Lost in La Mancha (2002) is a fascinating documentary that showcases the harsh realities of film-making and how it can all go wrong.
Film director Terry Gilliam is best known for directing films such as The Fisher King (1991) and 12 Monkeys (1995). However, in his endeavour to produce Lost in La Mancha, based on the tale of Don Quixote, everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Actors falling ill, thunderstorms and even military jets do their best to ruin the production film set. It seems the film was never meant to be as financial disaster kicks in with their limited budget, where ultimately the film was cancelled and Gilliam's dream could never come to fruition.
Its a shame to see the project fall as the glimpses we see shows that the film has potential. One cannot help but feel sympathy for Gilliam as he simply tries to achieve his dream that he worked so long and hard after. Despite being very unfortunate, one cannot ignore that perhaps Gilliam was his own undoing as the entire project felt overwhelming and disorganised with a lack of planning and coordination. At times, they seemed to be shooting scenes on a whim, rather than to recoup and resolve a new solution. The fact that there was no backup plan with the illness of main actor Jean Rochefort, ultimately led to the demise of the project.
If anything, the great lesson to be learnt is that good planning is essential to the success of a project. Things will go wrong - so even more planning is required in preparation for these unfortunate mishaps.
With such an ambitious project and limited budget, I'm surprised that creating an animated film was not considered. With the very nature of the film, one would think animation could lend nicely to the world of Don Quixote where he uses his imagination to see the world through the eyes as an adventuring hero ; not to mention the seemingly complex scenes that required elaborate sets and a multitude of props.
Nevertheless, while the documentary itself is a little depressing, the crew's 'sense of humour and commitment to the project shine through', that is rather encouraging. Ultimately, Lost in La Mancha presents an honest portrayal of the highs and lows of film making, filled with the humour and human drama that it all encompasses.
From the latest news, it seems Terry Gilliam's latest attempt to make a film about Don Quixote has 'stalled after his financial backers pulled out', as of 7 September 2010. It has now been more than 10 years since Gilliam first attempt to produce his film of Don Quixote.