The fate of Terry Gilliam’s adaptation project of Don Quixote was, even before its final realization, a long and painful dress rehearsal of the attack on the windmills. So much so that the documentary Lost in la Mancha, about the catastrophic shooting in 2000 of the first unfinished version of the film, dedicated Terry Gilliam as the alter-ego of Don Quixote. From then on, it was for the filmmaker to exorcise a trauma that could be traced back to the already tumultuous filming of Baron de Münchhausen. He was right to persist, as the final result turns out to be a funny and clever synthesis of his cinema, while providing new keys to it. This is our critic of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote movie.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote movie critic
First of all, we must not be deluded, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote movie is not a major new breath in the director’s filmography. Its tendency to shut itself up for fifteen years in its own atypical universe without decompartmentalizing it is not denied.
This results in empty passages in the narrative structure of the film, which unnecessarily lengthens certain scenes. The footage does not escape some blunders in writing, especially concerning the caricatural treatment, not to say sexist, of the female characters. Because if it is relevant to make the sweetheart of the main character a disenchanted contender actress who has become an escort girl because of her social condition, bringing together all the clichés about Spanish women lacks panache, to say the least.
Finally, the staging does not invent anything new. It is even less marked by the imprint of the director, who seems to restrict his own visual grammar – there is only one wide-angle shot, for example – to fortunately better expose it in a colorful last act with abundant sets and costumes. which revives the filmic exuberance of the author.
This conclusion, where the entire place (a castle where we feast as in the days of the knights) is a playground in honor of a detestable billionaire, moreover reveals the deep intentions of Terry Gilliam: to synthesize his approach, his reflection on the true and the false, on madness and love to better highlight their anti-system dimension. Indeed, rather than contenting himself with confronting with irresistible humor the idealistic madness of Don Quixote with reality, he also confronts his real alter-ego, a failed filmmaker reduced to shooting commercials mischievously interpreted by Adam Driver, to the madness unhealthy and anxiety-provoking society.
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All his greatest quirks, egoism, hypocrisy, greed, male domination and even Islamophobia alienate the perception of the main character who ultimately prefers the healthy dementia of Don Quixote. Thus, all the ambivalence of Terry Gilliam’s cinema, where the madness of the sweetest dreams can instantly turn into the worst nightmare, finds a beautiful resonance in this criticism of the advertising industry which obviously refers to that of the cinema. against which the filmmaker has been fighting for decades.
It was not enough for Terry Gilliam to sprinkle the film with a few nods to the failure of his first shoot to demonstrate his triumph over the “mills of reality” which did not prevent him from releasing his film against the wind and tides more than twenty-five years after considering it. With The Man Who Killed Don Quixote movie, he embodies his own fight as a filmmaker to express his artistic vision and his desire for emancipation through madness.