- It is impossible to talk about Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote without talking about the troubled (an understatement) production backstory. It is maybe the most storied production in cinema history. The Day the Clown Cried which has never seen the light of day from Jerry Lewis is another— we finally have The Other Side of the Wind from Welles—and Jodorowsky’s Dune was never complete. Anyways, as far back as 2002 there was a documentary about the failed attempt to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and that was called Lost in La Mancha. In fact, this film starts with the opening title saying “after 25 years in the making and umaking”
- With that as a bit of context- and with Gilliam’s (and star Adam Driver’s) talents- this film can’t be viewed as anything but a disappointment. I would’ve love to have seen the film made in 2000 when Gilliam was closer to his peak (and apparently he had double his budget for this)—I think Depp (in 2000) would’ve been better suited as well (as much as I like Driver)
- Driver plays “Toby”- a talented film director—he’s really just ego embodied- similar to Jeff Bridges’ character in The Fisher King. That makes Jonathan Pryce’s Don Quixote the Robin Wililams character, he’s delusional – yet he’s the one set to cure Toby (who suffers from the real sickness in Gilliam’s world)
Driver plays “Toby”- a talented film director—he’s really just ego embodied- similar to Jeff Bridges’ character in The Fisher King
- It is fascinating- the little student film in black and white looks like Welles’ Chimes at Midnight with the sharp angles shot in Spain—Gilliam has always been a Welles acolyte (from the angles to the anti-establishment production issues starving artist stuff) and Welles of course tried to shoot Don Quiote in the 1950’s I believe and it is one of his many unfinished projects
the final image from Gilliam’s long-awaited passion project– film starts with the opening title saying “after 25 years in the making and umaking”
- Largely shot on location in Spain- some great shot of the dunes and ruins at 79 minutes
- At the 81 minute mark Driver’s Toby wakes up with gold on his eyes, see’s the light (a gorgeous shot) – “it’s not real” (in the text) and pulls washers out of his pocket instead of money — there’s a transformation there. The film picks up momentum for the remining 45-50 minutes (largely at Mishkin’s costume party)— sadly it is a very quiet first hour stylistically – I’d spend little to no time arguing if someone argued this shouldn’t be in the archives
At the 81 minute mark Driver’s Toby wakes up with gold on his eyes, see’s the light (a gorgeous shot)– shown here
- The party at Mishkin’s (castle in Portugal I believe- the highlight of the film) – it is here where we get the nightmare surrealism aspect— it is a mess but with Gilliam that’s part of the point—Greenaway-like or Fellini’s carnival for excess (where Gilliam’s strength lies) , an abundance of canted angles, the costume (literally a costume party) and décor design—jesters, pyrotechnics, a Wicker Man-like set-piece, a papier-mache head (like Fellini’s Amarcord or Roma)
- It slides into the archive as a recommend but some of the bad (in the first half especially) is very non-descript and bad—and most of the highs are just reminders of Gilliam’s once abundant creativity and talent 20-30 years prior during his prime
You often say about a new director who has made a unique film that you are “excited to see what he/she does next.” This film is the opposite; it was created by a unique and brilliant auteur, and thus created disappointment. However, what would you think if it had been made by an up-and-coming director (I think ignoring the production background in this question is probably necessary)? Would you be excited or ambivalent?
@Graham– yeah that’s interesting. I think it depends on how “up-and-coming” the young director was in this hypothetical. If it is from a brand new director and they make an archiveable film (like this)- that’s great– but for any of the best 30-40 directors currently working, young or old, if they made “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” it would be a letdown.
What is the better film Tideland(2005)or this one?Lot of flaws in both films.
Is The Zero Theorem(2013) in the archives?
@Malith- not currently- I still have it at the top of my queue to get a second look at
Did you see Zero Theorem(2013)?
@Malith– should get to it in the next week actually- just came available
Did you catch Zero Theorem(2013)?Isn’t it good enough to be in the archives?
@Malith- I did catch it- it’ll be in the archives and I’ll have a page for it in March
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