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Tuesday, 10 September 2019 17:43

Slaying giants – ‘Quichotte’

There are certain stories that invite retelling. These are stories that have embedded themselves deeply into the collective psyche, demanding to be told and retold.

The story of Don Quixote has been one such story. Even from its inception some four centuries ago, when Miguel de Cervantes put pen to paper and spun out the tale that would become the most influential Spanish literary work in history, the work deemed by many to be the genesis of the modern novel, the tale of the erstwhile knight errant and his quest for love and chivalry continues to resonate.

The newest exploration of the classic story comes from Salman Rushdie, whose latest novel is “Quichotte” (Random House, $28). It’s a layered metafictional take on the tale, a story that succinctly blends the modern with the postmodern as well as a deft use of a classic touchstone to explore a much more current cultural landscape.

Reality and surreality collide as an elderly Indian-American man, his once-sharp mind somewhat addled by a steady diet of TV and travel, is swept up into a romantic notion – a notion for which he’s willing to cross the country. But there’s more to this man’s world than he could ever know, for despite his own resistance to the idea of a higher power, he is in fact subject to the whims of his own creator – though perhaps not in the way one might expect.

Published in Style

Making a movie – any movie – is a monumental task to undertake. No matter whether you’re talking about an indie feature or a summer blockbuster, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome. But sometimes a particular film, for whatever reason, is just that much harder to make than most.

Terry Gilliam’s passion project “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is one such film, a mishap-riddled odyssey 25 years in the making. Directed by Gilliam from a script he co-wrote with Tony Grisoni, it’s the end result of a quarter-century of false starts and natural disasters, of casting and recasting and shooting and reshooting. The production dealt with so many issues of varying types that one would be forgiven for believing the entire project to be somehow cursed.

After many years, the film was finally completed in 2018. And yet, the difficulties weren’t done even then; some messy legal issues between Gilliam and a former producer on the film resulted in a wonky, uneven release schedule; the movie didn’t reach American screens (non-festival edition) until now, with a limited theatrical run quickly followed by a VOD drop.

One would expect a film that had been through so many iterations to be haphazard and scattered, jagged and rough-edged. And frankly, those terms describe “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” in a lot of ways. But those viewers who are able to look beyond the surface jankiness will see Gilliam’s unique vision at work; there’s enough here – particularly for Gilliam’s fans (among whom I include myself) – to illustrate the clear, fierce passion that the director has for this story.

It’s an uneven and unflinchingly weird movie, which surprises no one; it bears the marks of both his love and his desperation and wears them proudly – and really, how else could it have gone?

Published in Movies

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