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Lost in La Mancha
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I went to see the documentary Lost in La Mancha last night with some friends.

The film is an account of Terry Gilliam's struggle to put his vision of Don Quixote on film. Basically, he couldn't. His bad rep for bloated budgets made it difficult to get financial backing in Hollywood, so he mostly went with European investors.

Things looked fairly rough in pre-production, but when the actual shooting started, things went to complete shit. The location in Spain turned out to be next to a NATO bombing range, and constant F-16 flights interfered with shooting dialogue. Then the second day of shooting a freak storm washed out everything, damaging a lot of their equipment and completely changing the colors of the landscape so that scenes already in the can would have to be scrapped.

Extras hadn't rehearsed their scenes. The Johnny Depp's trained horse wouldn't act the way it was supposed to. And the final straw was the lead, Jean Rochefort, who was to play Don Quixote. He developed prostate problems and ended up with a double herniated disk. He was in immense pain and couldn't even sit on a horse.

It was an interesting film, if a bit rough. And ultimately it was a black comedy, a tragedy about trying to produce the elaborate art of film.

Mostly it made me glad to be a writer. Writing's hard, but it doesn't depend on huge amounts of money up-front or the orchestration of dozens of people. All the sets, characters, and props are in your head, and all you have to do is get them down in words.

Anyway, it was an interesting film, but it's not in wide release. I'd recommend it on video if you're a big Gilliam fan, otherwise it probably wouldn't do much for you.

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