For a moment there, it looked like Terry Gilliam‘s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was finally going to make its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. That remains in question as the on-going legal battle over the rights wages on, but new reports cast even more upsetting developments around the project: Gilliam was reportedly hospitalized ahead of the premiere decision...
It almost sounds like something that would happen to Don Quixote, that calamity-prone knight errant: Terry Gilliam has been roving the European countryside as of late, shooting in Spain and Portugal for his freely interpretive Miguel de Cervantes adaptation/riff The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. During this production process, he and his crew set up shop near a 12th-century religious monument called the Convent of Christ. Word has now been circulating that Gilliam and Co. did irreparable damage to the widely beloved landmark, in the sort of well-intentioned accident that Don Quixote himself pretty much invented.
There are troubled productions, and then there are troubled productions, and then there is Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. A Monty Python alumnus and the visionary filmmaker behind projects like 12 Monkeys, Brazil, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gilliam has been working on his modern day retelling of Don Quixote for over 20 years. The film was originally set to go into pre-production back in 1998, but setbacks and a series of freak accidents — all covered in the acclaimed documentary Lost in La Mancha — tanked that production and have kept Gilliam in production limbo ever since. The Daily Beast put together a detailed history of the film earlier this year; it seriously makes Apocalypse Now sound like a Troma Entertainment production by comparison.
Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote movie, the production history of which could itself best be described as the very definition of the word “quixotic,” has officially begun production this week. The film has been in the works since its ill-fated first attempt in 2000, and Gilliam has been hard at work trying to make it happen ever since.
After 17 years spent milling around development hell, Terry Gilliam’s adaptation of Don Quixote ranks among the greatest films never made. The celebrated director of such wild-eyed satires as Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas took on a mad mission of his own in tackling the legendary picaresque novel from Miguel Cervantes, landing Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort to star in the tale of a deluded knight pursuing farcical missions around the Spanish countryside while providing subtle critiques of class and religion. The 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha chronicles Gilliam’s long and arduous road to realizing this vision, which included everything from flash floods to technical hassles to a serious illness from Rochefort that would ultimately table the entire production and result in a $15 million insurance claim.