Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
Is there any film project more tenacious than Terry Gilliam‘s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote? The film just cannot be, er, killed, no matter what happens. Casting problems? It will overcome. Funding and script issues? This movie shrugs them off. Acts of God aren’t even enough.
The film first came together in 2000, with Gilliam directing Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort in the lead roles. The production was beset by disastrous weather, interruption from planes, and injury to Rochefort. The production was scrapped, inspiring the documentary Lost in La Mancha.
The film was revived in 2009 with a rewritten script and possible new casting, with Robert Duvall replacing Rochefort and Ewan McGregor eventually taking Depp’s role. But financing for that version dried up and the project went dormant again. Now the film’s screenwriter, Tony Grisoni, says the film is potentially happening once more.
Us survivors of ‘Don Q’ are a strange kind of dysfunctional family. Every year since we have rewritten the screenplay. And we’ve got quite good at it. You will be pleased to hear the Don is back up and in the saddle and ready to ride under new colours.
That’s a good indicator that the movie could eventually happen, though we’ll need a lot more detail before proclaiming that you’ll eventually see The Man Who Killed Don Quixote at a theater near you. Last year Gilliam said he was hoping to make the film this spring, but he also said that Ewan McGregor had fallen away. So there is more casting to do.
Here’s the last reported official story synopsis for the film, though given the degree to which it has been rewritten in the past, I would be hesitant to say it remains accurate:
From the unique mind of Terry Gilliam comes his most anticipated film. A decade in the unmaking. Don Quixote leaps into life in this bold and high-spirited comedy. Don Quixote. Eternal optimist. Madman. Knight. A noble soul who never lets truth get in the way of a great story. Toby. Frustrated young filmmaker turned unwitting sidekick. Mistaken for Sancho Panza, Toby is charmed into the old man’s eternal quest for his lost lady-love. As their adventures across Spain veer from the sublime to the ridiculous, Quixote reveals himself as a delusional idealist. Yet could he be the real knight of legend? Torn between reality and fantasy, Toby must charge headlong into his own imagination. Don Quixote rides again.
Meanwhile, another development that happened on the film in late 2011 is that Alfalfa Studio posted a new logo for the film that was evidently commissioned by Gilliam. You can see that ont he right-hand side of the header image above. Again, it’s a small detail, but contributes to the hope that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is not yet dead.