Is there any filmmaker today who identifies more closely with Orson Welles than Terry Gilliam? I'm not talking about content so much, although both men have an unfinished Don Quixote on their resumes. Welles was, for the most part, concerned with old age, or at least bitter experience, while Gilliam's chief preoccupation consists of childish things and fairy tales. But when it comes to the business end of movies, they are remarkably similar. Both men possess a singular artistic vision and a particular way of seeing things, regardless of current trends. Both are capable of masterworks, and both have achieved them in one form or another, despite the callous meddling of the studios and the supreme ignorance of the critics and the public. In both cases, these filmmakers have turned out works that could have been so much more.
Consider Gilliam's previous film, The Brothers Grimm (2005). It has Gilliam's touch all over it, but it reeks of studio re-writes, test audiences, and willy-nilly, third party cutting. Though the two films can't really compare, Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) went through much the same process over sixty years earlier. But even when these filmmakers release a film that they more or less controlled, such as Gilliam's Brazil (1985) and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) or Welles' The Trial (1962) and F for Fake (1973), no one is ever quite ready for them.