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Terry Gilliam has burned through yet another Don Quixote movie. His last attempt to turn the deluded, windmill battling literary hero into a feature film at least resulted in a pretty good 2002 documentary called Lost in La Mancha, about the bad luck, mismanagement, and lack of money which torpedoed the project. When this one goes under, it seems unlikely the world will get even that much out of it.
Gilliam tells Variety that funding for his second Don Quixote attempt, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, collapsed about a month and a half ago. The Quixote movie was supposed to be shooting with Robert Duvall and Ewan McGregor in the film’s lead roles right now, but instead Terry’s hanging out at the Deauville American Film Festival. You have to wonder whether he actually wants to make this thing. Has he given up? It doesn’t really sound like he’s trying. Gilliam admits, “Don Quixote gives me something to look forward to, always. Maybe the most frightening thing is to actually make the film.”
It’s easy to feel bad for Gilliam and to blame all of this on a curse, but at some point you have to think a lot of this is his fault. He has to be doing something wrong. This can’t be an accident. He’s a brilliantly talented director and I can’t think of anyone more ideally suited to bring the world of Don Quixote to life. It could easily be his greatest film. And yet, it never happens.
At least he actually managed to shoot some footage last time, before the production collapsed. This time he didn’t even get that far. Should he try again, who’d be crazy enough to give him the money for it? What actor would be fool enough to agree to do it? You’d be better off chasing windmills.
In the meantime Joel Silver is probably still planning an adventure themed version of the Don Quixote story which misses the point entirely (in it he’s not crazy just a brave knight fighting actual giants disguised as windmills) and will probably only make it harder for Gilliam to ever get his version made. I’m sure that Silver will have no problem at all getting hundreds of millions of dollars for his movie, because that’s just how this world works.
Update! I've inserted my Babel Fish and gotten more information on the status of Don Quixote from the French site Mr. T's Movie Clic where Gilliam tells them that he's not so worried about Ewan McGregor not being available when he finally gets around to making the movie, but Robert Duvall. Even if he gets funding, he now won't be able to shoot the film until September of 2011 because he'll be busy with a production of Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust" at the English National Opera.