Monday, 3 October 2011

Lost in La Mancha review

Lost in La Mancha (2002)

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Lost in La Mancha is a documentary focused on the production of the film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. It was originally supposed to be following Terry Gilliam through the production in an insight to the chaotic way in which he works, but before things get underway the project is complicated and with the issue of no back up plan it doesn't look like Gilliam's dream will come true.

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Bringing Quixote to the screen has been explained by Gilliam as a curse. Orson Welles attempted to bring him to the screen after a 15 year obsession, however because of the obscure nature of the story Welles had to fund the project all by himself and film it between his main projects. In the end Welles never finished the project because of his death and this obsession has also transferred on to Gilliam. Even before the project starts Gilliam puts himself on thin ice as he only manages to make $30 million in finances and has to travel to Europe for them due to Hollywood finding the idea all too obscure. Not only that but cruel 'acts of god' hinder Gilliam at every turn such as monsoons destroying the equipment and prostate problems.

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Fulton and Pepe, the directors of Lost in La Mancha, worked with Gilliam before in documenting the behind the scenes of 12 Monkeys and due to his way of reckless scheduling on his projects they thought that they would be filming an interesting DVD special feature. The film pans out as expected, interviews with the director, cast and crew and a few scenes which they are working on but it's just the way in which Fulton and Pepe cut the action to create tension as the audience hold their breath as to what else could destroy this project. The most shocking is the monsoon scenes in which the director and crew continue to live on the denial of the weather passing them. As things begin to get worse the camera focuses on the clouds as the sky begins to cloud over leading eventually to the first assistant director calling for the equipment to be covered. As the weather starts to hit the cameras focus on the crew trying to protect equipment with a gazebo then inside a car the camera looks out as rain and hail lash against the windscreen. The scenes following these are the most comical in the film in which the camera looks on as the rain causes huge mudslides while crew members chase after the equipment sliding away much like the project they are working on. The horrible part to this is not that the equipment was destroyed but the location is now tainted in colours of green and brown definitely not suited to Gilliams vision and the shots they have already got.

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What truly makes the documentary though is Gilliam himself. Filled with denial the audience are invited into his obsession with Don Quixote and showing his readings accompanied by storyboards that Gilliam has done. These plus scenes with Depp and Rochefort really do produce heartbreaking scenes as the quality of the project is definitely there and in these brief moments where Gilliam lets out a smile its devastating when the audience watch as it finally sinks in to him that he is unable to create his dream.

Gilliam has now been able to buy the rights back for his film from the insurers and planned to make the film again starring Ewan McGregor as Johnny Depp's character and Robert Duvall will step up to be Don Quixote. The sad thing is that last year the project collapsed again due to funding issues after shooting started late. Maybe The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will never see the light of day but throughout all his misfortunes Gilliam states about Lost in La Mancha to the directors in their hesitation on finishing the documentary -

"Someone has to get a film out of this. I guess it's going to be you."


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