Movie Review: Lost in La Mancha

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International

What if you start to make a documentary about a movie in progress? You set it up meticulously with great background info about the director and a trajectory of past to present work. The tension builds as you await the latest addition to the chronology and the film is already to shoot. Then, the project starts to unravel.
What if you are the director? You are in Spain, you got your crew together and you are out on a shoot.
Suddenly there is freak flash rains and you watch your equipment float down the crevices of the mountainside. Holy Cow! There goes that mike and sound system. Worse yet, your lead actor, Jean Rochefort, can't sit on a horse because of a herniated disk. And he's supposed to be Don Quixote. Yikes! He learned do able English in seven months and he can't even sit high in the saddle. You wait and the project starts to meltdown, inside out. Your backers are nervous. You're nervous.
That great documentary turns into an ant farm with all the ants lying feet up. Well this is what Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe have dug up for us in Lost in La Mancha. You can actually see the dream of Terry Gilliam to make a film about the infamous knight who fought windmills, the director of pearls such as Braziland Twelve Monkeys, transform into a nightmare. Well there a lot to learn from this film, narrated by Jeff Bridges. It's a true inside look into how a production takes place. This is not the making of Die Another Die or Lord of the Rings with happy actors who eulogize about how great the film was like Pierce Brosnan speaking about tie ins and other tales that create mega box office successes. This is a story that happens more than we know and the talented documentary team has made a fabulous record chronicling the twists and turns of Gilliam's vision gone up in smoke. It goes with the story that making the film in Spain with an international crew and backing was not an easy task. In the end, we have to be content with a few gem shots of the apparitions of Don Quixote, a couple of large Spanish men whose size is further distorted with a digital lens. Add to that some fine acting by Johnny Depp we may one day see in depth. Hopefully Gilliam's entire project won't wind up like the huge crates of Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, as the project sits in limbo awaiting a miracle. With the skill of a social anthropologist the Fulton and Pepe team plots the journey for us and while the road downhill is not as fun as the one up, there is a lot to learn about failure.

This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Stockholm Sweden

More Information:
Lost in La Mancha
USA, UK, 2002