If there’s one thing you can say about Terry Gilliam (besides the whole ‘creative genius’ thing), it’s that he is persistent. You might also go with ‘stubborn’ or ‘straight-up loony tunes,’ but let’s say persistent.
You’re probably familiar with Gilliam’s long-running determination to make a Don Quixote movie. After a 25-year obsession with the idea, the closest he’s come is the 2002 documentary Lost In La Mancha, about the spectacular failure that was his attempt to make the actual film itself.
While Lost in La Mancha is an INCREDIBLE film, Gilliam still hasn’t given up hope of making his original dream, titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. Back in early 2014, Gilliam announced that production was gearing up once again. At the time he described his obsession with the film as a tumor.
It’s obsessive… desperate… pathetic… foolish… It’s this growth, this tumor that’s become part of my system that has to get out if I’m to survive.
Actual footage of the inside of Gilliam’s brain:
He said he was looking to start filming in September of that year with the eleventh cast he’d put together over two and a half decades. ELEVENTH. I can’t think of anything I’ve ever attempted to do eleven times, let alone something that cost (or potentially would cost) millions of dollars with each attempt. But now he’s back at it, and this time with Adam Driver and Michael Palin attached.
The plot sounds… well… let’s give it the benefit of the doubt because it’s Terry Gilliam. (Via Flickreel)
There was a time when Toby was a young film student full of ideals. So he decided to shoot a film adapted from the story of Don Quixote in a pretty Spanish village.
But those days are gone and now Toby is an arrogant publicist, libidinous and jaded. Money and glitter have corrupted him, and while he is in Spain where he finishes filming an ad, he has to juggle with his boss’s wife - Jacqui - a calamitous weather, and his own ego. This is when a mysterious gypsy comes to find him with an old copy of his student film: Toby is upset and decides to go in search of a little village where he had made his first work a long time ago. He discovers with horror that his little film has had terrible effects on this quiet place. Angelica, the girl full of innocence, became a high-class call girl; and the old man who played Don Quixote lost his mind, convinced in his delusion of being the real “Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance.”
A series of incidents lead to a fire that threatens to destroy the village. Wanted by the police, Toby is “saved” by the old fool who takes him for his faithful squire Sancho, and drives on the roads in search of his perfect wife, Dulcinea.
During this journey, Toby will face demons, real and imaginary, modern and medieval. Damsels will be saved, jousts will be completed, and giants will be killed!
Reality and fantasy merge in this strange journey, until a spooky ending.
God, I hope this eleventh or twelfth time is the charm. Sure, the mysterious gypsy, “perfect wife” hunt, and a director’s confrontation by his ghosts of film-school past seem like surprisingly juvenile tropes for an institution of a man like Gilliam, but the real magic here is, of course, going to be in the spectacular spectacular of the visual journey. How many of us have spent our entire adulthoods wanting to see Gilliam’s vision of this story? I would guess the answer is somewhere in the range of “most of us.”
Head over to Flickreel for some cool concept art glimpses, as well.