The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018): Terry Gilliam’s Snail Crawl


“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is directed by Terry Gilliam (Brazil, Time Bandits) and stars Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Girls), Jonathan Pryce (Glengarry Glen Ross, Tomorrow Never Dies), Stellan Skarsgård (Good Will Hunting, Mamma Mia!), Olga Kurylenko (The November Man, Oblivion), and Joana Ribeiro (Madre Paula, Dancin’ Days). This film is about a film director named Toby who runs into a Spanish cobbler from his past. Said cobbler believes himself to be Don Quixote. Throughout the runtime, the movie displays the two’s adventures.

Now this movie is actually pretty special, not necessarily to me, but to the history of cinema and its director, Terry Gilliam. If you know Terry Gilliam and what he has done in the past, you’d know that he has worked on multiple “Monty Python” films, “Brazil,” and “Time Bandits.” Regardless of the movies that he made in the past that general audience members do know, this is one that a bunch of people may have known by name, but never have gotten a chance to look into. Because this has a special place in cinematic history. It’s a movie that has embodied the term “development hell.” No matter how hard this visionary tries to successfully make a film, he fails. Actors keep getting sick or losing interest, sets break apart, funding goes down the drain, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! In fact, as several sources suggest, including the film itself in its opening titles, this took about three decades to complete. And if you notice some of the casting choices and complicated set pieces in the film, it is somewhat easy to see why.

But the question I have is this. Is the movie too outdated for today’s era? Does it tend to hold up? I honestly think it does. While I have not seen any of the “Monty Python” films to this day (almost saw “Life of Brian” once though), I can see why people come back to those films, and the humor, from what I gathered, must have translated from those films into this one. In fact, when it comes to this film, it is nothing short of hysterical! The chemistry between the two main characters is delightful, and even reminds me of George and Lennie from “Of Mice and Men.” It’s not exactly a precise comparison, but if you have been exposed to both properties, you’d be able to see why I’d say that.

In fact, part of me is almost surprised that this movie’s story turned out as well as it did, because when it comes to “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” I really heard a lot more regarding its production value and whatever comes from the technical side of things, which we will get into momentarily, but I am almost surprised that the story turned out as well as it did. Granted, with this much time to work on a production, it would be somewhat expected that the story would go through tons of revision to get the best possible product. And I think, while not perfect, the story is definitely worth noting. Conceptually, the idea of someone thinking they actually ARE a character they’ve played in their past is nothing short of genius, but even some of the greatest ideas had poor execution. Hey, let’s make a “Star Wars” film where Darth Vader is a kid! It’ll be full of digital creatures, critical space politics, and highly choreographed fighting! Alright! Chop chop! We’ve got until 1999, let’s party like it’s the end of the world!

I already talked about the dynamic duo of this film, but when it comes to their individual characters, they are kind of great on their own. In fact, Adam Driver’s character sort of reminds me of myself in some ways. He’s a director who is really into his craft, he tends to remain somewhat calm but is not afraid to be honest, and he seems somewhat motivational too. I think Adam Driver was good casting, and despite watching the documentary “Lost In La Sancha” and doing research on this film, I honestly think that it is hard for me to see anybody else playing Driver’s character. As for “Don Quixote,” I thought he was perfect. It is only April, and I don’t even know if I will technically qualify this film as a 2019 movie, but if I do, Jonathan Pryce as Don Quixote is the best performance of 2019 thus far. He’s basically Gandalf if he collided with an elementary school teacher. Compared to Driver, Pryce is hyperactive, upbeat, and often speaks in a much higher pitch. Then again, when you’re still the guy playing Kylo Ren, you’re going to need to practice in order to continue possessing your dark and brooding role. In fact, this duo’s chemistry is so good that when the movie moves toward’s its climax, all the buildup to it is definitely worth showing. I won’t go into the climax, but something really weird and interesting happens. Yes, that’s completely vague, I don’t care, figure it out for yourself. This allows yourselves to use your imaginations, it’s powerful!

As far as this movie goes as a production, I think the cinematography is great, the locations almost come out of a storybook, the sets are complicated to the point where you would either wish to visit them or at least wonder how they were conceived. It definitely has that feeling you would get out of a “Lord of the Rings” film, although in a slightly smaller scale, which isn’t really a bad thing. There are some neat edits to be seen, and if you watch the movie, you can definitely get an image as to why this took years to make. Just seeing the first windmill within minutes sets the tone for the entire movie (alongside the opening titles), I knew I was in for a ride, and I definitely walked out with… what’s a tamer version of an adrenaline rush? In fact, when it comes to my experience, the movie tends to showcase that 110%, because I saw this film under an engagement from Fathom Events since they were saying the film was going to be in theaters for one night. Turns out it is a getting a VOD and theatrical run starting this weekend, but still. As part of the event, I stayed for the credits and got a quick look into how the film was made. In fact, it is easy to tell that everyone was passionate about Gilliam’s project. There was even a brief clip with Adam Driver saying “I just love his movies.” Knowing Gilliam’s track record, it is easy to see why. In fact, one of my most recent reviews was for the movie “Us,” and I said that the movie intrigued me enough to make me want to take a glance at “Get Out,” I can say something similar about seeing this movie and Terry Gilliam’s filmography. I kinda want to watch more “Monty Python,” “Time Bandits,” (my dad is BEGGING me to watch that), “Brazil,” and perhaps whatever else he has up his sleeves. Let’s just hope his future projects don’t fall apart like this one!

In the end, “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is a marvelous movie for cinematic adventures! Knowing the backstory behind this movie, this is what it must have been like. You’re a kid trying to build a complex LEGO set, one in which you have been putting years of effort into only to have your younger sibling smash it to the ground. Again. Again. And again. Knowing that such a development hell-esque movie could turn out like this, gives me hope for the industry going forward. I’m glad that the end result had come out to something that feels the opposite of someone just wanting to get something done so they don’t have to do it again. You know, kinda like when you’re a dad dragged by your young teen daughter to a One Direction concert. Terry Gilliam has obviously put his heart and soul into something that isn’t quite perfect (much like this film’s progress), but is definitely worth highlighting as an important piece of art in cinematic history. I’m going to give “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! Pretty soon I’m going to have my review up for “Apollo 11,” the recent documentary which reveals footage of the mission of the same name. Also, next week, we’ve got some important movie news! If December 25th is Christmas, then APRIL 25th is Avengersmas. Wait… Avengersmas? Endgameas? Endgamas? Infinitymas? Marvelmas? Whatever, I’ll let everyone have their own interpretation on the matter. One of my upcoming reviews, is for the biggest movie, well… ever. 22 installments, 11 years, no reboots, and a crapton of end credit scenes. Next week I am going to “Avengers: Endgame” opening night and holy crap, it is rare for me to have this much anticipation for a film! I am honestly shocked myself because I’ve often thought of some recent installments to the MCU as less memorable compared to some others, but not only do I have faith in this one, but this is practically an event. And I am certainly glad to be a part of the event. April 25th, you cannot come soon enough!

Also, last week I revealed a trailer for something I am calling “Project 2020,” I figured if you guys didn’t see it yet and have some sort of curiosity as to checking it out, I will provide a link to the video down below, please check it out. Or don’t, it’s your guys’ world and I just live in it. Be sure to follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! I want to know, did you see “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a movie that you like that is known for going through some kind of development hell? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!



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