It is, according to its director, “the Sisyphean rock that keeps rolling back”. A film, more than 20 years in the making, that’s been stalled by vanishing funds, flash floods and disease. Yet Terry Gilliam is again pushing The Man Who Killed Don Quixote up the hill.
The director’s treasured adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’s book has seen years of false starts. A who’s-who of acting talent have been attached to play the arrogant, dreamy Don (Jean Roquefort, Robert Duvall, John Hurt) and an approximation of his staunch squire Sancho Panza (Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, Jack O’Connell). All departed, for reasons ranging from the dull (Depp’s been too busy making films for Disney) to the life-changing (Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, just as the film entered another round of pre-production). The most famous mis-fire, which starred Depp and Roquefort, was chronicled in the 2002 documentary Lost in La Mancha. The tagline for the doc read “They’ve got a story, but have lost the plot”.