April 9, 2018

A trailer for Terry Gilliam’s quixotic Quixote appears at last


Director Terry Gilliam

Making books is so hard, you guys.

First, a writer must sit for years in thoughtful solitude to produce a manuscript. Then, she must suffer through repeated rounds of editing. At last the book goes into production, which is usually a nine-month gestation period involving managing editors, typesetters, copyeditors, proofreaders, art directors, designers, and untold others. Then the finished product goes to the printer, where any number of obscure-to-me processes take place. Then it goes to a warehouse. Then on a truck. Then on to bookstores. Hundreds of people have worked on the thing before you buy it, and any number of things can go wrong along the way.

So imagine how hard making a movie most be. Sheesh. And nobody understands this better than Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam, whose filmic interpretation of Don Quixote is only just now seeing light, after two decades of mayhem.

Lena Wilson brings us up to speed over at Slate:

If development hell were a real place, Terry Gilliam would have his own wing. The British filmmaker has been trying to get his passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote off the ground since 1998, meeting all manner of hilarious and frustrating problems in the process. After facing down unreliable financiers, no-show actors, and the apparent wrath of God in the form of a flash flood that wiped his set away, the film finally wrapped last summer. Now, if this new international trailer is any indication, the movie actually exists—and it looks like it’s going to be as bonkers as its production history.

 The trouble is, the trailer (below) muddies more than it clarifies. It seems that the movie adds a meta-twist to the original story. That is, it’s about a guy (played by Jonathan Pryce) who thinks he’s Don Quixote (who thinks he’s a knight). Hunky Adam Driver plays the bewildered and, as of yet, bewildering, Sancho Panza stand-in.

There is reason to be skeptical, especially a bias against Gilliam for his less-than-helpful response to accusations against Harvey Weinstein. But looking to history, at least if recent Spanish anti-censorship strategies and Jorge Luis Borges’s immortal “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote” are any indication, strange attempts to channel the original Quixote can work, exceedingly well.

Of the new international trailer, the New York Times Bruce Fretts cautions us: “the brief clip (with French subtitles) provides the first real evidence that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote actually exists.”

Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.