Contact Us    
The Insurance Company that Killed Don Quixote

Terry Gilliam’s doomed film documented by 'Lost in La Mancha'

by S.E. Shepherd
February 20, 2004

Bookmark and Share

In 2001, director and former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam set out his film, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” “Quixote” has been a pet project for Gilliam, something he has been working on for more than a decade. Gilliam’s version involves a modern-day actor (played by Johnny Depp) who somehow finds himself caught up in story of the “real” of Don Quixote. Quixote mistakes Depp for Sancho Panza, while he believes he must be in a dream.
Gilliam has a history of making brilliant films that like to blur the line between fantasy and reality (“Time Bandits,” “Fisher King,” “Adventures of Baron Munchausen”). However he also has a reputation as an “out-of-control” director and a “money-waster.” Because of such a reputation, Gilliam sometimes finds his visual ambitions exceed his limitations. The documentary “Lost in La Mancha” follows Gilliam’s dedication and frustration trying to bring his Quixote to life.
“La Mancha” is a good study in how chaotic filmmaking is, especially for independent and low-budget filmmakers. Gilliam has a difficulty finding investors, and must settle for Europeans who give him only a $32 million budget, or about half of what Gilliam feels he needs. This causes him to scale back and makes each day of filming crucial, as Gilliam and his crew have very little room for error in their tight schedule.
Of course, things do go wrong; actors are not under contract; the unforeseeable happens (flash floods, rumbling jets and an undeveloped “soundstage”); and Gilliam struggles to get his film completed. Because he is used to chaos while making his films (Gilliam touches on the similar difficulties he had making “Munchausen”), these setbacks do not faze him; Gilliam presses on. Yet despite his efforts, the film fails, as “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” shuts down after only six days of filming. The final blow comes when lead actor Jean Rochefort (playing the title character) develops a prostate injury during filming. He is gone for a few days, a week, two weeks, and ultimately cannot return for the film. The insurance company refuses to pay for Rochefort’s illness, claiming it was an “act of God,” and ends up with the film’s rights as a result.
While “Lost in La Mancha” is humorous, showing the many difficulties of making any film, it is also sad, not only for Gilliam and his staff, but for us moviegoers as well. “La Mancha,” does include some clips of the Gilliam’s film, from test scenes, pre-production work, and a few actual finished scenes, and we cannot help but wonder about the movie that would have been. Gilliam is childlike with glee as he watches his visions unfold, and we (especially Gilliam fans) cannot help but get caught up with him. Even as it becomes certain his film is doomed, Gilliam continues to push with unflappable enthusiasm and a belief that the film will get done.  In many ways, he becomes like his own film’s protagonist, believing in his dream while reality slowly tears it apart.
At the end of the film, a dejected Terry Gilliam reflects over his experience. He states he has made the film over so many times in his mind, he no longer feels a need to really make it. The movie claims Gilliam is pursuing the insurance company to sell back the rights to him, but as “Lost in La Mancha” was released two years ago, it is doubtful “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” will ever be made.

Post a Comment

Send Us Your Opinion
(Comments are moderated.)
Your Name:*

Your E-Mail Address:*
(Confidential. Will not be published.)


Note: In order to control automated spam submissions, URLs are no longer permitted in this form.

Please type the letters you see above.


Bookmark and Share

Sign up to receive an e-mail notice when new articles by this author are published. Your address remains confidential, and you may cancel at any time. A confirmation email will be sent.

Your e-mail address:
The Insurance Company that Killed Don Quixote
po Books
Now Available!

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

More Information.

More by S.E. Shepherd
The Spill
To William Carlos Williams
by S.E. Shepherd, 7/1/09
Idiot Savant: A Young Man's Journey
A poem.
by S.E. Shepherd, 9/26/04
A Canadian Odd Couple
Alanis Morissette and the Barenaked Ladies in concert.
by S.E. Shepherd, 8/3/04
Pimby Gets A Job
Short Story
by S.E. Shepherd, 7/27/04
Okay, I Will
Forming a real 'grassroots' party.
by S.E. Shepherd, 6/5/04
S’mores® Are Less
Hershey tries to cash in on campfire favorite.
by S.E. Shepherd, 1/16/04
The Con Is On (Again)
Comparing the classic caper movies with their modern remakes.
by S.E. Shepherd, 12/6/03
» Complete List (46)

Recently Published
View Article We Give You Thanks
A new Thanksgiving hymn
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/20/15
With Gratitude for Little Red Cups
How Christians should respond to Starbucks
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/13/15
The Gospel According to Paul
Celebrating the legacy of Paul Harris and Rotary International
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 11/6/15
A Tribute to Less-Than-Perfect Saints
Remembering loved ones on this All Saints Weekend
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/30/15
A Big Little Box
Celebrating the amazing ministry of Operation Christmas Child
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/23/15
Wrigley Field is Holy Ground
Celebrating the undying faith of the Chicago Cubs' fan
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/17/15
The Cost of Discipleship
Reflections on the shootings in Oregon
by Greg Asimakoupoulos, 10/9/15

Get the Partial Observer's
'recently published' headlines via RSS.

RSS Feed for Recently Published PO Articles    What is RSS?

Reproduction of original material from The Partial Observer without written permission is strictly prohibited.
The opinions expressed by site contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the editors.
Copyright ©2000-2015 partialobserver.com. All rights reserved.
Home · Site Map · Top