UK premier screening at the London Film Festival October 2018
Yes another Terry Gilliam film and this one was well worth the wait.
After a much troubled production spanning sixteen years, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has finally graced the silver screen. The film itself is an eclectic mix of Medieval fable, modern evils and the simplicity of losing oneself in layer characterisations.
Gilliam has weaved a narrative which brings in his surreal nature, coupled with his broad black humour and has infused his film with so many in jokes in and around the whole of his time spent getting this production onto the screen. Though chaotic in the background, little can be seen on screen as the film weaves it multifaceted storyline to and interesting and Gilliamesque ending
The story begins with a hotshot spoilt Director Toby, played by Adam Driver, shooting a Don Quixote film on the plains of La Mancha, obviously bored of the project and the insistence rantings of his producer, he decides to abandon the set and ride off to a nearby village where he once remember shooting a similar film as a film student using the locals in his film. One such man, Javier played by Johnathan Pryce becomes the student Toby’s Don Quixote with basic English and no acting experience. Soon the whole village is caught up in the production. As Toby returns to the same village he remembers all the good times he had film his student film, even wooing the local bar keepers daughter with a starring role. As Toby returns to the set, still muddled and unhappy, the money oriented Executive Producer The Boss, arrives, with trophy wife in tow, to see how the production is shaping up. at the same time, Toby is asked to look after his wife while he is away on business securing another deal with a Russian business man, Toby has literally taken the bosses wife to bed when he decides to watch his original student film of Don Quixote on a pirate DVD. All of Toby’s youthful exsubernace to be the Director he really wanted to be comes back to him, along with his love of the bar owners daughter.
From this point on, Gilliam’s film takes a turn for the darker side as Toby is plunged into a chaotic ride of bad luck as he escapes from the local police, is chased into the desert, while the Executive Producer wants him dead for seducing his wife. To add more chaos to Toby’s life, in comes Javier’s Don Quixote, still in full character after nearly 20 years an older and more out of time man than when Toby first cast him. Javier/Quixote takes Toby under his wing, mistaking him for Sancho Panzer as both men flee into the wilderness searching for the giants that Quixote must kill, while Toby searches for his lots love, who he discovers, is now the trophy wife of the Russian business man who The Boss has been having dealings with! To say this is a loaded plot line would be understatement as Gilliam proceeds to up the ante by bringing in a Medieval party night in a castle, hosted by the Russian and populate with guests intent on having the best of times, while possible murder and violence eschew.
As Gilliam paces towards his finale, all of the narrative strands come together and melt into one as Toby and Quixote finally reach an understanding and thwart the evils of Capitalism in it’s tracks.
I could not help but wonder with the whole troubled production and the film itself suffering the issues of global distribution, was Gilliam poking at the very issues he had bringing his much loved production to the screen, or was he saying ‘look I have made the film, shove it if you don’t like it or understand it’ The film itself is a good production, an eclectic mixture of actors and some good set piece scenes. Pryce is fantastic as Quixote, playing both the original actor and the man himself in a few scenes set in the Middle Ages. Driver is very good to, plying spoilt then somewhat sympathetic in equal measure. The support cast make the rest of the storyline very well fleshed out there is little to fault the film itself, though be warned if the view is looking for a straight narrative, they would not find it hear. That is not to say there are a few rough edges, but with Gilliam’s pedigree you do not need the film to be another Brazil (1985) or Twelve Monkeys (1995); but except that Gilliam is a master crafts man and a stubborn director who wanted his film on the screen and worked his butt off get it there. A film that is well worth a watch.