Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lost in La Mancha (2002)

Seen: On my boyfriend's Macbook Air, streamed from my hard drive. On a bus.

Oh Terry Gilliam, the man who makes the movies I am most likely to obsess over, why do you always have all the problems? Somewhat accidental documentary Lost in La Mancha chronicles the auteur's failed attempt (one of several) to film an adaptation of Don Quixote, his dream project. He manages to cull together European funds and a production team, working in several countries to put together the extensive puppets, props, and period costumes needed for the planned film. He secures actors Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort, and Vanessa Paradis- tenuously, really, since their contracts aren't exactly finalized and he has trouble contacting them during pre-production. Finally filming begins in a desert region of Spain, where a nearby army base frequently sends noisy planes over the set and a freak flood destroys the equipment and changes the landscape entirely. When the lead actor becomes ill, production is halted indefinitely.

A wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and some telling interviews make up the bulk of Lost in La Mancha, certainly sating my desire for Gilliam secrets and working methods. The animated storyboards, clips of various high-concept props being tested, and general enthusiasm surrounding pre-production are certainly titillating, and even knowing the outcome of the project I started the film with some optimism (it must be catching). But then as the AD reminds Gilliam of their extremely tight schedule, and Gilliam admits to a budget significantly smaller than he needs, the seeds of destruction are planted and all one can do is sit back and wait for everything to go to shit. And it does. It really does.

While of course I'm bummed that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has continued to not get made (Gilliam's still working on it, I think), I'm grateful that filmmakers Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe happened to be around to record all the goings-on. I love learning about movie-making since there are always so many small details and outside factors that I don't even think about, not being in the industry myself. (Hehe... "the industry".) It's a sad but enlightening tale that if anything reminds us of the remarkable fortitude of Gilliam and his stalwart crewmembers. They'll find a way, eventually... maybe. 'Til then I'll be debating trying out Johnny Depp's bleached-streak hairstyle.


Pair This Movie With: Aw this made me want to show Gilliam my support and watch his movies! Brazil is my favorite, though they mentioned The Adventures of Baron Munchausen a few times so that came to mind.


  1. I think it will eventually get made, god knows Gilliam has never given up on the project. I love how the documentary ends with a question mark as if saying "will it ever happen?"

    This documentary is an amazing piece of cinema, I'm kind of happy that this whole mess happened, otherwise we would have never gotten this wonderful documentary. It's a wonder to watch this trainwreck of a that moment when Gilliam says "Im pulling the plug" wow, what a moment.

    The tension can really be felt in those moments when we start to realize that things just arent going the same time, we see glimpses of the awesome movie that could have been.

  2. Film Connoisseur: I certainly hope it happens! And yes I agree, though I'm sad the project fell through at this time I'm happy this documentary came out of it. Such an interesting film.