LOST IN LA MANCHA is a cautionary tale about the making of a feature film, or rather the un-making of it.
For years, Director Terry Gilliam dreamed of making a screen adaptation of the Don Quixote story - you know, that old and senile Spanish knight who tilts at windmills. In 2000, with a budget of $32 million, Terry set about to do just that. His film, entitled "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote", stars Jean Rochefort as Quixote and Johnny Depp as Sancho Panza.
After several months of pre-production, Rochefort and Depp arrive on location, and shooting begins in the Spanish desert. During the first week, the crew copes with continual overflights of screeching F-16 jets, a thunderstorm that generates a flash flood that destroys equipment, and an injury to the 70-year old Rochefort that'll apparently keep him off his faithful steed unless cured. (Don Quixote on foot? Hmm, doesn't call-up quite the same image, does it?)
In the second week of shooting, a visit by the investors is followed by one from the insurance adjuster, who begins to mumble about "acts of God" precluding payment. Meanwhile, Rochefort is back in Paris to see his physician, and things don't look promising for a timely return. Then, the First Assistant Director, Phil Patterson, delivers the final blow.
Viewing LOST IN LA MANCHA, there's a certain terrible fascination watching the director's dream crumble before his (and your) eyes because of appallingly bad luck. One can't help but feel sorry for the poor devil. The film will, perhaps, only appeal to one that loves the movies and appreciates, at least to a minor degree, the organization, preparation, and coordination necessary to mount and complete a major production.
A postscript in the end credits informs the audience that Gilliam has since re-acquired the rights to "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote", which defaulted to the insurance company, and plans to give it another go. If it's ever released, I'll pay to see it just out of sympathy.