Fighting Windmills
Lost in La Mancha
Review by Ross Anthony

It takes a Don Quixote to create a film about Don Quixote. But what does it take to make a film about a film about Don Quixote? Answer: A behind the scenes crew with the discipline to keep the tape rolling without reaction, the taste and artistic/human appreciation for the subject to paint a picture in the colors even he would have chosen and lastly --the invisibility of a fly on the wall.

But what sparks this solid work into full ironic splendor is the calamity of fiction striking like lightening all over real life.

"Lost in La Mancha" captures with real surreality director Terry Gilliam -- probably best known by the masses as illustrator/animator for the old British comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus," but best appreciated by film lovers for his tremendous contributions to cinema: "Brazil" being his masterpiece. But he'd also directed such wonderful pictures as "Time Bandits," "Fisher King," "Holy Grail" and "Baron Munchausen." The later of which, so riddled with problems and over-budget drafts that Terry was left with a reputation as a director out of control.

Dead set on making "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" anyway, Terry takes the production of his "Quixote" to Spain where the crew attempt to "make a Hollywood film without Hollywood." With half the necessary budget, they launch with no room for error. Errors become the least of their problems as a steady stream of unforeseeable tragic travesty plague the cast and crew, squeezing Gilliam to cry out -- "And the windmills fight back!"

I'm a big Gilliam fan -- love his finesse with the surreal, his sense of fun and humor against the dark edge of reality. I'd even sent him my manuscript "Rodney Appleseed" to produce back before it hit print. So, I admit bias. Nonetheless, my guest also loved this film (which by the way, is not a Gilliam production). Kudos! Well done! Thank you to Pepe & Fulton for finally giving us Quixote.

This "behind the scenes" tape is artistic, caringly objective, yet sensitive and better than many full feature productions. Pepe & Fulton started the project at Gilliam's request. Gilliam agreed to wear a microphone and never once turned it off. In fact, as his production started unraveling, P&F began feeling queasy about continuing their little documentary. (In "The Hamster Factor," an early Gilliam "12 Monkeys" behind the scenes tape also by P&F, when things heated up between Gilliam and his producers, P&F cut the sound and turned their camera on a bowl of fruit salad.) But Gilliam was adamant about Quixote, flat out telling them, "This project has been so long in the making and so miserable that someone needs to get a film out of it -- and it doesn't look like it's going to be me."

  • Lost in La Mancha. Copyright © 2003.
  • Starring Terry Gilliam and the Cast and Crew of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."
  • Directed and Written by Keith Fulton and Loius Pepe.
  • Produced Lucy Darwin at Quixote/Low Key/Eastcroft. An IFC release.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:05:08 PDT