Lost in La Mancha

Lost in La Mancha

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Thirty-two million was half the sum Terry Gilliam needed to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, the story of a modern-day advertising executive who travels into the past and befriends Cervantes’s Don Quixote de la Mancha. Gilliam secured foreign financing and took the film to Europe, away from meddling Hollywood hands. Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s Lost in La Mancha documents the devastating events leading up to the failure of this elaborate production that previously haunted Orson Welles for some 20 years. The forces, majeure and otherwise, working against Gilliam included: flash floods in the Spanish desert; NATO planes flying overhead; shoddy sound stages; actors unwilling to fit rehearsals into their schedules; horses refusing to push Johnny Depp on cue; and lead Jean Rochefort’s prostate problems. Had Gilliam actually gotten past Day Six of production, Lost in La Mancha may have been little more than supplemental material on the Gilliam film’s inevitable Criterion DVD edition. In documenting the unfortunate comedy of errors leading up to the film’s failure, Fulton and Pepe both reveal the difficulties of making a film outside the Hollywood studio system and Gilliam’s quixotic approach to his material. Gilliam’s impassioned demand for the impossible is seen as his Achilles’ heel. When things began to go wrong, the director’s levelheaded assistant director Philip Patterson was looking to cut everyone’s loses while Gilliam himself wanted to shoot anything in order to show something for their troubles. Lost in La Mancha is at once a tombstone to a failed production, a sad celebration of the endurance of the creative process and a memento mori of a great film not-to-be.

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DVD
Distributor
IFC Films
Runtime
89 min
Rating
NR
Year
2002
Director
Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe
Screenwriter
Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe
Cast
Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Benjamín Fernández, Bernard Bouix, René Cleitman, Tony Grisoni, Vanessa Paradis, Philip A. Patterson, Nicola Pecorini, Gabriella Pescucci, Jeff Bridges