Lost In La Mancha

Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I'm really upset that Terry Gilliam's movie, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, never got made. It would have been hilarious. But back to Lost in La Mancha. How to describe it? Let's let IMDb.com do that for me, as the following description seems to sum it up quite well:

In August 2000, master filmmaker Terry Gilliam finally got his oppurtunity to create his dream film he laboured for a decade, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Assembling his film crew, he prepares his production in what promises to be the biggest budgeted feature film using only European financing, although it is meagre compared to Hollywood standards. However for all his creativity and enthusiasm, the film is immediately plagued with an improbable series of disasters ranging from scheduling conflicts, budget cuts, studio and location problems and worse that threaten to doom the film.

There you go. The movie, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, was not merely a retelling of DQ. He wanted to take the basic story and mix it up, Gilliam-style. A young man (Johnny Depp) named Toby is somehow transported back to 17th Century Spain where Quixote mistakes him for his trusty squire Sancho Panzo. Much hilarity ensues as Toby tries to figure out just what the heck is happening.

I can't say that I loved this documentary but I did enjoy it. While it would have been interesting to learn more about the movie that never got made, it gives the uninitiated a great insight into how movies are made, financed and the problems associated with them. Director Gilliam had a terrible time fighting the forces of nature (including a rain storm that turned into a mini-flood), actors' schedules, injuries and the dreaded insurance companies. It was evident early on, however, that the film was going to suffer from Gilliam's dreaded Munchausen Curse (a movie, by the way, that I loved although it suffered greatly at the box office).

As I mentioned, I think Gilliam's film would have been amazing. The few scenes they were actually able to shoot looked fantastic. Johnny Depp as Toby was hilarious. He is definately a standout amongst most of the actors of his generation that are considered "big stars" these days (don't get me started on the next generation of "young hollywood"). The most incredible thing for me though was the casting of French actor, Jean Rochefort, as the Man of La Mancha himself, Don Quixote. It was though Gilliam had crawled into my head, rooted around in all the nooks and crannies to try and find my vision of what Quixote looked like as I read the book and then cloned Rochefort from that information. I had to stop the movie at one point because it freaked me out just a smidge. Sadly, it was Rochefort's health concerns that put the final nail in Don Quixote's coffin.

Would the Captain recommend it? Yes, but with a caveat. Definately recommended if you're a big Terry Gilliam fan. Also, if you're a DQ fanatic...give it a go. If you're looking for shots of Johnny Depp looking sexy - pass. He only appears briefly in a few scenes. Not necessarily a must see but if you're interested in becoming a director, this might make you think twice.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

He does look Quixotish, doesn't he?

kelly said...

KAren...hows the marathon training going?..need any words of encoragement?

Gardenia said...

If Depp buys in, it has to be superb. Thanks for the review!!!!

Sheamus the... said...

i am going to need you to send me your address again...my email account exploded!

Red said...

I enjoyed this film very much, and my heart went out to Terry Gilliam for all the stuff that plagued his DQ project. Jean Richefort is an amazing actor, though. Have you see The Hairdresser's Husband or L'Homme du TRain? Both awesome -- awesome, I tell you!

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