could be salvaged from the footage we have in the can. btrt it was only live or six days worth of work. Yet you have a good taste of it and I thotrght the filming was getting off to a good start. That makes it all the more frustrating to watch it all again.‘
I-‘ulton. who shot more than 100 hours of footage for his ()(lmin feature. believes that there was an interesting parallel between Gilliam's quest and the story of Quixote himself. Gilliam concurs: ‘When we were writing the script we decided that the story is fundamentally about suffering and sacrifice. And yes. I did suffer. It amazes me how foolish I was. What I notice is that I look completely shagged out. exhausted and at the end of my tether even before we start shooting. I look at it and think no doctor would have allowed me to shoot the film in the condition I was in. Maybe it was just as well we stopped.’
Gilliam has no intention of allowing Quixote to take over his life in the same way that it became an obsession of ()rson Welles. ’elles spent more than 15 years on his Quixote project. which began lilrning in 1955. and he died without it ever having been seen in public.
"I‘he comparison became a bit of a bad joke.‘ says Gilliatn. ‘Welles is one of my heroes and I always thought it would be great to have a career like his: but I was thinking of the first half of his life rather than the later years. I certainly don‘t intend to put in the years and years he lavished on the lilm.‘
As Lost in La Manchu shows. Gilliam. his cast and crew. producers and backers start out in an atmosphere of nervous optimism. Btrt at the end they
appear crtrshed and totally dispirited. The director
doesn’t escape the flak. The film‘s first assistant director says: ‘Making a film with Terry is like riding a pony bareback.’ The cinematographer suggests: ‘With Teny nothing is ever plain and simple.’
Gilliam admits he avoids the easy option and that he harbours a stubborn streak which may invoke a certain hostility. He wouldn‘t have survived so long without such inbuilt assets. He suggests that in the current atmosphere of conformin the world needs mavericks more than ever.
'My films have made a fair amount of money for Hollywood. yet each time I go there it's as if nothing has happened in 25 years. I am still the guy coming in and starting otrt. trying to get money for my next film. The people behind the desks may have changed. the clothes may be different. but basically they repeat the same old questions. They have a million reasons for not wanting to do what you want to do. bill they are always wrong. I have ambitions to make big. extravagant films with dangerous ideas in them. and that does make life difficult.‘
Lost in La Mancha plays at the Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 2 Aug and GFT, Glasgow from Fri 16 Aug. See review.
AND NOW FOR SOMEONE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
His crazy animations may be synonymous with Monty Python, but TERRY GILLIAM is now one of our most visionary filmmakers. Words: Miles Fielder
emember the image of the
giant pink foot never failing to
squash the opening credits of Monty Python ’3 Flying Circus? That was Terry Gilliam’s work. All those marvellous, barmy animations, now synonymous with all things Pythonesque, were his. Born in Minneapolis in 1940, he went on to direct three Python films (And Now for Something Completely Different. Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life), which launched a fine and idiosyncratic filmmaking career.
His first non-Python film was 1977’s Jabberwocky, a wildly eccentric adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem. He followed it four years later with Time Bandits, a baroque masterpiece of modern fantasy. There- after, the production process put the man through hell on more than one occasion. During the making of 1985’s Brazil, he became so stressed that he lost the use of his legs for several weeks. His next film, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, has become a text book example of the nightmare of big budget film production. It ran so far over budget that Gilliam was directing his actors in Europe while fighting to retain his home in America.
After that ordeal, he pulled back with the relatively modest modern fantasy, The Fisher King. But while he avoided production nightmares with that film and his next two, Twelve Monkeys and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, his enthusiasm to realise his unique visions continues to complicate things. When The Man who Killed Don Quixote, fell apart, his first assistant director pretty much blamed its collapse on his chaotic way of working.
Still, he's already at work on an adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen's comedy about Armageddon, Good Omens.
as A...; Jew THE LIST 7