As a filmmaker, Terry Gilliam will likely be remembered for his persistence almost as much as his visionary talent. The man simply does not give in to obstacles, whether those obstacles are studio execs, production delays or, in the case of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film that just refuses to let you make it after seven tries in two decades.
Originally the story of a 21st-century marketing executive thrown back in time to the days of Don Quixote, Gilliam's film began production in 1998 with Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort in the leading roles, and the production seemed doomed almost from the start. Jets flew overhead and ruined the audio, flash floods washed the equipment away, and Rochefort -- whom Gilliam chose for Don Quixote after a two-year casting process -- was forced to stop shooting due to health issues. The initial failure of the film led to the behind-the-scenes documentary Lost in La Mancha.
Gilliam's tried over and over again to make the film, and over time his concept for it has evolved, as he said last summer:
“I keep incorporating my own life into it and shifting it. The basic underlying premise of that the version Johnny was involved in was that he actually was going to be transported back to the 17th century, and now it all takes place now, it's contemporary. It's more about how movies can damage people … Our main character actually made a Don Quixote movie a lot earlier in his history, and the effect it had on many people wasn't very nice. Some people go mad, some people turn to drink, some people become whores.”
Gilliam has dubbed the film "my madness," a project that he couldn't abandon even if he tried, and now all his years of clinging to Don Quixote might finally pay off. According to The Playlist, the new deal between Amazon and Gilliam that was announced last month does include Don Quixote, and the film could be granted a limited theatrical run followed by a place in the company's massive streaming lineup, which is increasingly including original content.
“Amazon and the like are interesting because they are all still in their formative stages,” Gilliam said. “They’re not a bureaucracy that has been around for years like the studio system, and so they’re full of people that are open to new and fresh ideas. So it’s a good time to be working with people like that.”
Gilliam's current casting plans include John Hurt (Only Lovers Left Alive) as Don Quixote and Jack O'Connell (Unbroken) in the executive role previously held by Depp. It's unclear when we might see the film, but with a company like Amazon in Gilliam's corner ready to pour some money into his efforts, this long-awaited movie could finally get made.
(Via The Playlist)