"I keep hearing that 'Brazil' is taught in film schools," says the 55-year-old filmmaker. "I'd love to go to one of those classes and see what's being taught. . . . When I started making films, there were auteurs out there and I was always intimidated by the fact that theyseemed to know everything. Of course, they didn't. Now, I have this terrible feeling that 'Brazil' is being turned into one of these classics. It's all nonsense."
Nevertheless, the irreverence that made Gilliam a feisty underdog against Universal and a champion for artists rights 10 years ago remains. The mention of mainstream Hollywood product--the notion, for instance, that "12 Monkeys" would have been much easier viewing had it been made by a conventional director--sets him off.
"I hate the assumption that people don't want to think, that people just want to be entertained," he says. "Now, there's no question that most people probably do just want to be entertained. But there are an awful lot of others who want something different. Unless people make these films to find out what they want, nothing changes."
Gilliam was to appear this weekend at a retrospective of his work at the American Museum of the Moving Image in New York. The only film bearing his name that will not be shown is the "Sheinberg version" of "Brazil," the one being prepared by Universal editors when the Los Angeles critics pulled the rug out from under them.