The first thing you have to know is that Tideland is a movie about a teenage girl named Trip, who is sent off to live with her father in a cabin in the woods with her older brother. There she learns that her father is an escaped inmate from a mental institution, and that her mother was put in an institution before she could tell her children about their father’s existence. Trip is quickly drawn into her father’s world and learns that her mother was not crazy at all and that her father is still very much alive.

The last couple of years have seen a trend in Blu-ray releases entailing the inclusion of some kind of bonus content. Most of these extra features are included as a package with the film on the disc, but every now and then a label or distributor will take a different route and offer some form of bonus material separate from the film. Tideland is an example of this, since Arrow Video has gone the route of releasing this film on Blu-ray with a special bonus disc.

In short, this is a film about a girl named Jane. After growing up all of her life in a small town, she escapes to a new life in the big city. (At least, that’s what it feels like.) But it’s not long before she’s drawn back into the world she left behind, and the life that she thought she had left behind for good. Don’t expect much in terms of plot, as this isn’t a film that worries much about telling a story. It’s all about the atmosphere, the atmosphere and the atmosphere. And, hell, if you can’t see that’s what this is all about, then I guess you can’t see it.



Tideland is a beautiful, though hallucinogenic, experience from one-of-a-kind director Terry Gilliam that continuously electrifies you and puts you in the hot box of discomfort with its brutality and in-your-face approach to childhood trauma.


After her parents abandon her and leave her to fend for herself on a large area of property, a young girl with a vivid imagination struggles with some very serious problems.



Jeliza-Rose (a bewitching Jodelle Ferland) is nine years old and lives with parents that mistreat and/or abuse her: Her mother (Jennifer Tilly) is a foul-mouthed chain-smoking drug addict, and her father (Jeff Bridges) is a heroin addict musician, and Jeliza has been trained how to give heroin to both of her parents. When her mother has an overdose and dies, her father packs her up and takes her on a road journey to the family farm she never knew they possessed — a vast piece of land someplace in Texas. The home is a dilapidated ruin when they arrive, and her father overdoses on heroin seconds after stepping through the doors, but Jeliza never figures it out. She simply thinks he’s off dreaming, so she’ll be left with her imagination and her doll heads for the next several weeks… and her father’s decaying body She meets her dangerously eccentric neighbors, a one-eyed weirdo woman terrified of bees (played by Janet McTeer) and her half-retarded mentally damaged brother Dickens (Brendan Fletcher in a challenging performance), both of whom are always on the verge of violent gestures with all their social graces. Jeliza is a child forced into their strange world of make-believe and gruesome mummification procedures (their mother and later Jeliza’s father become zipped husks pumped with of preservatives), but she survives. Over the course of weeks (months?) Jeliza comes dangerously close to having sexual intercourse with Dickens, as well as the end-all-be-all crescendo of the end of the world, which comes crashing down all around her as the adjacent railway lines usher in a cataclysmic event that may alter everything.


Tideland is a beautiful, though hallucinogenic, experience from one-of-a-kind director Terry Gilliam that continuously electrifies you and puts you in the hot box of discomfort with its brutality and in-your-face approach to childhood trauma. It would be a miracle if the film’s little girl character made it to adulthood without developing a significant amount of mental illness as a result of her ordeals, but that’s the beautiful part of being innocent and somehow maintaining innocence through terrible life experiences: there is grace and a way through it all. I watched this in theaters when it first came out and disliked it, but seeing it again for this review really opened up my airways and I loved it. Gilliam has a hit-or-miss relationship with me, but I always – always – admire his attempts because they are so distinctively his.


Arrow Video released Tideland on Blu-ray, including an audio commentary by Gilliam and original on-set interviews with the actors, as well as a 45-minute making-of documentary, B-roll material, and more. In high definition, the film looks amazing. Arrow’s first season is fantastic.


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