Lost In La Mancha is a video diary of Terry Gilliam’s attempt to make his adaptation of Don Quixote in which a modern day advertising executive finds himself transported back in time and mistaken for Quixote’s faithful companion Sancho Panza.
Failing to get financial backing from Hollywood because of the shadow of his one heroic failure Baron Munchausen looming over his head – despite the fact that he had made financial successes before and since – he tried to make the film using European money and although he was forced to work with half the budget he would have liked, it was actually shaping up quite nicely. Unfortunately a catalogue of catastrophes plagued the film in the first week of shooting, from the set being buzzed by F-16’s to the star being diagnosed with a double hernia. Not to mention the fact that Gilliam had to watch all of his equipment being washed away by a freak flash flood! It’s actually a fascinating look behind the scenes of the movie making process; from Gilliam’s mind’s eye being transformed into storyboards, to the process of costume design, make up, scouting, screen testing and eventual (if disastrous) shooting. The footage that was actually shot – of which there is maybe a minute! – looks like it could have been another of his great successes and it is strange how there seems to be a real parallel between Quixote and Gilliam himself; in this case the grim reality that defeats him is represented by the insurance men who avoided paying out by claiming that a 70 year old actor falling ill was an “act of God”. It makes you wonder why any of us ever pay for insurance for anything in the first place.
The suits still own the rights to his script and I for one hope that Terry will continue to tilt at these pinstriped windmills and never accept defeat.