Terry Gilliamís proposed version of Cervantesí Don Quixote, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, was to have been the most expensive film ever financed wholly by European money. But according to this documentary about the demise of the project, that meant only a medium-sized budget by Hollywood standards. With too narrow a margin for error, it proved insufficient to realise Gilliamís vision.Fulton and Pepeís film focuses almost exclusively on pre-production, since Quixote was abandoned after only one full week of shooting. The problems are evident at the outset but initially seem surmountable. More than a few members of the crew even compare the situation favourably with the chaos of making Gilliamís The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
A tight budget means a tight schedule and it proves impossible to have busy actors like Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort available for rehearsal more than a few days prior to shooting. Especially when theyíve already taken salary cuts to make the picture. The beginning of the shoot is also fatally affected by a freakish storm and flood, and the escalating medical problems of an impossible-to-replace leading man (Rochefort).
Gilliamís fans are legion, and La Mancha gives them a chance to see their hero at work. It also allows a rare glimpse of a wildly imaginative directorís uncompleted, personal project. Directors Fulton and Pepe are obviously Gilliam admirers and they take a sympathetic view of his trials. Their comparison of Gilliam with Don Quixote is trite, but Lost in La Mancha offers an intriguing look into the unravelling of an ambitious film.(The sixth in a series of six short takes on the 2002 Sydney Film Festival - see also The Inside Story, Nobody Someday, Lovely & Amazing, Making Venus and The Slaughter Rule)