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Lost In La Mancha

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Lost In La Mancha

Starring: Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp
Director: Keith Fulton
Rated: R
RunTime: 93 Minutes
Release Date: January 2003
Genre: Documentary

*Also starring: Jean Rochefort, Jeff Bridges, Vanessa Paradis

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 roll in.

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

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