He Dreams of Giants

Now, back in 2002, I hosted some Q&As with film makers Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe for their movie Lost in La Mancha, one of the great ‘making of’ docs, mainly because it was a chronicle of one of the great movie failures, the ‘not making of’ of Terry Gilliam and his seemingly accursed project to make a Don Quixote movie.

20 years on, they’re back with another ‘making of’, called He Dreams of Giants, about Terry’s  final and fruitful tilt at The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, which did come out in 2019 and I think is a really fine film, with Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver – who were both Oscar nominated  – though not for that film, but hey…

I was struck by how reflective and ruminative this new doc was, how moving it is on the ups and downs of a creative life, about the folly of film making and sheer hard work and toll it can take on a man like Gilliam who was approaching his 80th birthday – could he get this dream out of his head and onto the screen – or would The Man Who Killed Don Quixote be the film that killed Terry Gilliam?

Making comparisons to Fellini’s 8 1/2, Keith and Lou have put together a beautiful essay that I would say is indispensable as a companion to the movie – deepening my appreciation of it, in fact – and to anyone interested in film-making or creative processes. It’s really about legacy, life, ageing, leaving a mark, pushing a dream over the line, and to watch it is almost to experience the whole thing – it’s exhausting, sparkling, tense, charming and frustrating, loving and self-loathing. A remarkable documentary of cultural and emotional significance, I’d say.