Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Lost in La Mancha (2002)

Lost in La Mancha (2002, Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe) is a documentary that chronicles the doomed production Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was an ambitious project that went awry after various budgeting issues, extreme weather, and actor health problems. 
The documentary is well constructed in that it explains Gilliam’s vision of what the film was intended to be, then proceeds to show how it all went wrong. The film is made using various interviews from both before and after the fact, as well as footage from behind the scenes and rehearsals. The film is embellished with various animated sections in the style of Terry Gilliam’s work on Monty Python.

Fig 1, Screen Cap from the Animated Segment of Lost in La Mancha
It could be suggested that the main subject of the documentary is Gilliam himself, more particularly the way he works. Gilliam has a reputation for taking on troubled productions and, normally, persevering. The documentary dose a good job at championing Gilliam‘s determination to put his vision on film. A more eloquent way to summarize Gilliam’s fortitude is by saying that "the only person who has jousted at more windmills than Don Quixote seems to be Terry Gilliam" [Cook, 2003].

lost-in-la-mancha.jpgFig 2, Gilliam on the set of The Man who Killed Don Quixote

Watching Gilliam and his crew in their determination to get the film made whilst knowing the outcome is almost painful to watch. The documentary poignantly draws parallels between Gilliam’s struggle and the Don Quixote character.  Gilliam’s acceptance of the reality of his situation means the film is dead; similarly, Don Quixote dies once he accepts reality.
Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes world of filmmaking.  It leaves the audience with a new appreciation for Gilliam, the art of film making, and a pining for what might have been.

Linda Cook, Quad City Times, June 2, 2003,
Image List
Fig 2, Gilliam on the set of The Man who Killed Don Quixote, http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2009/05/here-comes-a-lost-in-la-mancha.php
Fig 1, Screen Cap from the Animated Segment of Lost in La Mancha, http://wn.com/%C3%9Cber_Terry_Gilliam

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