Lost in La Mancha

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 100


Audience Score

User Ratings: 16,184
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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 injury. Gilliam's decades-long dream to make a film based on Don Quixote came to a grinding halt--but it was all captured on film. Thus, what was expected to be, simply, a special documentary featurette--shown as part of the film's eventual DVD package--is now the basis of the film, itself.


Critic Reviews for Lost in La Mancha

All Critics (100) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (6)

  • Anyone who thinks making movies is easy needs to see this hilariously painful cautionary tale. It's a tribute to Gilliam that he never once took off his mike or asked the filmmakers to stop rolling.

    Mar 8, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic
  • 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 | Rating: 5/5
  • 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 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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 | Rating: 4/5
  • 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.

    Mar 21, 2003 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Should be required viewing for all film-school students, aspiring filmmakers and studio suits.

    Mar 6, 2003 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Lost in La Mancha

  • Jan 13, 2012
    Fascinating behind the scenes look at another attempt to make Don Quixote. Considering that Terry Gilliam was in charge, it is genuine shame that this movie didn't come to fruition. I would have been something.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2011
    A well-made documentary focusing on the failure of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote."
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2011
    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.
    Melvin W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 13, 2010
    This documentary is a great example of "Development Hell," a place where good ideas for movies go to die. Gilliam seems prone to this problem since the box office bomb that was "Baron Munchausen" and in this film he finds himself growing desperate after funding dwindles, the budgetary schedule remains tight, and actors go missing from the set. The film details what "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" would have been, given the right circumstances, but its death seemed to be known from the start. What with the age of the lead actor, the problems on set, weather issues, and budgetary restraints, it's amazing that directors Fulton and Pepe didn't know they were making a memorial for Gilliam's lost dream from the start of production. While this film has still not been made, Gilliam holds out hope that the right time and funding will converge and his long held dream will become a reality. Knowing Gilliam's vision and his films thus far we can only hope the stars finally align for him.
    Spencer S Super Reviewer

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