Lost In La Mancha (2002)

Lost in La Mancha (2002)

Lost in La Mancha (2002) with Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, and Jean Rochefort

Lost in La Mancha chronicles director Terry Gilliam’s (Time Bandits, Brazil) attempt to make  “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” a long simmering project close to the director’s heart.

Johnny Depp was to star in the movie as Toby Grisoni, an advertising executive from the future that is transported in time to Don Quixote’s time and is mistaken for Quixote’s sidekick Sancho Panza.

The documentary was filmed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe who had previously worked with Gilliam on Twelve Monkeys when they made another behind the scenes documentary The Hamster Factor and Other Tales from the Twelve Monkeys. (Which is well worth a look for those interested in Gilliam’s creative process and the movie.) What the documentary film makers did not bargain for when filming this latest documentary was the disastrous turns the filming of Gilliam’s latest opus would take.

Gilliam’s reputation had made it necessary for him to go outside the Hollywood studio system and to finance the film on his own. Gilliam and his team laid the ground work raising the capital through a series of European investors and secured sites in Spain for filming. What they didn’t foresee was a number of increasingly insurmountable road blocks that would be thrown at them. From the deteriorating health of Jean Rocherfort, who was critical in his role as Don Quixote, to a flash flood on the second day of shooting that destroyed valuable equipment.  The shooting schedule and viability of the film was quickly thrown into doubt.

The documentary captures, Gilliam’s creative process and the behind the scenes look at the few takes they did manage to get, as well as the rising tension and uncertainty of the future of the film. It’s ironic that the film itself takes on a quixotic nature as Gilliam soon becomes the one “tilting at windmills”.

The few scenes featuring Depp show a promising role where his character is the audience’s contemporary guide in to Cervantes world of Don Quixote, much in the way that Twain’s Connecticut in King Arthur’s Court was a “contemporary” guide to the Knights of the Round Table.

Since the film was halted in 2000 and the rights held by the insurance company,  there has been several attempts by Gilliam to restart the film. In 2008 Gilliam confirmed that he had entered into pre-production on the film with Robert Duvall and Johnny Depp attached. Since that time though Johnny Depp’s role has been replace by Ewan McGregor according to reports when plans resurfaced for the film in 2010. The film sounds as if it is still going ahead with a major re-write and plot change and may be released in theatres as well as on Amazon eventually.

You can read more details about the film here: