Sunday, July 19, 2009

An imaginarium of his own

Was there ever a director with such grandiose artistic vision and bad luck as Terry Gilliam? His Baron Munchausen has become a byword, and is probably the reason stupid Warner Brothers wouldn't consider him to direct the initial Harry Potters. I've just watched Lost in La Mancha, the highly entertaining documentary about his failed Don Quixote film. Most films, I imagine, hang by a tightrope the way this one did, with actors not showing up till the last second, sound problems from planes, not hammering down contracts, etc. But this one was special. Location was (why?) next to a NATO air base. There was a flash flood on the second day of production. Then there were actor Jean Rochefort's health problems, culminating in a herniated disc. It ended with bangs and whimpers and insurance squabbles.

But it's finally due to be remade next year. The insurance company refused to relinquish the rights for years, but Gilliam's got it back, baby! Here's wishing him the best of luck and a big knock on wood, but word is that he may have to do it without Johnny Depp this time. I hope he can keep some of the old sets and costumes. The design looks absolutely gorgeous, and so did the locations (Spain). Gilliam also drew the most extraordinary mock-ups for his storyboards and designs, which I would love to see in a book.

Of course, bad as Rochefort's prostate problems and back problems were, he didn't go to the length that Gilliam's last leading man did to wreak havoc.

It was Heath Ledger. He died.

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