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The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 15 rating

Two decades in the making, Terry Gilliam’s wildly imaginative Cervantes adaptation is finally with us, and it’s everything we have come to expect from this visionary filmmaker.

Fantasy 2017 133 mins

Director: Terry Gilliam


Only a Terry Gilliam film could have its ‘making of’ screened almost two decades before the actual film is released. Lost in La Mancha was the 2002 documentary about Gilliam’s first attempt to adapt Miguel de Cervantes’ picaresque novel. That production ended up uncompleted. Nothing if not determined – and perhaps not dissimilar to the errant nobleman he is hellbent on bringing to the screen – Gilliam persisted and finally his madcap, humorously heraldic mission reaches us.

Co-written by Tony Grisoni, Gilliam’s fellow traveller across all these years, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is far from a straightforward adaptation of that classic book. The narrative switches between four worlds: a shoot in Spain where frazzled director Toby (Adam Driver) is attempting to film his own adaptation of Cervantes’ novel; a decade before, when Toby arrived in the same area and shot a low-budget black-and-white version; the filmmaker’s journey with the eponymous star of the first film (Jonathan Pryce) as they escape a series of ‘accidents’; and a hallucinatory dream world where characters from each of the narratives converge. Visually intoxicating, Gilliam offers up a jocular meditation on the pervasive influence of myths, the corrupting nature of power and – particularly relevant to this singular director – the insanity of the filmmaking process.