In what increasingly seems like a piece of decades-long, deeply depressing performance art—or maybe a stunning bit of stealth marketing from whoever gets paid to promote the word “quixotic”—director Terry Gilliam has been working since 1998 to bring an adaptation of Don Quixote to the screen. Now, it’s been announced that Amazon is teaming up with the Time Bandits and Zero Theorem director in his cosmically suicidal efforts to goad the universe into stopping him from making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
Gilliam confirmed the plan earlier this week, during an interview about the upcoming Criterion Collection release of The Fisher King. The director laughingly referred to Quixote as “my madness,” in a lighthearted way that suggests he’s already heard all your jokes about how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result—i.e., for God to not attempt to drown him when he tries to make a movie. And because you can’t get any more doomed than “totally and completely doomed,” he also hinted that his troubled miniseries The Defective Detective might be similarly revived with some of Amazon’s money.
Gilliam’s deal is the latest in a lengthening line of team-ups between streaming services and creative talents who don’t mesh well with the Hollywood system (plus, for some reason, Adam Sandler). Netflix has a movie deal in place with mumblecore kings The Duplass Brothers, while Amazon is working with folks like Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, and Woody Allen on various projects. Gilliam, who’s famously battled against producers, lawsuits, and death itself in his efforts to make movies like Brazil and The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, would seem to be a perfect fit for the new Amazon paradigm, provided that the ground doesn’t open up and swallow the company’s Seattle headquarters the next time the director sets foot there.
Gilliam’s Quixote is expected to be something of a twist on the classic tale, with the story centering on a twenty-first century advertising worker being transported back in time to squire for Miguel de Cervantes’ famously deluded knight. Jack O’Connell is attached to star as the ad-man, Toby, while John Hurt will play Quixote himself. Filming is expected to start in 2016, with the inevitable documentary about how the film fell apart after O’Connell and Hurt were, like, carried away by locusts who also devoured the movie’s funding to start filming at around the same time.
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