There may be pirates in “Treasure Planet,” but with sailing ships capable of traveling through outer space and frequenting various planets, there’s a distinct fantastical air to Disney’s sci-fi swashbuckler. In a 2002 interview with IGN, co-director John Musker explained that the world-building in “Treasure Planet” was always a priority for them, as inspired by Terry Gilliam’s filmography:
“From the earliest go-round there was this kind of romantic archetypal image that we wanted, and we had to create a universe that supported that. So that’s why we didn’t say ‘It’s the future of this universe,’ because we wanted to have breathable atmospheres and no guys in bubble helmets. It had to be an alternate world –- we were influenced by Terry Gilliam and his fantasy worlds.“
Although Musker did not mention which of Gilliam’s films specifically served as inspiration, several come to mind. Whether it’s “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” or “12 Monkeys,” Gilliam’s long list of high-concept projects all toe the fine line between creating a dream-like reality and one that is more grounded and recognizable. Not only are the worlds created by Gilliam a good source of inspiration, but they still adhere to thematic ideas about our own world.