Lost in La Mancha (2002)

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Shows the difficulty of making a film

Teases you with what a finished product might look like

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Lost in La Mancha

Studio:  IFC

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  August 30, 2002

MPAA Rating:  R


Ok, act like things are going well…

Narrated by Jeff Bridges, Terry Gilliam’s attempt to bring his film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to the screen is chronicled from its grass roots beginning to its disastrous end.

Directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, Lost in La Mancha was a documentary that was well received by critics.  It received multiple awards and nominations for its production.

Much like something like American Movie, Lost in La Mancha shows how difficult it is to make a film.  Terry Gilliam had previously worked with the filmmakers while making 12 Monkeys and decided to do the same with The Man Who Killed Don Quixote which was a pet project of Gilliam’s for years.  The shooting focuses mostly around the preproduction (due to massive problems getting ready to shoot) and then the short, quick death of the film soon after shooting commenced.


Back problems…check!

The documentary almost feels like damage control.  First I imagine that the film is an attempt to get some of the money back from the failed production. Scenes like Gilliam’s shooting of the water fall scene with Johnny Depp are painful just for the fact that the backers of the projects are on set watching as the whole film is imploding.  The film also sets out to paint Gilliam as a victim of the situation which as seen in this documentary, he is.

Gilliam as shown in the documentary got a bad reputation after the failure of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in 1988.  This feels like a try to salvage some of that reputation because if The Man Who Killed Don Quixote had been shelved without this documentary, he would have looked like the bad guy again.  It however is obvious from the documentary, that so many unforeseen problems occurred (floods, jet fighters, ruptured discs) that Gilliam couldn’t have possibly finished the cursed film (yes, others have failed to make Don Quixote also).


You can lead a film to backers, but you can’t make them pay

Gilliam however does lose control.  He seems almost paralyzed at points by his failure of Munchausen that he forgets this film in trying not to make the same mistakes again.  Near the end of the documentary, when the film is crumbling, he’s visually shaken…It isn’t what you want to see if you are a backer, a crew member, or a cast member.

Lost in La Mancha is almost a sad film.  It is obvious that Terry Gilliam loves the story and early shots of the film have a lot of what makes his movies fun.  There is still work being done to bring The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to the screen and I would love to see it happen sometime…not because I have a love of Don Quixote, but because you can see how much it means to an interesting director that loves to direct.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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