Filmmaking has never been known to be an easy undertaking. The work involved from beginning to end is tedious and unrelenting; the passion behind seeing it through till the end pushes a filmmaker forward. There are numerous reasons why projects may never get off the ground though and fall into “development hell”. In reality the end result might not always be in one’s favor but in the case of Terry Gilliam’s film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote he did not let obstacles, no matter how many, interfere with him making this film.
The fact this film has seen the light of day is the personification of a passion project. Gilliam had been trying to get this film made since 1989 but through no fault of his own it kept getting delayed. Finding funding outside the U.S was an enormous task to be handled and that alone took close to ten years to accomplish. In the early 2000’s the film started to push forward but due to natural disasters numerous set pieces and equipment were destroyed. Stars such as Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Robert Duvall and John Hurt were all tapped at one point to star but with financial delays the film never got off the ground. It was not until 2016 when word once again spread the film had found a star in Adam Driver and later Jonathan Pryce. The film wrapped the next year in 2017, twenty eight years after its inception.
The film follows Driver as a young, top shot film director shooting a film about Don Quixote. While there he rediscovers the forgotten memories of when he made his first film, a student film in the same area also about Don Quixote which led him to stardom. Upon his return to his old shooting locations he comes to discover that the man he cast as Don Quixote all those years ago now believes he is the “Man from La Mancha”. This of course comes from the mind of the same director of such films as Brazil, Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Twelve Monkeys; suffice it to say this film takes the mind into a trippy state.
Best to tell anyone before viewing is to just take everything in without over analyzing anything. The film goes back and forth blurring the lines of reality and fiction; it is best to sit back and enjoy the ride. The film is heavily carried by Driver as Toby who also serves as the dedicated squire to Don Quixote, Sancho Panza. We experience everything as he does, at first he has no clue what is going on which leads to some comical moments and as his journey continues he just accepts everything as it unfolds. Pryce is endearing as Don Quixote and portrays the character with a strange charismatic quality. The chemistry between Driver and Pryce is apparent but it’s the range of emotions the duo go through that solidifies them as an inimitable force. The film also stars newcomer Joana Ribeiro whose presence radiates off the screen in every scene she is in.
Some might think if it took twenty eight years to make that this must be the best film ever made; that is not the case. It is a highly enjoyable film that transports the viewer into another realm of existence and with a running time of just over two hours that is not an easy feat. What I believe does come through though emphatically is the love and above it all passion Gilliam had in constructing this film and bringing it audiences.
3.5 out of 5
Limited Screenings begin Friday April 19th
Find a screening near you Here
The film is available through YouTube Movies
Follow the Film: