Nomenclature 27b/6

Nomenclature 27b/6

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Unofficial Trilogy

A trilogy, whose sums of its parts are not connected by a traditional narrative structure of beginning, middle and end, but through a meta-narrative.

A narrative or narratives.

Unlike the postmodern interpreation of meta-narratives, where a grand design is yet to be realized, Unoffical Trilogies form one through a signifier.



It is mystery to why there is an inherent, human attractiveness towards ordering things into threes, much like the human penchant towards simplistic binaries.




This inherent need to connect things into forming sets of threes manifests itself within cinema, whether that be through the design of the auteur or by the anointment of the specatator.

A Village in Northwestern Iran.

French Flag

Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité.

Ice Cream.

Strawberry. Original. Mint.

The example of Unofficial Trilogy explored in this entry will be The Trilogy of the Imagination.

All directed by Terry Gilliam.

An avid user of Unofficial Trilogies.

Monty Python’s Holy Trinity:

Holy Grail – Life of Brian – The Meaning of Life

Americana Trilogy:

The Fisher King – 12 Monkeys – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas


The Signifier

The Imagination.

Using it to escape The Enlightenment ideals that humanity is of Rationality and Progress.

A criticism to the hyper-ordered society that comes from such ideals. A posthumanism.

The Ages of Man

Each of the Trilogy’s parts represent the three major acts of a man’s life.

Childhood – Adulthood – Elderhood

How is the hyper-rational, hyper-ordered world experinenced in these stages of life?

How does each stage use its Imagination to escape such a world?

"Toys," Mythologies, Roland Barthes















Time Bandits

An adult world stuck in the ideas that technology helps one control their own lives.

In actuality, the need to constantly consume technology allows it to control its users’ lives.

The main character projects his imagination unto his toys, mythological signifiers to be the idealized adult virtues of heroism, masculinity, strength. The mythologies are visited in the different time periods, where he various historical figures or the signified forms of his toys, who are supposed to be the idealized adults in his eyes.

The character learns the adult world is actually lacking of any personal fulfillment and insignificant relevant to the greater universe.



















Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell















In a hyper-ordered, Orwellian-esque world where the bureaucracy takes precedence over the individual, efficiency has led to the mundane adult life, that the main character is surrounded by. This is a world, whose infrastructure devoids itself from any personal responsibility, where the inhabitants have become jaded to the killing of innocent people.

The main character tries to escape this hyper-order through his imaginative daydreams. When trying to project these fantasies onto to reality, he learns the only means of survivng in this world are either confomity or insanity.

Dialectic of Enlightenment, Max Horkheimer & Theodor W. Adorno














The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Through so many adaptations of the 1785 book, Baron Münchhausen (Baron Prášil in Eastern Europe) has become a proverb for exaggeration. From being first adapted to cinema by Georges Méliès to being portayed alongside the Three Stooges, the character has been a frequent topic in film. Inspired by Karel Zeman’s adaptation, Gilliam’s adaptation sees the Baron in his older days in the midst of a battle between Reason and Imagination — the latter keeping, being the only thing escaping Death in his final days. It is only when this imagination becomes myth in his mind of child disciple, where he truly defeats Death and the escape of Rationalism becomes cyclical.


I am planning to have this entry take the form of a essay film, built through both clips and text.

Trying to decide between these two formats; should I use:

Three sections of three H5P slideshows with branching each represnting on of the three films.


One H5P video with interactive parts that jump around similar to the use of the map in Time Bandits?


  1. M Oginz

    Hi John. This looks great. I’m quite curious as to what each of these formal approaches would actually look like. The interactive video/map stands out to me.

  2. admin

    I am very interested by Western culture’s continual emphasis on trinities, trilogies, and other three-part schema. I would include not just the Christian Trinity, but also the Hegelian/Marxist idea of dialectics: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The idea of the Three Ages of “Man” (childhood, adulthood, elderly) appears in various historical contexts, too, maybe starting from The Riddle of the Sphinx in Oedipus Rex (another trilogy, btw).
    But if I understand your idea here, John, you want to question/challenge the typical linear idea of aging/maturity and of history. Gilliam’s films are often obsessed with time, and literally jump around in time in Time Bandits), but also in Twelve Monkeys, with its homage to La Jétée.
    So, I’m imagining a fair bit of jumping/looping among the films (and their time periods, almost like a timeline that twists like a Moebius strip). If you are playing seriously with the idea of aging, this would seem also to imply some disorganization of the chronology of childhood, adult, elderly–and of the order in which the films were made?
    I don’t want to complicate things too much, but it is possible to put both interactive videos and branching slideshows inside of what H5P calls presentations.

  3. M Salmassi

    You must be a fan of collage! From my perspective there is some overlap with The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen and Ashkan’s project. Imagination’s conceptions can create paths and windows to assist reason. It becomes a point of conflict when imagination tries to overpower reason or vice versa. There is also a triangulation aspect to the content of this site. It embellishes the theme of trilogies.

  4. A Smith

    The interactive video map grabs my interest the most, as well. I haven’t delved too much into Gilliam’s filmography, but I understand the gist of your theme/idea. Something that comes to mind is making connections to reality in how someone, in the three stages of human life, escape reality. I’m not sure how dated these films are in terms of relevant material, but there could be connections to be made.

  5. Behrang Garakani

    Like others, I’m a fan of interactive maps. Here’s one of my favorite out there. I’m surprised it’s mostly still operating after so many years!!

    Maybe you’ll find it inspirational.

    I’m curious about the branching of each stage or what you would map. It made me think of Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development. Each stage of development has two possible paths we can take from birth until old age. It might be useful to you.

  6. A Robusti

    Hello John!
    I found your topic really interesting, and I look forward to seeing the final work!
    For the format I believe that the branching solution with three section could work really well. Also, in History of Art there are lots of representations on the notion of aging that you may find useful, such as Gustav Klimt’s ‘The Three Ages of Woman’. Nice project and good luck!

  7. L Arango

    Hi John,

    I am looking forward to seeing the video essay. I like the idea of
    One H5P video with interactive parts.?

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