September 22nd, 2019

Dogfight [by the_gneech]

Found in La Mancha

I didn't think there was anything I wanted to see at this year's London Film Festival, but then they announced a surprise late addition: a preview screening of Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, plus Q&A with Terry afterwards. I bought a ticket as soon as booking opened.

Years ago I watched Lost in La Mancha, the documentary cataloguing the series of disasters that prevented the film from being made the first time round, so I was eager to see the final product. I loved it to bits.

It's got lukewarm reviews elsewhere, so I should include a couple of disclaimers: 1) I am very easy to please when it comes to Don Quixote, and 2) we all got free T-shirts. (Terry made us put them on after the film, and took a photo.)

The plot: film director Toby, played by Adam Driver (whence my new favourite movie credit, 'Driver to Mr Driver'), revisits the location of his student film, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, and discovers that the Spanish cobbler he chose to play the lead is now convinced he really is the Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance. Toby, in the role of Sancho Panza, is dragged into a series of surreal, spectacular, silly and scary adventures.

Jonathan Pryce is perfect as Don Quixote, and clearly having a whale of a time with it. Terry said in the Q&A that Pryce, an old friend, had wanted the part from the very beginning, and Terry had to keep fobbing him off because he wasn't old enough or skinny enough. Finally he has matured into the role.

I love Don Quixote - I think it may be the greatest story ever written - and I love that it keeps changing and evolving. As the film promises, Don Quixote will never die.

The icing on the cake was bumping into two friends on my way to NFT1 who were also heading for the screening, and going for a coffee afterwards. In our T-shirts.