The Fisher King was one of Terry Gilliam’s greatest filming masterpieces of all time. There were many key movie elements used that all somehow led to or showed signs of the overall thematic issue of the film. The clear message of this film is forgiveness and grace. Different significant motifs and odd filming techniques are some important filming elements have to do with the overall theme. The Holy Grail is mentioned very frequently throughout the film, and quickly becomes a significant motif to the film. The central themes of the film, playing on the grail motif, is grace and forgiveness.
Jack’s signature line in his potential sitcom is “forgive me,” which he is constantly repeating but can’t get right. One of the main thematic issues or “themes” of the movie was to portray the message of forgiveness. As for the thematic issue of religious grace, there is a good explanation for that, too. In the story, Parry is seeking the Holy Grail. In actual theology, the Holy Grail held the wine at the Last Supper and, at the crucifixion, its religious equivalent, the blood of Christ, which is said to be the very source of grace and forgiveness.
Another significant motif in The Fisher King is the reoccurring image of the red knight. This hallucination that Parry sees around New York seems to represent Parry’s fears from both his former life, his time in the mental institution and his current life as a homeless dreamer on the street, all of which send him into a coma (besides the obvious beatings). The red knight could also represent the image of Parry’s wife dying in front of him. She was shot in the back of the head with a shotgun while facing him, causing her blood to spray all over him.
One of the largest and most important motifs in the film is the image and mentioning of the common story of Pinocchio. Pinocchio is compared to Jack, and sometimes Parry as well. The comparison is used in a way where these two main characters become “real”. As for Jack, he gains real human emotions and actually comes closer to becoming a real human being as the story progresses. The things that Jack endures when he is with Parry makes him more human. AS for Parry, there is the scene where he and Lydia are outside of her apartment and Lydia says, “your real”.
This is a reference to the story of Pinocchio, where Pinocchio becomes an actual “real boy”. There is also the concept of lying, which leads back to the story of Pinocchio. In the beginning of the story, Jacks life consists of selfishness and lies. He is not “real”, as is Pinocchio when he lies. Many different peculiar filming techniques are used in the film The Fisher King. Odd angles are used to make the viewer become slightly confused, which matches the feeling of the particular scene.
This shot is used in one of the first important scenes, where Jack wakes up in Parry’s basement home. The angle and movement of the camera make it seem as if it is hard to distinguish between reality and illusion. The viewer cannot tell if the scene is real or one of Jack’s dreams. Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King was a brilliant film showing the real message of forgiveness. Directing skills and movie motifs are two significant elements that make this movie portray the real thematic issue of loving and forgiveness.