terry gilliam: tilting at windmills
Viewed last night: Lost in La Mancha.
It's one of those movies about making movies. Usually, that type of film will come off as pretentious and devoid of any real emotion.
This one, however, was an exception. La Mancha is more than a documentary. It is the tale of Terry Gilliam and his burning ambition to some day bring his refurbished tale of Don Quixote to the screen. It plays out like a love story, with theThe Man who Killed Don Quixote as the love interest and Gilliam as the pursuer who is foiled again and again in his attempts to make the girl his.
Gilliam is an amazing, if emotionally driven, director. Brazil, 12 Monkeys and The Fisher King all have Gilliam's stamp of manic, surreal vision on them, and they were all box office winners. Even The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was deemed a failure, is still enjoyable to watch just for the amount of pure blood, sweat and tears that Gilliam poured into it.
His vision of The Man who Killed Don Quixote started many years ago. The take you see in this documentary is not the first time the film had been attempted by Gilliam. Watching Lost, you get the feeling that it has a MacBeth quality to it; doomed encounter bad luck and misfortune forever.
We watch as Gilliam goes through an incredible range of emotions. At times, when a scene plays out right, he squeals with delight and seems almost childlike in his happiness.
Unfortunately, it was very rare that things went Gilliam's way during the shoot. Forces of nature, the lead actor's prostate/bad back, money and a myriad of seemingly insurmountable problems kept piling on top of each other until Gilliam was again forced to close down production of the film.
While he is trying once again to get the film off the ground (buying back the rights from the insurance company that now owns them), I think any further productions should have a motto of Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here. [Gilliam is currently working on Brothers Grimm and has, unforunately, dropped Good Omens]
I saw much of Quixote himself in Gilliam during this film. Not so much that he was tilting at windmills, but that he dared to take the windmills on to begin with, and how he kept at it depsite the negativity and bad fortune that followed The Man who Killed Don Quixote (which, from the frames of it we did get to see during La Mancha , looks like a fabulous, freaky movie) from year to year.
From both reading Simon's novel and watching Lost in La Mancha, you can be sure any daydreams I had about some day directing a movie have been washed away. ]