They’ve got a story… but have lost the plot. -Tagline for the film
You may’ve heard that some movies languish in “production hell” for years. This is a documentary film from directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe; they’d intended to shoot the development and pre-production of Terry Gilliam’s (long-awaited) movie- The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. After the movie had to shutdown, Fulton and Pepe were wary of finishing their film, but Gilliam commented: “someone has to get a film out of this. I guess it’s going to be you.” The narrator of the doc is Jeff Bridges, one of Gilliam’s favorite actors.
I think he’s a little bit the Quixote. He’s the dreamer, the idealist. The one who sees things that the rest of us humans can’t see. -Benjamin Fernandez, Production Designer
Before filming begins, Gilliam had to move from Hollywood studio to European financing. The budget was cut from $40M to $32M (V high by European standards). Gilliam is a dreamer (like Quixote), so his vision is uncompromising. His department heads will have to do a LOT w/ what little they’ve been given. During pre-production and filming in Spain, what the director can’t foresee ALL the problems that will arise!
Terry, as we all well know, has the tendency of overloading everything. I mean, there is nothing ever simple and plain. -Nicola Pecorini, Director of Photography (D.P.)
I learned that Orson Welles tried to make his own version of this tale, BUT he failed several times! We’re taken through the pre-production, as we learn about what Gilliam and his co-writer (Tony Grisoni) changed around with the classic Cervantes story. A commercial director named Toby (Johnny Depp) gets sent back in time to where Don Quixote (French actor Jean Rochefort) mistakes him for Sancho Panza, his peasant sidekick; they go on adventures through the book’s stories. There is a brief animated sequence where we learn that Gilliam’s films (aside from The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) have been risks taken by Hollywood studios, but they made money and received critical acclaim.
[As a storm comes in, disrupting filming] Which is it, King Lear or Wizard of Oz? -Gilliam
There are humorous scenes w/ the (V large/jolly) men auditioning to play giants. We see a young/optimistic Johnny Depp giving input to Gilliam and rehearsing a few scenes; he looks gorgeous! Depp’s former wife, French singer/actress Vanessa Paradis, is mentioned a few times, though NOT seen much in the doc. She was cast as the female lead and did some costume tests. The extras didn’t have time to rehearse. It turns out that the main location (a nature preserve) is where planes make a LOT of noise up above. There is a powerful thunderstorm that pauses filming; the equipment has to be protected and the people race for cover! We hear that 70 y.o. old Rochefort (who’d been learning English for 6+ mos.) has a prostate infection (so it’s TOO painful for him to ride a horse).
Making a film with Terry is like riding a bareback pony. Just grab onto the mane, dig in the heels and the knees, and hang on, ’cause you’re in for the ride of your life. -Phil Patterson, First Assistant Director
The production company (French) is V worried, an insurance company (American) becomes involved, and Gilliam is losing control (and he knows it). Someone has to be let go, so Phil Patterson (who as First A.D. is to handle the other matters while the director works w/ actors) decides to quit instead of being fired. The crew had a good sense of humor and were V committed, BUT the movie had to shutdown. D.P. Nicola Pecorini (Italian) ended up working on the final film- which came out in 2017. He did an impressive job (b/c the cinematography is V beautiful)!
“Lost in La Mancha” is an enjoyable celebration of those who tilt at windmills. -Excerpt from IMDB review
3 thoughts on ““Lost in La Mancha” (2002)”
I can’t say I’m sorry that Depp didn’t get to make this film.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah- he has become problematic (been trying to keep track of the defamation trial)!
Even apart from that: the last film I’ve seen him in was only b/c Richard Armitage was in it (Through the Looking Glass) and the last film I’d seen him in before that was Chocolat. So, we’re talking 20 years since I’ve really seen him in anything. The intervening two decades was filled with franchise pictures of questionable value / interest. Really, his career’s been over for twenty years already. Even before that, he seemed to trade primarily on his own weirdness. I mean, whatever, it’s his life. But I never got the fuss.