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Lost in La Mancha (2003)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 99
Fresh: 93 | Rotten: 6

A remarkable behind-the-scenes look at a movie that wasn't, Lost in La Mancha is an incisive, entertaining document of the difficulties inherent in the moviemaking process.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 26
Fresh: 23 | Rotten: 3

A remarkable behind-the-scenes look at a movie that wasn't, Lost in La Mancha is an incisive, entertaining document of the difficulties inherent in the moviemaking process.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 15,767

My Rating

Movie Info

A documentary that details and depicts the pre-production and the first six days of production of acclaimed director Terry Gilliam's ill-fated attempt to film "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" in late 2000. Piece by piece, the entire production ended up falling apart. A series of events conspire to shut down the project altogether: a severe storm washing away equipment; jet fighters interrupting the filming of the pivotal and somber Inquisition scene; and the star suffering a damaging back

Jun 24, 2003


IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on Lost in La Mancha

August 7, 2014:
Terry Gilliam's Don Quixote Finds Funding
Could it finally see the light of day?
November 20, 2013:
Terry Gilliam Still Pursuing Don Quixote
"I think this is the seventh time. Lucky seven, maybe."


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All Critics (111) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (93) | Rotten (6) | DVD (16)

Wondrous document of a film gone wrong and an artist who inspires fans, cast and crew, even as he terrifies financiers, insurers and anyone more firmly footed in filmmaking reality.

May 23, 2003
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fascinating record of how the movie fell apart, piece by piece, with everything short of a natural disaster conspiring against the filmmaker.

May 2, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A fascinating study in the cinematic arts, as we watch a talented director and a committed crew and cast thwarted by nature, human failings and just plain bad luck.

May 1, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gilliam himself is a joy to behold. His wit stays sharp even as his fortunes dull, and the conditions that conspire against him only prove the mettle in our man of La Mancha.

March 21, 2003 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Should be required viewing for all film-school students, aspiring filmmakers and studio suits.

March 6, 2003 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bitterly funny and oddly poignant.

February 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In the end, I'm left with an immeasurable appreciation for how bloody hard 1st A.D.'s work on set, and the crap they've got to deal with.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

It's worth watching to catch glimpses of the Gilliam works, and to be strangely reassured that disasters and misfortune happen even to the best artists.

January 15, 2005
Looking Closer

entertaining without always being compelling

September 30, 2004

I'd pay to watch Terry Gilliam take out his trash, but there's nothing in Lost in La Mancha much more exciting than that.

July 7, 2004

A fascinating documentary for film fans. Those who are not real film fans or film students probably won't find it as interesting.

January 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Seeing Gilliam's vision falter is simply painful and joyless.

October 8, 2003 Full Review Source:

Viewers always seem to have a strange curiosity about disasters.

June 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

This is a lively film, as optimistic in tone as Don Quixote is in character. And Terry Gilliam is a bright, expansive and enthusiastic filmmaker, a likeable, charismatic guy who jokes about having a budget of US$31.5 million being "half the money we need"

June 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

The only person who has jousted at more windmills than Don Quixote seems to be Terry Gilliam.

June 2, 2003 Full Review
Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)

If something about you causes you to root for Terry Gilliam too, you should definitely seek this film out

May 19, 2003
Greg's Previews at Yahoo! Movies

Lost In La Mancha will have you alternately wincing, laughing and, finally, weeping at the thought that we may never see this potentially brilliant movie.

May 14, 2003 Full Review Source:

Filled with humor and human drama, this La Mancha is an intriguing place for film lovers to get lost.

May 2, 2003
Your Movies (

Unique, fascinating, funny and sad.

May 1, 2003
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

One of the most depressing film's I've ever seen.

April 26, 2003 Full Review Source:

The real focus of the film is Gilliam himself -- and his growing disillusionment with the project as it stubbornly refuses to become the movie he's already shot in his head.

April 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

It's every director's worst nightmare come alive and as a major movie buff... it was a fascinating watch.

April 18, 2003 Full Review Source: JoBlo's Movie Emporium
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

An absolute must for fans of Terry Gilliam.

March 28, 2003 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Audience Reviews for Lost in La Mancha

Terry Gilliam: At least if we're going to be fucked, let's know we're fucked ahead of time. 

"They have a story... but they've lost the plot"

Lost in La Mancha is a fascinating documentary of Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to bring Don Quixote's story to life in film. He had worked over a decade on the film and says countless times throughout this documentary that he has ran through it in his mind several times. Jeff Bridges narrates and there are several interviews from the crew and actors, including Johnny Depp, working on the picture. 

Gilliam and his team have to work through endless amounts of bad luck, including planes flying over while they are shooting, bad weather and a lack of funds. Worst of all, the actor playing Don Quixote(Jean Rochefort) isn't in the best of health. It's said that Gilliam isn't the only one to try and fail to make an adaption of Quixote. Orson Welles tried for many years to make Quixote, but never ended up finishing it.

Lost in La Mancha is a pretty entertaining and extremely interesting look at some of the struggles that occur during production. It's definitely worth a watch if you enjoy seeing how films are made, or in this case tried to be made.
August 17, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Lost In La Mancha is a video diary of Terry Gilliam's attempt to make his adaptation of Don Quixote in which a modern day advertising executive finds himself transported back in time and mistaken for Quixote's faithful companion Sancho Panza. Failing to get financial backing from Hollywood because of the shadow of his one heroic failure Baron Munchausen looming over his head (despite the fact that he had made financial successes before and since), he tried to make the film using European money and although he was forced to work with half the budget he would have liked, it was actually shaping up quite nicely. Unfortunately a catalogue of catastrophes plagued the film in the first week of shooting, from the set being buzzed by F-16s to the star being diagnosed with a double hernia. Not to mention the fact that Gilliam had to watch all of his equipment being washed away by a freak flash flood! It's actually a fascinating look behind the scenes of the movie making process; from Gilliam's mind's eye being transformed into storyboards, to the process of costume design, make up, scouting, screen testing and eventual (if disastrous) shooting. The footage that was actually shot (of which there is maybe a minute!) looks like it could have been another of his great successes and it is strange how there seems to be a real parallel between Quixote and Gilliam himself; in this case the grim reality that defeats him is represented by the insurance men who avoided paying out by claiming that a 70 year old actor falling ill was an "act of god". It makes you wonder why any of us ever pay for insurance for anything in the first place. The suits still own the rights to his script, and I for one hope that Terry will continue to shout at these pinstriped windmills and never accept defeat.
May 21, 2010
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Interesting in places and educational for those who want to be film makers but ultimately its quite a dull film to watch. I really hope they get to make the real thing!
August 27, 2009

Super Reviewer

We've all seen Making of-films, some of them are wonderfully detailed, giving you an idea of the amount of work that has been done. This is the Making Of documentary of a film that could not be completed. It feels as if the Gods were against director Terry Gilliam ("Twelve Monkeys") and his star Johnny Depp, while trying to shoot a new adaptation of the classic tale of Don Quixote. It starts with the pretty chaotic, multi-lingual planning, the actors showing up late, more delays and problems, bad hail storms, fighter jets over the sets, a leading actor becoming very ill and all ends in the depressing and frustrating cancellation of the project. If that wasn't so sad to witness, especially how hard it is for Gilliam, it would be a great insight into some of the mechanisms of film industry. Actually, that's exactly what it is: the documentary gives you a better idea about the effort behind a movie than most Making Ofs where the crew just compliments each other. Interesting, amusing, partially unbelievably frustrating.
February 17, 2009

Super Reviewer

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