Posted on Thursday, October 13th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
The news that Disney is making a film version of Don Quixote, the legendary 1605 book by Miguel de Cervantes that is often credited as being the root of the modern novel, is, by itself, not that surprising. Classic literally characters being reinvented by Hollywood is nothing new – just ask everyone from Sherlock Holmes to Robin Hood. But for film fans, Don Quixote carries a little extra weight. The news that the biggest entertainment conglomerate in the industry is taking on this iconic work will hopefully not be enough to give poor Terry Gilliam a heart attack.
The Hollywood Reporter has the story and it’s the kind of news that should stir up all kinds of mixed feelings. One one level, you have Billy Ray working on the screenplay and he is one of the great unsung directors and screenwriters working today. His first two films as a director, Shattered Glass and Breach, are the kind of thoughtful, low-key dramas that everyone claims no one makes anymore. His writing career features a few misses, but it also includes rock-solid movies like Captain Phillips and The Hunger Games. He’s a smart guy who tends to write smart movies. He is also credited on Volcano, but I don’t want to hold that against him.
But on the other level, THR reports that Disney wants a movie that “recalls the madcap and fantastical nature of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies,” a statement that probably just sent a couple dozen elderly literature professors to an early grave.
For those who fell asleep in class, Don Quixote tells the story of Alonso Quixano, an elderly man who loses his mind, becomes convinced he’s a knight, and embarks on a series of ridiculous adventures alongside his sidekick, Sancho Panza. Naturally, his fractured state of mind leads to all kinds of strange situations, like in the novel’s most famous segment, where he attacks windmills that he thinks are giants.
It’s easy to imagine what Disney sees here. A familiar title! Fantasy! Adventure! Potential for silly comedy! Maybe even a role for Johnny Depp wearing a funny hat! And this is the point where I have to return to Mr. Terry Gilliam, the brilliant filmmaker whose habit of biting every hand that tries to feed him has resulted in his own adaptation of Don Quixote being delayed time and time again. His version, titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, is also a fantastical riff on the material. The first version of the script involved a time traveler (played by Johnny Depp, of all people) getting sucked into the classic tale. That production literally fell apart days into filming, a stunning and saddening tale captured in the great documentary Lost in La Mancha. The project has evolved over the years, with its budget waxing and waning as various actors drop in and drop out. The most recent version, which is set to star Michael Palin and Adam Driver, was just delayed again less than two weeks ago.
In other words, God’s ongoing quest to destroy Terry Gilliam has seen the Almighty recruit a partner in the form of Disney. That sound you hear is Gilliam raising his fist to the sky, cursing his creator, and hoping that Disney’s version won’t put the final stake through his film. However, it should be noted that the great Orson Welles also struggled and failed to get a Don Quixote movie made. Perhaps it is the source material, not the director, that is cursed?
Anyway, Disney’s Don Quixote is being produced by Gordon Gray, whose credits include The Rookie and Invincible. No directors are currently attached.Cool Posts From Around the Web: