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Lost in La Mancha
Lost in La Mancha
Actors: Andrea Calderwood, Bernard Chaumeil, Gabriella Pescucci, Johnny Depp, Fred Millstein
Genres: Drama, Educational
R     2003     1hr 33min

A tantalizing documentary as hilarious as it is tragic, the critically acclaimed theatrical hit LOST IN LA MANCHA tracks maverick filmmaker Terry Gilliam's madcap mission to film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. As he strug...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Andrea Calderwood, Bernard Chaumeil, Gabriella Pescucci, Johnny Depp, Fred Millstein
Genres: Drama, Educational
Sub-Genres: Drama, Educational
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 06/24/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 33min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The Curse of Quixote
Solo Goodspeed | Granada Hills, CA United States | 04/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After nearly ten years of obsession and persistence, maverick filmmaker Terry Gilliam finally gets the opportunity to realize his dream of making a movie about that other impossible dreamer, Don Quixote. This extraordinary documentary, produced by the team who gave us "The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of the Twelve Monkeys", covers six weeks of pre-production of this ambitious and already troubled work and the six days of actual production which destroyed it. With an exclusive, almost uncomfortable closeness to Gilliam's project, we get a glimpse at other attempts to film the story (Orson Welles entertained the notion for nearly twenty years, achieving mere minutes of test footage); in-depth looks at storyboards with dialogue; screen tests of "giant" performers (as Terry quips "This is our trailer!" with his trademark Amadeus giggle); meticulous detail being applied to elaborate props and sets; auditions for character actors, and prep work with the film's would-be stars Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp, and the overall excitement of launching a project of epic (though underfunded) vision ..... Then the cameras roll. The crew are forced to film in an area adjacent to a military testing range, and the actors can barely hear their director or own spoken lines over the roaring jets. Misunderstandings between members of the multi-national crew result in a lack of preparedness on a ridiculously tight shooting schedule. A sudden storm literally washes valuable filming equipment down a muddy gully, and transforms the locale to one totally different from the one filming was begun in. Star Rochefort suffers multiple herniated discs, causing excruciating pain while on horseback, and has to leave the production for an indefinite time. A well-rehearsed horse becomes nervous in the presence of visiting financiers to the set, and can't perform. Production is put on hold while Terry and company await word on their afflicted star, and the assistant director resigns. It becomes apparent that the production must be aborted, the only option being to assess the damages with insurance operatives, and clearly define a clause known as Forces Majeurs. Lost in La Mancha is an excruciating and candid look at a genius filmmaker confronted with a failed project, and the grace and stubborn optimism with which he faces it. Like his hero Sam Lowry from "Brazil", the realization may indeed be one of hopelessness, but the dream never really dies. Terry Gilliam's "un-making of" record makes for a viewing experience that is simultaneously agonizing and inspiring, a must for filmmaking hopefuls who want to be truly prepared for what can happen."
Anatomy of a Disaster
Mercy Bell | 02/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Poor Terry Gilliam. He spends time, money, energy, and I'm sure eaten a lot of antacids, and it comes to naught. But I guess the worse part is not being able to fulfill his dream. For the uber-creative director of many marvelous films, including personal fave "Twelve Monkeys", you'd think he'd be able to whip up a nice little Don Quixote film. But without Hollywood's resources, the money, punctuality from the actors, and cooperation from the weather his film, and his dream, came crashing down. It's unfortunate, because it looked really, really good.Unlike the glossy "making of" features on many films that are standard DVD extras these days, this documentary goes underneath the smiles and compliments and "best time of my life" statements and makes you wonder how films even get made. Although Gilliam's "Quixote" had more than it's fair share of problems to deal with, this documentary shows very well the perpetual purgatory of panic that can befall a production.From the very beginning we see Gilliam struggling with props and sets, and his exhausted and frustrated crew wondering what exactly he wants while struggling to find resources that aren't as abundant in Spain as they are in London or Hollywood. We see Gilliam's right hand man, 1st Assistant Director Phil Patterson, and various producers trying to reel in actors, Johnny Depp, Vanessa Paradis, and Jean Rochefort, from all over Europe on schedule (while making the said schedule). Once shooting, a hail storm from nowhere strikes, fighter planes do test runs over the set, a studio is actually a warehouse with horrendous sound, Rochefort comes down with a prostate problem, and calamity after calamity hits the weary production. It's painful, and by the time Patterson informs Gilliam that his film is basically dead, it's the emotional, inevitable climax of a very taut and stress-packed narrative. It never was going to happen from the beginning, and we see almost every minute of it. The filmmakers of this film don't interfere with what's going on, and most of the input we get is a more honorable (and very visual) form of eavesdropping, with the exception of a few knowing glances here and there and short explanations from producers, Gilliam, and crew members. And Johnny Depp shows up totally at ease and laid back (with sympathetic worried glances and tension breaking wisecracks when needed), to the delight of this Depp fan.I think this is one of the best films about the making of a film, a subject we really don't get to hear much about although it's remarkably fascinating. It's up there with DVD commentaries and the similarly apocalyptic "Project Greenlight" series in it's dive into the real machinery of a film. Where "Project Greenlight" gave us an idea of what a line producers do, behind the scenes relationships, and budgetary fidgeting, this gives you a good idea the enormity of the movie set and everything that could possibly go wrong. According to these, it's more akin to managing a company or running an army and trying to win every battle than creating the vision of a renegade artist.In the end, Gilliam is Quixote, an irony not lost on the filmmakers, Gilliam, or viewers. And the project? It's that blasted windmill."
A documentary about how a movie didn't get made
Joe Sherry | Minnesota | 06/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Lost in La Mancha is a documentary film focusing on Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote". For ten years director Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, The Fisher King) had been trying to get a movie made of Don Quixote made. It is his dream project. Unfortunately for Gilliam, it is also a film he has never gotten to make. Lost in La Mancha covers the six weeks of preproduction and the six days of actual production on the film. Lost in La Mancha is a document of what can go wrong on a film shoot. During this documentary, a crew member states that if someone would write this story, nobody would believe him. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We see a brief bit about the history of trying to film Don Quixote including Orson Welles' twenty year obsession and ultimate failure to get the movie off the ground. This leads into Terry Gilliam and his ten year obsession with the same thing. We begin with the six weeks of preproduction and the principal actors do not have signed contracts and the ones that do are not quite living up to the requirements of the contract. Costume fittings and rehearsals are being missed and the studio for some of the filming is nothing more than a warehouse with no acoustics to speak of. Things just have the feel of slipping out of control. It is suggested that this is the way Gilliam works, but even Gilliam feels that things are slipping. He mentions the fiasco of Baron Munchausen. Gilliam states that things are similar. Munchausen had actors but no costumes or sets. Don Quixote has costumes and sets but no actors. The film is slipping away from him.Finally the actors arrive (including Johnny Depp). There is minimal rehearsal but they are ready to begin. They are filming the first scenes nearby a NATO bombing range in Spain. Supposedly NATO only uses it an hour a day. Filming begins. NATO flies the fighter jets overhead so that sound is ruined for these scenes. An extra wasn't there for rehearsal and ruins another shot. A storm that was not mentioned on any weather report for three days rains down and floods the set. Not only is equipment partially damaged, it changes the color of the landscape. Gilliam selected that location because of how it looked. The color of the dirt has changed because of the rain and mudslides. The lead actor playing Quixote (a Frenchman) has a prostate infection and can't sit on a horse. He'll be gone a day, a week, another week. The film has come to standstill and there has only been six days of actual filming. Finally, Gilliam's movie is done. Nothing more can be salvaged and it is taken as a loss. Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating look at the breakdown of a movie (and one that looked like it could be good, too). I didn't know that a documentary about how a movie didn't get made could be so interesting, but it was."
Interesting but No-Frills Documentary
Westley | Stuck in my head | 02/15/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Lost in La Mancha" chronicles the attempts of Director Terry Gilliam ("Brazil," Monty Python series and movies) to bring the story of Don Quixote to the screen. The movie, entitled "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote," could have been a spectacular adaptation of what is considered one of the greatest books of all time. Other directors have struggled to adapt this difficult novel to the screen and hammer out a workable script; however, Gilliam seemed to have solved that problem by adding a new character from the present (played by Johnny Depp), who travels back in time and meets Don Quixote. Sounds like more fantastic mind-bending Gilliam fare, doesn't it? This documentary was obviously intended as a behind-the-scenes short to be included on the DVD release. However, "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" was plagued with a series of mishaps and bad luck, including a sick leading actor (Jean Rocheport) and a storm (caught magnificently on tape) that destroyed the set and equipment. The movie ended up being abandoned, but we do get to see a few tantalizing minutes of film - and it looks like it could have been extraordinary. Although the film seems to have been cursed, many movies every year are announced but never get finished. Thus, "Lost in La Mancha" shows the lay public what actually happens when film-making goes awry. The directors (Keith Fulton & Louis Pepe) know their topic well, as they've worked with Gilliam before; they made the behind-the-scenes documentary that appears on the DVD for "Twelve Monkeys." As such, they had a great deal of access to Gilliam, and he seems very comfortable discussing the catastrophes. The narration by Jeff Bridges is fair but a bit too sparse. Ultimately, the documentary is interesting but somewhat insubstantial and no-frills, which does impinge somewhat on the overall enjoyment of the movie. Make sure, though, that you watch it all the way through the end credits - the "coming soon" gag is hilarious."