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Miracle of Flight (1974)

animation, comedy
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Written and directed by Terry Gilliam.

Terry Gilliam, who began his career as a cartoonist, was part of the Monty Python team and his animations characterised the shows, appearing as vignettes in between sketches. The image of a huge foot coming down to crush everything is a well-known one, and typical of the surrealist style and content of many of these wonderful animated pieces.

Miracle of Flight, produced in 1974, is about humans striving for the ability to fly like birds (or, indeed, a Boeing 707) and embarking on numerous unsuccessful attempts to get, and remain airborne using all manner of imaginative methods, including tar and bird feathers, cliffs, a bird costume and many more.

Minneapolis-born  Gilliam went on to direct several feature films including Brazil in 1985, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in 1988, Twelve Monkeys in 1995 and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2009. Like his animated work, his films often have fantastical, highly imaginative themes and styles.

In 1999, Gilliam attempted to realise a long-held ambition to make a film about Don Quixote (The Man Who Killed Don Quixote), starring Johnny Depp, but production was beset by disaster included the star getting a hernia, flooding causing expensive damage to sets and filming equipment, and various other mishaps. All was not, however, in vain – archive footage from the doomed production was used to make the fascinating documentary Lost In La Mancha.