“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” has had so much trouble getting made that it would almost be a letdown if the long-gestating project ever sees the light of day. Terry Gilliam has been tilting at windmills for nearly 20 years at this point, and now the film has hit a new snag: Alfama Films released a statement on Friday deeming it “patently illegal.”
Alfama’s Paulo Branco spoke to the Hollywood Reporter at Cannes, accusing Gilliam of “clandestinely” working on the film behind his back and even “pursuing the production with other partners.” Whether true or not, such a strange state of affairs is certainly apropos of the Cervantes’ charmingly (and tragically) out-of-his-depth knight errant.
“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” first entered pre-production in 1998 and, at one point or another, everyone from Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp to Robert Duvall and Ewan McGregor has been attached to it. A documentary about these troubles, “Lost in La Mancha,” was released in 2005. Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver star in the current iteration, which was announced at Cannes last year.
The film’s producers released a statement of their own, claiming that Branco has “no rights whatsoever to ‘Don Quixote'” and that his accusations are “preposterous”; they’re also suing him in four different countries. (Perhaps it’s actually Branco, not Gilliam, who’s the most quixotic character in this story?) “Senhor Branco’s interpretation of the law borders on the picaresque,” added Peter Watson. “If he really wants to kill the venerable don, I suggest he takes up jousting.”