Since The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is essentially dead in the water for the time being, Terry Gilliam will now focus his efforts on a vastly different and yet equally warped project – one that literally re-envisions the history of the world, titled 1884.

Gilliam will officially serve as a “creative adviser” on the film (think Chris Nolan and the Superman reboot), which is being directed by his longtime collaborator and digital animation specialist, Tim Ollive.

1884 is an $8 million production that presents an alternate version of 19th century Europe with a steam punk aesthetic – a world in which the movie itself was created in 1848 (some four decades prior to the actual invention of film… makes sense to us). Variety describes 1884 as “a tale of laughable imperialist derring-do and espionage,” where man has already reached the moon and England is populated by steam-powered vessels and flying vehicles.

Ollive and Gilliam will bring their off-kilter collaboration to life via the use of 2D and 3D (read: digital) animation, live-action puppets that have actors’ eyes and mouths superimposed over their CGI heads, and a mix of miniatures, graphics, and old-fashioned photography to create the backdrop of London, France, and other locales across Europe – all of which will be colored with sepia tones to as to further recreate the look of a silent flick from the late 19th century.

Curious as to what on Earth 1884 will look like? A four-minute preview for the film was shown recently at the 2010 Paris FX forum and can be watched below:

While Gilliam may not be at the helm of 1884, this preview alone feels like a “Best of” compilation of his best previous work; the sardonic wit of the voiceover narration recalls his Monty Python outings while the overall production design is as imaginative and strange as anything Gilliam has done before. The 1884 screenplay was penned by Ollive and his fellow graphic designer/longtime Gilliam collaborator Dennis de Groot – clearly these guys are all of a marvelously mad similar mindset.

Although 1884 is not exactly what one would call a project with breakout potential, Gilliam has a loyal cult following that will surely turn out to see any film that he’s creatively involved with. The project’s relatively small production cost could be easily recuperated, even if it’s never given a wide release in either the U.S. or most of the world.

What do you think of 1884 so far?

Source: Variety