|Johnny Depp gets some wicked highlights in Lost in La Mancha.|
We meet Gilliam and his crew in the weeks before filming begins. The nature of the production requires that different departments are spread across Europe - seamstresses work in this country, the makeup department is in another - and there is the feeling that, although the director sees every shot very clearly in his mind's eye, not quite enough planning has been done. But the filmmakers are optimistic, happy to get the long-awaited project rolling. Then the cast begins to trickle in.
In the week before cameras roll, we see two potential roadblocks: One involves the casting of Vanessa Paradis (girlfriend of cast member Johnny Depp). More importantly, Quixote is to be played by a Frenchman, Jean Rochefort, who is physically ideal but has only seven months of English lessons under his belt. As we soon learn, his line readings are doused in a thick, syrupy accent - which might be all right, were it the Don's Spanish accent, but is instead unmistakably Gallic. (Damned French, not content only to ruin Dubya's party ...)
The real problem with Rochefort, sadly, is a herniated disc that makes him totally unfit for equestrian duty, which is pretty much required if you're going to go tilting at windmills. In the week of shooting before this injury is diagnosed, the production is beset
|Jean Rochefort dresses up like Don Quixote.|
Lost chronicles these setbacks in deadpan fashion, but the really wrenching thing is seeing Gilliam and company as they react to them. It is heartbreaking to learn that the director is neither foolhardy nor egomaniacal, but maintains a determined optimism, trying in a very un-Quixotic way to work through obstacles as they crop up. He can't, and eventually admits defeat, and it might be enough to make your eyes moist.
Shot plainly on video and adorned with occasional amateurish digital effects and stiff narration, the only visual
| LOST IN LA MANCHA |
Dir. and writ. Keith Fulton, Louis Pepe; feat. Jeff Bridges (voice), Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, Jean Rochefort (R)