APPARENTLY, director Terry Gilliam had the notion of filming “El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha” more than a decade ago. The result of his perseverance (released last May in France) is 132 very funny, very perceptive, minutes of pure cinema delight, mixing the high points of Cervantes’s novel (published in two parts in 1605 and 1615) with a well-judged satire on the professional, artistic, hubristic, cynical and creative madness called the movie industry.
Jonathan Pryce and Terry Gilliam have a long professional association. This time, Pryce plays an old Spanish cobbler whom tyro Hollywood director Toby (Adam Driver) early in his career had cast to play Don Q. Toby now has a professional creative reputation matched to a tyrannical personal reputation bordering on manic. Filming a contemporary version of Don Q in Spain, Toby rediscovers the old man, who now believes that he is indeed Cervantes’ immortal hero.
Sit back and watch a delightful intertwining of a 17th century classic with 21st century mastery of the moving image telling a classic story with style, imagination, great performances, spectacular Spanish locations, gently satirising movie industry political and financial machinations paraphrasing a line from an Irving Berlin musical theatre favourite – “there’s no interest like self interest”.
It’s not necessary to have read the books.
I’m somewhat surprised that “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is screening at only one local cinema and that I watched it alone. It’s refreshingly different and deserves wide exposure.