Terry Gilliam has tried for 25 years to complete a satirical cinematic reimagining of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s masterpiece Don Quixote. The production has been beset with financing troubles, departing cast members, and enough delays to label it cursed. Last year, however, Gilliam finally put his passion project in front of cameras, and now we have the first trailer to prove that it’s actually a real thing.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote finds former film student, current advertising executive Toby (Adam Driver) meeting a man who truly believes himself to be La Mancha’s defender of chivalry himself, Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce). Caught up in the insane beauty of the fantasy, Toby takes on the role of Quixote’s fictional squire, Sancho Panza. As the international preview hints at, their adventures lead to battles with windmills (natch), gala balls, and apparently the making of a film not unlike the one they’re actually in. Take a look below.
And that might be all you ever get of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, as the production has encountered yet another hurdle. In 2016, Gilliam struck a deal with Paulo Branco’s Paris-based Alfama Films to finance the film. The director says Branco never came up with the cash, so he went off and made the film a different way. Now, however, Branco claims the initial contract grants him the full rights to the movie. The matter is currently going through the courts, with a verdict expected in June. That means it’s unlikely Gilliam will be able to screen his beleaguered film at this year’s Cannes in May, as he originally intended.
There’s always the possibility that even if it does get released, this could turn into the Chinese Democracy of cinema. It would be nice if it even got that chance, of course, so hopefully this isn’t the last we see of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
A synopsis of the film, which also stars Stellan Skarsgård and Olga Kurylenko, can be seen below. Fair warning: It’s one of the most spoiler-y synopses ever written.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote tells the story of a deluded old man who is convinced he is Don Quixote, and who mistakes Toby, an advertising executive, for his trusty squire, Sancho Panza. The pair embark on a bizarre journey, jumping back and forth in time between the 21st and magical 17th century. Gradually, like the infamous knight himself, Toby becomes consumed by the illusory world and unable to determine his dreams from reality. The tale culminates in a phantasmagorical and emotional finale where Toby takes on the mantle of Don Quixote de la Mancha.