New Short From Terry Gilliam

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 7 2013 11:30 AM

Watch a Surreal New Short From Terry Gilliam

Still from The Wholly Family on Vimeo.
Still from The Wholly Family on Vimeo.

Terry Gilliam’s latest short film is sponsored by a pasta. When the Italian pasta company Garofalo approached the director of Brazil and 12 Monkeys to make a short film, Gilliam says the decision was easy as spaghetti. The pasta company’s only conditions were that the film take place in Naples and that nobody die. The result was The Wholly Family, a short film that toured Europe over the last year or so, winning best short film at the European Film Awards, and eventually, as IndieWire points out, found its way online.

The Wholly Family won’t go down as Gilliam’s masterwork, but over its approximately 20-minute runtime it serves up more than enough bizarre dream imagery to hold fans over. The premise is fairly simple—it follows the one family’s tumultuous vacation through Naples—but after the son in the family steals one of the city’s signature Pulcinella dolls, things get very weird (and a little creepy) very quickly.

What ensues is a surrealist mélange of Italian stereotypes, the Christmas nativity, and something between A Christmas Carol and Where the Wild Things Are. (Pasta does make an appearance, but only when being shoveled ghoulishly down the hero’s throat.) It’s the kind of work that could only have come fresh from Gilliam’s imaginarium. Buon appetito.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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