April 6, 2019


It May Be the Most Cursed Film Ever. These 5 Crew Members Saw It Through. (Sopan Deb, April 4, 2019, NY Times)

When Terry Gilliam began work on "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," one of its producers was about 11 years old.

That would be Gilliam's daughter, Amy, who is now 41.

The movie has to be one of the unluckiest passion projects in history: In a three-decade stretch, Gilliam, now 78, endured several financing stops and starts, a rotating cast of committed and uncommitted cast members, and a brutal flash flood that wiped out an entire set. In fact, a documentary about the failure to make the movie -- the 2002 "Lost in La Mancha" -- was completed before the actual movie.

But finally, "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" is no longer just a project. Sisyphus moved the boulder to the top of the hill. After debuting at the Cannes Film Festival last year, it is a completed work that will make its American debut on April 10 in a one-night showing at 700 theaters across the country, before a limited theatrical run with a currently unknown date.

Gilliam himself, in his effort to make the film, has been likened to Quixote, but he prefers a different comparison: "The film is Quixote. I'm Sancho Panza because I'm the guy who just keeps pushing it forward," he said in a phone interview from London. "My feet are on the ground most of the time."

While he didn't make the journey alone, Gilliam had very little of the same company along the way. Only a few people involved in the final product were there when he first tried to film it in 2000: They include his daughter; a co-writer, Tony Grisoni; the cinematographer, Nicola Pecorini; and the production designer, Benjamín Fernández. The Quixote costume designed for the original production was used in the finished version.

In interviews, those who had stayed with Gilliam on this ride could be described as the director's own Sancho Panzas: equal parts loyal and astounded that Gilliam kept pressing on, even under the most challenging circumstances. [...]

But Gilliam spent nearly two more decades trying to bring it to fruition. "It's partly that everybody else says, 'Forget it, move on,'" Gilliam said. "I think that's the main driving force. I don't like reasonable people telling me to be reasonable."

The entire point of Don Quijote, to Cervantes's eternal chagrin, was that the Don's rejection of Reason is a gift to the world:

Ah, sir, may God forgive you for the damage you've done to the whole rest of the world, in trying 
    to cure the wittiest lunatic ever seen!  Don't you see, my dear sir, that whatever utility there might 
    be in curing him, it could never match the pleasure he gives with his madness?  But I suspect that, 
    despite all your cleverness, sir, you cannot possibly cure a man so far gone in madness, and, if 
    charity did not restrain me, I would say that Don Quijote ought never to be rendered sane, because 
    if he were he would lose, not only his witticisms, but those of Sancho Panza, his squire, any one of 
    which has the power to turn melancholy into happiness.

Posted by at April 6, 2019 6:26 AM