Terry Gilliam Sees A 'Blessing' In His First Failure With The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

"The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" is one of the most infamous films of all time. Premiering in 2018, it took a staggering 29 years for director Terry Gilliam to get it made. From natural disasters to dried-up funding, it seems like every possible obstacle that could plague the film's production ended up happening. Is the final product starring Adam Driver good as it stands? That might be debatable, but perhaps its nearly thirty years in development ended up being for the best.

Gilliam certainly thinks that what we got was better than what could have been released, had his original vision of "Don Quixote" been released. In an interview with the YouTube channel Perspective, he revealed that the decades-long delay in filming had actually turned out to be a good thing because he realized the script he had written wasn't very good:

"What happened after finally getting the script back after seven years, and not reading it during that time, I opened up and thought, 'This doesn't work.' And so, I've actually rethought a lot of it. ... So in some ways, the fact that it failed when it did might have been a blessing."

That doesn't mean, however, that the entire story was rewritten. Rather, he evaluated what worked and what didn't, so what ended up on the chopping block? According to him, the scenes that became legendary for their difficulty to film.

"Nothing you saw in the documentary is ... in the film," Gilliam said. "None of those scenes, I cut them all out, they were all gone."

Take control, and the world soon follows

Wait, a documentary? If you aren't entirely familiar with the story of Gilliam's problems making "Don Quixote," then you need to watch the 2002 documentary "Lost in La Mancha." Intended to be a "making-of" documentary to coincide with the film's projected early-2000s release, it provides a first-hand account of the original vision's various production woes. Seriously, the first day of shooting was essentially ruined because they didn't realize their set was near a NATO aircraft training area. If you think that's wild, then you're not prepared to see the other events that plagued the production.

However, due to a combination of Gilliam's rewrites and more secure funding from several different production companies, "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" finally finished filming in 2017. It premiered at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews, but the fact that it even exists in a finished product is nothing short of a miracle. You can now even watch a definitive retrospective on the project, from its initial conception to its eventual release, in a "Lost in La Mancha" sequel titled "He Dreams of Giants."