Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
They Might Be Giants (movie)
|They Might Be Giants|
|Released||June 9, 1971 (USA)|
|Total gross (USA)||?|
|Aspect ratio||1.85 : 1|
|James Kendrick||3 stars out of 5||link|
Justin Playfair (Scott) is a millionaire who retreats into fantasy after the death of his wife, imagining himself to be Sherlock Holmes, the legendary fictional detective. Complete with a deer hunter's cap, smoking pipe and violin, he spends his days in a self-constructed criminal laboratory , constantly paranoid of plots hatched by his (that is, Holmes') arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty.
When his brother (Lester Rawlins ) places Justin under observation in a mental institution, and the brother conspires with one of Playfair's former business associates in an attempt to get power of attorney, Justin draws the attention of Dr. Mildred Watson (Woodward), a psychiatrist who is fascinated by his case. After Justin demonstrates a knack for Holmesian deduction, the institution releases him, and Watson meets up with him at his home. Playfair is initially dismissive of Watson's attempts at psychoanalyzing him, but when he hears her name, he enthusiastically incorporates her into his life as Dr. Watson to his Holmes.
The duo then begin an enigmatic quest for "Moriarty", with Playfair/Holmes following all manner of bizarre and (to Watson) unintelligible clues, growing closer to each other in the process.
The title is an indirect reference to Don Quixote's famous exploit of attacking windmills, believing them to be "monstrous giants". Despite the protest of his aid Sancho Panza and being soundly defeated at the hands of the "giants" (that is, being tossed away by a mill's sail after getting his lance caught up in it), Quixote maintains the belief that the mills are not mills but giants. In reference to this, Playfair argues:
Of course, he carried it a bit too far. He thought that every windmill was a giant. That's insane. But, thinking that they might be... Well, all the best minds used to think the world was flat. But, what if it isn't? It might be round. And bread mold might be medicine. If we never looked at things and thought of what they might be, why, we'd all still be out there in the tall grass with the apes.
It is also worth observing that the relationship between Playfair and Watson is very much like that between Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, with one appearing delusional in following his inscrutable motives, and the other seeing clearly, but following the "visionary" out of concern, and later implicit friendship. The relationship between Playfair and Watson takes this a step further by blossoming into a romance.
The film opened to mixed reviews. Leonard Maltin was a notable critic to hold it in good esteem.
The band They Might Be Giants named itself after this movie.
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