Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie

A film based on Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes’ classic tale of a knight errant and his portly sidekick, Sancho Panza, is under development by Disney.

Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Don Quixote is a figure loved by Spaniards. Photo: Pedro Armestre / AFP

Screenwriter Billy Ray, of The Hunger Games, is working on adaptation of the celebrated novel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The film is set to be an action-packed adventure version of the undisputed Spanish classic first published in 1604 by Spain’s most famous writer.

“Sources say the plan is to adapt the work in a tone the recalls the madcap and fastastical nature of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies,” Hollywood Reporter said.

Although its author died penniless, the book has become one of the most influential novels ever published.

Don Quixote follows the trials and tribulations of its eponymous hero, a gentleman from La Mancha who is obsessed with chivalry. After reading many books on the subject, he is inspired to set off on an adventure with his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, and his horse, Rocinante.

The novel recounts the threesome’s adventures as they travel around Spain in search of glory and adventure.

It’s more than 1,000 pages have been republished in 145 languages, making it the most translated work after the bible.

But unlike works by William Shakespeare – who died on the same date, April 23rd, 1616 – which have been adapted countless times for the silver screen, a full feature film of Don Quixote has been notoriously difficult to bring to fruition.

In an absurd saga befitting a former member of the Monty Python team, Terry Gilliam has spent the last 18 years trying and failing to make a film adaptation of Don Quixote. Although he did manage to produce a documentary film charting the failure of the project – Lost in La Mancha. 

Earlier this month Gilliam announced that his lastest attempt to get teh film made had once more been delayed because of lack of funding.



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Finally! Terry Gilliam finishes ‘Don Quixote’ film project that took 17 years

Terry Gilliam, the US-born director famous for a string of dark fantasy films, has finally finished his version of Don Quixote... after 17 years battling one disaster after another.

Finally! Terry Gilliam finishes 'Don Quixote' film project that took 17 years
Photo: Terry Gilliam / Facebook

“Sorry for the long silence…,” he posted laconically to Facebook on Sunday.

“After 17 years, we have completed the shoot of THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE. Muchas gracias to all the team and believers. QUIXOTE VIVE!” (Quixote lives!)

Gilliam said he and his crew had just finished shooting in Spain. But it has been a long haul for the director of “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys”.  

Like the aging knight at the centre of Miguel de Cervantes' classic tale, Gilliam, now 76, has had to deal with one mishap after another to complete his quest.

READ ALSO: Most Spaniards have never read Don Quixote

His first tilt at adapting the 17th-century novel was with US star Johnny Depp and French actors Jean Rochefort and Vanessa Paradis.  

That came to grief back in 2000, hit by a string of setbacks that included torrential rain and constant flyovers by military jets from a nearby NATO base.    

To top it all, Rochefort, whose role as Quixote required riding a horse, developed back problems that put him out of action.    

The new version features British actor Jonathan Pryce as Quixote. He starred in Gilliam's 1985 hit “Brazil”, but is perhaps better known to younger viewers as the High Sparrow in the “Game of Thrones” television series.

Also on board is US actor Adam Driver, the villain in the latest Star Wars film; and the Ukrainian-born French actress Olga Kurylenko (“Quantum of Solace”).

The history of Gilliam's disastrous first attempt to film his Quixote project has passed into film folklore: there is even a 2002 documentary, “Lost in La Mancha”, that tells the whole sorry story.

Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe, originally hired to do a making-of film to accompany the finished product, finally managed to salvage an award-winning documentary from Gilliam's disastrous shoot.

But Gilliam, like the steadfast Quixote, refused to surrender.    

The former member of the Monty Python team, and a specialist in absurd fantasies such “Jabberwocky” and “Time Bandits”, pushed on with his project.    

“Shooting my version of Don Quixote is a medical obligation,” he told the Spanish daily El Pais last year. “It's a brain tumour I have to eradicate.” 

READ MORE: DIsney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie