The Impossible Dream

Posted by Lou. The time is 10.07pm here in London, UK.

You will remember that Bel recently reviewed Lost in La Mancha as part of her 14 Film in 7 Days orgy of DVDs. This reminded me that I have wanted to see this film for years, and thanks to amazon (I love you amazon) I've just watched it. Whoa. Holy fuck! I mean, I knew they were cursed with bad luck, but I didn't realise just quite how horrendous it was - almost biblical in scale as the set is literally washed away and the lead actor falls prey to physical fallibility...

The film took me back a few years to when I had just started my first film job as receptionist at the Film Commission. An epic NZ story of colonisation had just gone into production with one of our finest and most experienced filmmakers at the helm - like Gilliam I guess you would call him a genius, having made several of NZ's most revered films, but like Gilliam he was considered a bit too eccentric for Hollywood, having had a script rejected for a major film franchise on which he was signed to do a sequel for being "too out there". Let's just say, it was exciting for him to be back doing a NZ film, and a lot of high hopes and dollars rode on it...

Then the storms came. Wintery, horrible storms. The set was apparently awash with mud and absolutely freezing. And the lead actor fell ill - though in this case didn't help things much herself by taking the illness and escalating it tenfold from what it had to be. A flu shut the film down for more than a month. The media started calling (perhaps this is where I get my ability to be a firm telephone gatekeepers as nobody was getting through to anyone via my "innocent" taking of messages for people who were "unavailable"). People were running down hallways. Scurried meetings being held by worried looking people. As the schedule expanded the scope of the filming contracted. The Completion Bond guarantors moved in. The Director was taken off set. The DoP finished it up. Unlike The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film was made and released - but the completed product was one of the most disappointing things I have ever seen. I felt so gutted - having read the script and really loved the project for its epic New Zealand story - watching this pared-down, thrown-together reminder of what might have been but wasn't.

I guess what I'm trying to say is - I'm glad they pulled the plug on The Man Who Killed Don Quixote... but hope he can one day achieve the vision as it looked and sounded ah-may-zing.

Right, I guess next up would have to be finally getting round to watching the behind-the-scenes doc of the making of Apocalypse Now, Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, to complete my cautionary education into the dangers of setting out to make a movie... "to dream the impossible dream..."

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