Terry Gilliam Breathes Life Back Into The Man Who Killed Don Quixote


Fifteen years after Terry Gilliam first tried to film his unique take on the 17th century literary classic ‘The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha,’ the legendary director has announced that his third attempt at The Man Who Killed Don Quixote should begin production on September 29th, 2014.

The novel, written by Spanish author, poet and playwright Miguel De Cervantes, follows the adventures of Alonso Quixana as he sets out to revive the concept of chivalry under the name ‘Don Quixote.’ Gilliam’s version takes that source material and combines it with modern satire, diverting from the original tale early on by switching Quixote’s sidekick, Sancho Panza, for a 21st century advertising executive who has been “thrown back in time.”

The first chapter of the long, painful story of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was documented in the 2002 film Lost In La Mancha. Intended as a ‘making of’ featurette for the original 1998 production of the film, it eventually became a feature-length movie about the extraordinary collapse of the venture – precipitated by flooding, injury, insurance issues, financial problems and military fly-pasts. Refusing to let the story go, Gilliam revisited the project in 2005, with pre-production re-commencing in 2008. When funding collapsed in 2010, Don Quixote was once again put out to pasture.

Never one to be cowed in the face of opposition, Gilliam is riding the wave of goodwill generated by his latest film – The Zero Theorem – and a highly publicized Monty Python reunion (in London, in July), right into a new attempt to bring his Don Quixote to the screen.

Speaking to Empire he had this to say:

“It’s obsessive…desperate…pathetic…foolish. It’s this growth, this tumour that’s become part of my system that has to get out if I’m to survive.”

Gilliam has recruited producer Adrian Guerra (Buried, Red Lights, Grand Piano) to help ensure the production makes it to the finish line this time, although casting and financing have yet to be confirmed. Indeed, with an already hectic schedule for 2014, you could say that the idealistic 73 year old Gilliam is, himself, gloriously quixotic in nature.

“I’ve got the opera (the ENO’s Benvenuto Cellini) to get out the way first and we start rehearsals in April. That’s for June, and there’s a week between the opera and Python rehearsals. And then we are, at the moment, starting shooting Quixote in the last week of September. If it’s happening. Or not.”

With a producer, concept art, an estimated start date, and a plan to shoot on the Canary Islands in place, things are looking cautiously optimistic for Gilliam’s passion project, which is crammed full of classic Gilliam themes – including time travel, madness and the battle between individuality and conformity.

Following the announcement of this latest ambition, all eyes will be on the performance of The Zero Theorem, due for release on March 14th, 2014. Starring Christoph Waltz, David Thewlis, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton, the film centres on a computer hacker who is trying to uncover the reason for human existence, but must battle attempts by the ‘Management’ to derail his quest.

As Terry Gilliam continues to battle all attempts to derail his own quest to realise his decades-long dream, any success enjoyed by The Zero Theorem will likely go a long way to letting the director finally introduce the world to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. We can’t wait to meet him.

About the author


Sarah Myles

Sarah Myles is a freelance writer. Originally from London, she now lives in North Yorkshire with her husband and two children.