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The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983)

  Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Links: The Crimson Permanent Assurance on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Short

This movie gets: 6.67 (3 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 118th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

"Absolut Gilliam" - a review by mino

I think there's a pretty fair case for arguing that Terry Gilliam is one of the greatest directors alive, even with his comparatively low output taken into consideration. Many of his films have been commercial flops, and his consistent bad luck in matters of filmmaking is fairly well-documented, sure, but what he actually manages to produce is, without a shadow of a doubt, unmitigated brilliance. 12 Monkeys (1995), for example, was more or less an instant classic upon release. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), while largely critically panned, sticks in my mind as a truly awe-inspiring rendition of a classic book. Add in all his other works, and it's pretty hard not to believe that Gilliam is an absolute genius.

The Crimson Permanent Assurance is not a work of genius.

It is, however, pretty damn good.

CPA (ha!) is a short film bolted onto the start of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983), for (it has to be said) no real reason, other than because they could. It details the mutiny of a bunch of lowly (and elderly) accountants against their downsizing masters, and their efforts to break free from their little corporate world (literally). In a way, CPA is kind of a one-joke film (imagine if an accounting business was like a pirate ship!), but that's all you really need from it anyway: a funny, if not wildly hilarious, plot, a couple of good visual gags, and big dollops of both of Gilliam's twin trademarks: surrealism and an absolutely amazing visual appeal.

While CPA obviously is very low-rent compared to Gilliam's other works, his incredible eye for what looks good on screen is obvious. For a short that many other directors would have just made, with scant regard for looks, Gilliam pours a lot of effort into making even this pointless little piece look great — definitely foreshadowing what was yet to come at the height of his career, with films like 12 Monkeys (the general theme of fighting mindless bureaucracy, too, is obviously going to be familiar to fans of Gilliam's work, via Brazil (1985)).

Normally, I consider how good a film looks to be of secondary importance at best: it's hard not to see the parallels between this work and Gilliam's later films, though, and Gilliam is one director who can make the look of a film matter, bless him.

mino gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 15 Jan 2004

"Assuredly funny" - a review by pearly

I've watched Monty Python movies for almost as long as I've been alive. Some of them, I've watched more than others, but all of them have been enjoyed by me numerous times over the years. But I can probably be forgiven for not "getting" this movie when I first saw it. I was, after all, only in grade one when it was released.

My brother and I always used to fast-forward right past this short-film-before-the-feature, ever onward toward Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). In more recent times though, with a newfound love for the most impressive work done by Terry Gilliam, I can see this little gem for what it is.

Gilliam's stuff is always funny, but it's often not as overtly funny as, say, Eric Idle's. With The Crimson Permanent Assurance, we see a Terry Gilliam film mixed up with a Monty Python film - it's not really one or the other, it's both, chucked into a blender and put on at the high setting for thirty seconds or so.

The material ages very well - it's still as relevant today as it was back in 1983 - and, the exciting and unique imagery created by Gilliam, along with the humour, make it a great little watch for the grown-up Python fan.

And, of course, it's worth watching it rather than skipping it, because then when the characters from it come and invade the feature film, you'll know who they are and what the hell they're doing there.

pearly gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Sun 19 Oct 2003

Movie review statistics

Ratings given without reviews:

Number of reviews: 2
Number of ratings: 3
Average rating: 6.67
Lowest rating: 5 (by em_fiction)
Highest rating: 8 (by pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. This short is my absolute favorite part of the Meaning of Life.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Ankh on Mon 23 Feb 2004 13:36 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 10.00 (1 rating)

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