Review by Steve Rhodes|
3 stars out of 4
In 1957, Orson Welles started what would prove to be a jinxed production of "Don
Quixote." Decades later, after working sporadically on the film, all he had to
show for it were bits and pieces of celluloid since most of the movie was never
shot. One of the few directors foolish and bold enough to take another tilt at
this movie windmill is Terry Gilliam, the unstoppable director of such complex
films as the hit BRAZIL and the disastrous THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN.
Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's absorbing documentary LOST IN LA MANCHA chronicles
the behind the scenes action as Gilliam attempts to beat what he calls the
"Quixote Curse." We become flies on wall as we watch the birth of Gilliam's
version of the Don Quixote tale, starring Jean Rochefort, Johnny Depp and
Vanessa Paradis. Jeff Bridges fills in the background narration for us.
Gilliam, accurately called "Captain Chaos" by his assistant director, is less
like a director that a kid loose in the proverbial candy shop. When most people
would sense disaster, he sees only tremendous opportunity and challenge. You
get the distinct feel that he would hate working on anything approaching a
traditional shoot. During preproduction, which is the only tedious part of the
documentary, Gilliam guffaws about his movie, "It's got a lot of potential for
chaos." Since it is one of the most expensive movies ever made solely with
European financing, the pressure on the production team is intense.
When the filming starts, the old jinx kicks in with everything from a big storm
to noisy fighter jets delaying the production. Still in high spirits, Gilliam
brags, "It's going to be an extraordinary film. It's going to be horrible and
beautiful at the same time." The dailies look awful to me, but Gilliam adores
them, rewarding them with boisterous laughter.
On the first day of shooting, Gilliam asks his assistant, "How is it going?"
Without blinking an eye, the AD shoots back, "Badly!" To which Gilliam replies
jovially and honestly, "Good!" For a man who relishes chaos, Gilliam gets all
he can chew. You won't be chewing since your jaw will probably be stuck
permanently in the open position as you sit awestruck watching the disasters
LOST IN LA MANCHA runs 1:29. It is rated R for "language" and would be
acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes