Date of first viewing: Saturday, June 16, 2007

Location: Home
Format: DVD

Once again I find myself giving 5 stars to a movie most people hated. Yes, this film is over the top, but so are all fairy tales, aren't they? We tell kids stories of witches who capture little children and bake them in the oven, but since stories like that happen "a long time ago in a kingdom far, far away" we don't find them as unsettling as this modern-day fairy tale. To those who thought the events were too horrific for a child actor to depict, I ask exactly what did you see that was so horrible? No one was murdered; the deaths were accidental or caused by the characters' own negligence. No one had sex with a child, although many seem to be interpreting a couple of kissing scenes with the retarded Dickens as pedophilia. I found Pan's Labyrinth (which I also loved) to be way more violent and disturbing, yet most folks raved about that one.

In fact, rather than being about death and violence, I found the main theme of Tideland to be all the ways that humans attempt to *escape* the reality of death, whether through heroin vacations or chocolate or taxidermy or vivid imaginary worlds. The real violence in Tideland doesn't occur until the very end of the film, when Gilliam visually depicts the end of the child's innocence the moment she sees that the wailing character in the darkness is not the triumphant dance of her friend but the agonized stagger of a stranger blinded by her friend's actions.

I think viewers expected a film like Pan's Labyrinth in which the lines between harsh reality and imaginary escape are clearly delineated. But in Tideland, the whole world is a freakish fairy tale, and Terry Gilliam is the perfect guy to tell it.

Oh, and one more thing. To all those who were bothered that the little girl was obviously *acting*, isn't that the point? From personal experience, as a child who had a vivid imagination, the only times I wasn't acting were when I was asleep.


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