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By the late 1970s, Monty Python's resident animator and occasional performer, Terry Gilliam, was ready to direct a feature film on his own (he codirected Monty Python and the Holy Grail two years earlier). Returning to the medieval muck and monstrosities that served as a backdrop for Holy Grail, Gilliam chose a darker satire for this erratic but funny outing. The result was a witty, modernist fable about an unprepared hero (Michael Palin) pushed through a heroic journey by uncontrollable forces of destiny, propelling him into a duel with a fearsome, man-eating dragon called Jabberwock. Raunchy, irreverent, and borderline...