Retro Review: Lost in La Mancha

One of the most infamous stories in Hollywood, that surrounds the disastrous making of a film, is the story of gifted tangent-oriented director Terry Gilliam in his attempt to bring the classic novel Don Quixote to the silver screen. The documentary, “Lost in La Mancha” depicts that journey.

Gilliam had always had an eye for the surreal and absurd which is probably why he fell in love so much with the mind-set of the literary character, Don Quixote.

In his previous films “Brazil”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “The Fisher King”, Gilliam explored the worlds of men who experience twisted-views of reality.

His love affair with that kind of mindset or tangent in films it is no wonder that he wanted to do Quixote.

That character is a lot like the heroes throughout Gilliam’s body of work.

The film was scheduled to be shot in Europe with European financial backers.

The film was to star American Johnny Depp and French actors Jean Rochefort and Vanessa Paradis.

The film chronicles Gilliam’s dream, the film’s preproduction and its eventual downfall.

You know from the moment you sit down that the film being talked about was never made but the story pulls you right in. The documentary is mesmerizing. There are sequences that the documentary director shot in pure Gilliam style that chronicle Gilliam’s mindset.

They are styled after Gilliam’s Monty Python animatics. The film also allows such amazing access to the events within the film’s conception.

You fall in love with the quirky obsession that Gilliam has with his dream of Quixote. You fall in love more and more as you start to see his dreams come true.

It tears you in half that the film being conceived your very eyes was never made. You so want to see the film. As an audience we don’t know all the miracles of schedules and money that has to gel before a film finishes. You basically have to be a little insane to be a film director and that theory is very relevant here.

I loved the honesty depicted in this film. It has to be one of the best documentaries ever made about this subject. I would love to see more of these kinds of movies about other doomed or ill-fated Hollywood projects.

(4.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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