Thursday, June 11, 2015

No matter how hopeless: Terry Gilliam's mad quest

Terry Gilliam's infamously delayed Don Quixote is finally happening on Amazon, says Terry Gilliam
By Jacob Kastrenakes
on June 11, 2015 12:16 pm

Terry Gilliam really wants to make an adaptation of Don Quixote. He's been trying to get it made since the late ’90s — Variety reports that he's made seven attempts in total — but this latest attempt may finally get it done. At least, a series of reports and quotes from Gilliam suggest as much. And the most surprising part: it may happen thanks to Amazon.


Gilliam told Indiewire this week that Amazon is partially funding his adaptation, titled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, and that it plans to stream the film following a short run in theaters. Assuming production doesn't go awry again — it can't happen again, right? — this would be a smart grab by Amazon. It might not attract wide attention, but it'll certainly get Amazon credit from cinephiles, which isn't a bad way to kick off its original film program.

There hasn't been an official announcement from Amazon (perhaps it would rather wait, given the film's history), but the story seems to be adding up. Gilliam said back in Augustthat his Don Quixote had funding, and Deadline later reported quite vaguely that he had a deal with Amazon. Now Gilliam is stitching the stories together. There's even been casting news, which at the very least shows that there's real movement here. The film is, once again, supposed to shoot next year. Entertainment Weekly reports that it received confirmation of the news from Amazon.

Perhaps it shouldn't be so surprising that it took a new media company looking to make a name for itself to make this risky, fan-favorite project start heading toward reality again. It's essentially the same strategy Netflix took when it restarted Arrested Development or, to a lesser extent, that Hulu is trying to take with The Mindy Project. It may not appeal to an enormous audience, but it makes people pay attention.


And Gilliam fans have certainly been paying attention to the long and strange journey that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has taken on its way to the screen. In the late ’90s, Gilliam began work on the project and eventually started filming, in 2000, with Johnny Depp in the lead role. A series of issues, including flash floods that destroyed sets, quickly caused production to shut down. Since then, Gilliam has tried unsuccessfully to get the movie going again with different actors. Now, even the script is different.

"I keep incorporating my own life into it and shifting it," Gilliam told The Wrap in August. "The basic underlying premise of the version Johnny was involved in was that he actually was going to be transported back to the 17th century, and now it all takes place now, it’s contemporary. It’s more about how movies can damage people." Basically, it sounds like the story is going meta and incorporating history of the failed Don Quixote into the newDon Quixote. Hopefully we'll all be watching it on Amazon next year.


If you'd like to hear Richard Kiley's majestic performance of The Impossible Dream, start the video at 7:00. This was one of those things that doesn't happen any more: a 10-minute chunk of live theatre presented on The Ed Sullivan Show, uncut and uninterrupted. Kiley's performance here far surpasses the many studio versions, since his voice is actually not at its best (no doubt they'd already done a matinee performance that day) but slightly rough around the edges. Like any great singer, he decided to use it rather than fight it, giving him a heartbreaking catch in his voice in a few places, as if he is about to weep. The makeup seems overdone mainly because they're probably still in makeup from the matinee performance, and the facial expressions are exaggerated but would look fine from the audience. This is theatre, people.


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