Sunday, January 25, 2004

tragic ends, I

This week we saw two movies that laid out sad tales about hopes dashed, each story rushing straight ahead to disaster.

The first movie was a documentary, and while it was light-hearted, the sense of impending doom hung over the story. Keith Fulted and Louis Pepe directed Lost in La Mancha, an insider's look at the attempted making of a movie by Terry Gilliam (Time Bandist, Brazil, The Fisher King) that would re-tell Cervante's Don Quioxte.

Gilliam, a Monty Python alum, worked for ten years to put together the production and had finally found financing in Europe. The documentary starts shortly before filming began in 2000, and almost immediately it became something out of the book of Job, as if we had heard a voiceover between God and the Devil (Consider my servant Terry...)

But first we see Gilliam's delight in this story and we get glimpses of story boards, costumes and set designs that make us want to see the outcome. And we learn about his problems with The Baron of Munchausen, a late 80s flop that had given Gilliam a bad reputation among movie financiers.

And then the woes descend, illness, torrential rain, low-flying military jets. As each woe interacts with others, the ripples turn into waves of problems, and one begins to see Gilliam and his team find themselves losing their movie. At one point, Gilliam refers to the Scottish play and the supposed difficulties of producing the unmentioned play. The catastrophes make HBO's Project Greenlight look like well-run filmmaking.

No comments: