Miracle (of Flight) in Milan

Terry Gilliam’s MIRACLE OF FLIGHT is an early animation of his, pre-Python, in which his cut-out figures plunge to early deaths smothered in feathers or wielding cardboard wings. A little predictable at first, although the proportion of hand-drawn figures to art book cut-outs is slightly higher than usual. Then we get a gag recreated later in live action on Monty Python’s Flying Circus: a goggled aviator, majestically sailing through the air with his strap-on eagle wings, a rocky horizon scudding beneath him, until he’s abruptly flattened against a vast wall. Rotate 90° to reveal that the horizon was a sheer cliff face and the wall he’s hit is the ground.

Then a parable in which a king gathers together the finest scientists and philosophers in his land to solve the problem. His approach is to kick each of them off a mountain, on the assumption that one of them will be clever enough to invent flight on the way down.

Then Gilliam quickly shows us the invention of in-flight movies, stewardesses, airline tickets, and airport terminals. A representative passenger goes through baggage check-in and passport control, gradually approaching the gate, is instructed to board…

…and is kicked off the mountain.


6 Responses to “Miracle (of Flight) in Milan”

  1. The man seated with a book looks quite like Billy Graham.

  2. But I think it might be a young Gilliam himself.

  3. Gilliam’s credit sequence for Cry of the Banshee is rather nice, and is a great use of the creepy strangeness of his animation style.

  4. they’re showing it — just the credit sequence. I kind of think it’s too funny for the film. While his Python toons are scary (especially to me as a kid), his horror sequence is rather goofy.

    My private theory is that Cry of the Banshee is the same story as The Long Good Friday. It has the same ending, anyhow.

  5. Cry of the Banshee doesn’t feature anything quite so horrific as Charlie from Casualty accosting La Mirren with the line “I want ter lick yer orl ova”, that’s for sure!

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