It's a Wrap

Austin Film Festival 2002 reviews

Lost in La Mancha

D: Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe.

This might have been just another the-making-of documentary, had Terry Gilliam actually managed to make his film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. But as the documentarians continue to circle the cast and crew it becomes increasingly clear that we're witnessing the production's unmaking instead. Haunted both by a "curse of Quixote" (Orson Welles also tried for two decades to commit a version to film) and the long-looming shadow of his own mammoth flop The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Gilliam also has to grapple with an elephantine vision on a too-small budget, a schedule that allows for little deviation, inclement weather, lurking investors and insurance adjusters, and seldom seen stars (Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis) who are only making this movie in their spare moments between better paying projects. Jean Rochefort, Gilliam's Quixote, is perfect for the part except that he doesn't really speak English, has a thick French accent to which the director seems oblivious, and almost immediately develops a colon infection that makes horseback riding (that is, most of his screen time) terribly painful. When Rochefort's doctors finally refuse to allow him to return to the set, the film is abandoned and Gilliam is left to try to buy back the script from the insurance company that owns it. Whether this doc functions as a sales pitch or a cautionary tale for future investors remains to be seen.

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