The Man Who Killed Don Quixote Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Toby Grammet (Adam Driver) is a bored director all in white who once started out in auteur cinema and then went to earn money in all kinds of commerce. Toby and his film crew are in the south of Spain: they are filming commercials with the heroes of Cervantes’ famous novel – Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. But Toby is sad all in white. He has no mood, no inspiration. The scenery often breaks, the local Spaniards have a constant manana, and they can’t do a damn thing, the director’s producer (Stellan Skarsgard) puts pressure on him – in general, everything is somehow not thank God, and Toby consoles himself by fucking Jackie (Olga Kurylenko ) – the slutty wife of the producer.

One day, during a dinner with Japanese investors, Toby sees a CD with a black-and-white film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” in a gypsy merchant. And Toby remembers that this is his student film, which he once filmed somewhere in these parts in the town of Los Sueños.

Toby checks on the map – and sure enough, this town is literally a stone’s throw away. Then the director borrows a motorcycle from his assistant and goes to that city to visit two actors from local residents: the shoemaker Javier (Jonathan Pryce), who played Don Quixote in that film, and the beautiful Angelica (Joana Ribeiro), the daughter of a local innkeeper, who once portrayed beautiful Dulcinea.

However, it turns out that with his heroes, everything is not thank God. Angelica went to Madrid to become a star, and as a result she became an escort prostitute, but Javier is completely crazy: he now seriously considers himself a knight-errant Don Quixote, and Toby takes him for Sancho Panza.


This project is probably the most famous cinematic long-term construction. Terry Gilliam conceived it back in the late eighties. He began working on the script, producer Jake Eberts promised to find money, but Gilliam soon got carried away with another idea and began to shoot The Fisher King.

Then he staged the picture “12 Monkeys”, in the wake of the success of which he decided to return to “Don Quixote”. Financing was found, and in 2000 Gilliam even started filming in Spain. Don Quixote was played by the French actor Jean Rochefort, and the role of the director, who, according to the then version of the script, fell into the 17th century, where he met the real Don Quixote, was Johnny Depp, who played in Gilliam’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” .

However, the film crew was then haunted by all sorts of misfortunes: Jean Rochefort injured his back, natural disasters destroyed the scenery that had been rebuilt, funding stopped – in general, the shooting had to be stopped and the studio then recovered losses from the insurance company for a long time. And Gilliam in 2002 made a documentary about this whole story, Lost in La Mancha.

Disputes with the insurance company were settled by 2006, and Gilliam even announced the restart of the project, but nothing worked out then, and nothing happened in 2010, and in 2014, and in 2015. Moreover, at different stages, different actors were announced for the roles of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza: Don Quixote could be played by Sean Connery, Robert Duvall and Michael Palin, and Ewan McGregor and Danny DeVito were also considered for the role of Sancho Panza (director).

It would seem that there is a clearly “damned” project, which is easier to forget about, because as a rule, nothing good comes out of such “long-term construction”. In addition, the interest of the public has been warmed up so many times, and then, so to speak, warmed up, that here the syndrome of deceived expectations can easily work.

Nevertheless, nothing could stop Gilliam – it had already become a deeply personal matter. Therefore, he found funding for the project, and as many as five countries participated in this, and in 2017 the picture was nevertheless filmed and edited.

And again, everything was not with her, thank God: this picture was supposed to close the program of the Cannes Film Festival out of competition, but the Portuguese producer of the picture, Paulo Branco, went to court demanding to ban the show. The screening of the picture was not banned, but Gilliam lost the copyright to this film and had to pay Branca 10 thousand euros: as a result, the 78-year-old director suffered a heart attack and this also nearly derailed the premiere. But as a result, the picture is still shown.

By the way, Branco had a very muddy story with this. During the next financial crisis on the set, he promised Gilliam funding in exchange for copyrights, the contract was signed, but he did not provide money to Branque – Gilliam found other investors. But either the contract was so cunningly drawn up, or something else – as a result, Gilliam lost his rights. This is really a damn project.

So what happened to Gilliam as a result? Well, let’s put it this way, there is nothing in this picture that Gilliam would not have met before. A couple of Don Quixote with Toby – a variation of Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams from The Fisher King. Jonathan Pryce in armor – he’s in Gilliam’s best movie “Brazil”. Moving from reality to some phantasmagoric layers – “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”. Well, in some episodes, the good old Monty Python glimmers slightly, in which Gilliam made films such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.

Of course, there is a lot of purely personal in the film for the director. The oppression of producers, the relationship between the creator and investors, creative crises, what you can sacrifice in order to do everything the way you see fit, and so on. However, there are many moments that seem completely superfluous: all sorts of illegal Moroccan migrants, a suicide bomber who is mistaken for a bearded woman, references to Trump and an absolutely amazing example of bad taste – the United Statesn vodka king Alyosha Mishkin, who forces the prostitute Dulcinea to lick the cream from his shoe from cake. However, the stupid producer’s whore wife, who turns Toby on with shouts of “I’m the boss’s wife”, played by Olga Kurylenko with her usual level of utter mediocrity, she is from the same series.

As a result, the picture turned out – like a patchwork quilt. A lot of different things from his old films, but, unfortunately, I did not see anything new. The same “Imaginarium”, being rather sloppy and chaotic purely plot, somehow still fascinated, but in “Don Quixote” I somehow did not work out with fascination. Moreover, the transitions back and forth were made quite primitively: here Toby fell, here he hit his head, but it turns out he was just sleeping.

In the film, of course, the main plot moves of the original novel are played out: a battle with mills, Don Quixote piercing wineskins with wine, an attack on a flock of sheep, a battle with another knight, under the guise of which a person well known to Don Quixote was hiding, well, various adventures of Don Quixote with Toby in a huge castle bought by a vodka oligarch, where a costume party takes place: everyone appeases the vodka oligarch because he has to give money, and mocks Don Quixote, whom it is time to kill already – if only out of simple philanthropy.

And it seems that Gilliam’s intention is well understood, and the allegories do not raise questions, but to be honest, it’s boring to watch. Also, personally, I was hindered by the fact that Toby was played by Adam Driver. In general, he is a good and characteristic actor: with his almost complete emotionlessness, he creates interesting images. But it seemed to me that this role still needed an actor who could bring the proper element of madness to this slightly psychedelic picture. This is what Johnny Depp could do. And Ewan McGregor too. And Driver seemed too rational and, in my opinion, somewhat fell out of the style of the film.

Jonathan Pryce did an excellent job as Don Quixote, but it just couldn’t be any different. Joana Ribeira looked good as Angelica Dulcinea, but she is the same escort girl as I am a Barça footballer. But maybe it was just such humor, but I did not understand it.

In short, I’m disappointed. It is very long and rather vague, and some moments frankly surprised me with their bad taste. However, although this is controversial, it is nevertheless not a sucky movie, and I can’t say that Gilliam also shot his Old Nags. Moreover, for Monty Python’s films, “Brazil”, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and “Imaginarium” I will forgive him at least a hundred “Old Nags”. (Like Ryazanov, of course.)

However, I must say that many critics and viewers liked this film, the rating on IMDB is not bad. However, so far there has been a complete failure with the cash register – only $2.2 million at a cost of about $30 million, but this may be due to all sorts of legal squabbles. Let’s see how it goes. Still, I want this long-suffering project to at least fight back at the box office.


The Man Who Killed Don Quixote movie meaning

Director: Terry Gilliam Cast: Sergi Lopez, Olga Kurylenko, Rossi De Palma, Stellan Skarsgard, Jason Watkins, Jonathan Pryce, Adam Driver, Joana Ribeiro, Oscar Jaenada, Hovik Keuchkerian

Worldwide gross: $2.2 million
Fantasy, 2018, 132 min.

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