Jane Foster looks at Terry Gilliam’s THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE.
It’s always interesting to watch how fads in film come and go, especially when it brings all that was good about the first time something was in fashion, and mixes it with a fresh current take, which somehow makes it ‘right’ on trend once more.
This is exactly what THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, is on many levels. Although billed as a comedy, drama and adventure, veteran auteur film maker Terry Gilliam’s take on Don Quixote, is so much more. As with all Gilliam’s work, the film is also his particular brand of fantasy, drama and magi-real, so straight away, there’s three more genres, and there’s the wonderful Monty Python heritage of course, so that makes seven genres! This expertly pulled off complexity may well appeal to many 21st century audiences, who fed on a diet of twisted, streaming platform storylines, will love the heady plot and genre mix that this film presents.
Gilliam has also joined forces with wonderful English screenwriter, Tony Grisoni, to create a layered tale, weaving the tale of Don Quixote which was written in the early 17th century, about a Knight on a quest in medieval times, into a distinctly 21st story line. When you add in some very modern ideas on religion, politics and a dollop of 21st century crime, and somehow blend them with medieval morals? Well there’s a lot that could go wrong, but instead it all merges into a fantastical, unique world, which is pure escapism for the viewer.
Such is the seamless genius and vision of the unique Terry Gilliam, that the audience happily suspends not only disbelief but all sense of anything normal, which is helped by a brilliant cast.
THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, stars Adam Driver, playing a director, mistaken by Don Quixote, played by Jonathan Pryce, (who is just a deluded shoe mender in real life) for his servant, Sancho Panza. Giving a brilliant comedy performance which really shows this very agile, and talented actor at his best, Adam Driver is perfect, and again proves that when Director and Actor collaborate successfully, magic and alchemy happen. Jonathan Pryce also provides weight and mercurial eccentricity in equal bright strokes. Also, who knew Olga Kurylenko and Stellan Skarsgard could camp it up so much too in the role of, twisted businessman and trophy girlfriend.
With many Monty Python-esque mini homages, this is a very visual comedy, and to watch the complicated but wonderful production design by Benjamin Fernandez, unfold at a lively pace, helped by ambitious photography, is exciting. It side swipes at modern culture, mixes it with a now classic comedy form and re-images it for a new audience, with different values, and does it well.
Well framed by Nicola Pecorini, and with an ‘in camera’, hands on approach to stunts, effects and gags, this is fine film making, whether you like Terry Gillliam’s films or not. However, if you give THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE a try, you’re in for a lot of laughs and a visual treat. On form, back in style, intelligent, funny and just a good way to spend any evening and go to bed happy, this is a novel and entertaining film.
Britflicks saw THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE at the Regent Street Cinema, London.
Britflicks saw THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE, at the Regent Street Cinema, London. The UK’s first cinema, it opened in 1848, and was also re-imaged, renovated and re-opened in 2015. Now showing a wide range of independent films from all sectors of society and from all over the world, checking out their monthly screening schedule is a must for any film lover.