The BFI Southbank has been running a Monty Python at 50 season and last weekend it reached its climax. My partner and I headed to see Monty Python and the Holy Grail and a preview of Terry Gilliam’s new film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
Monty Python’s Holy Grail was my first Python film. I loved it, and there was a time where I could quote most of it without thinking about it. Seeing on the big screen with an audience made up of fans was glorious. It wasn’t quite levels of quoting along but the laughs from all around the auditorium was heartwarming and felt special. We were also treated to an introduction from Neil Innes who wrote a lot of the Python’s music and played Robin’s Minstrel as well as other characters in the film.
My favourite elements are Sir Galahad in the castle with Zoot ‘a spanking, a spanking, there’s going to be a spanking!’
It felt lush seeing it on a big screen.
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is Terry Gilliam’s cursed project. It, of course, deals with what is real and what is fantastical in a way that only Terry Gilliam can do so deftly. This is the culmination of so many attempts to make this film it’s amazing it got there in the end. I remember seeing the documentary Lost in La Mancha which was one of the previous iterations where Johnny Depp was involved as Sancho Panzer and it follows the series of unlikely events that brought down that film over a few days. Floods, war, the actor playing Don Quixote getting very ill and almost dying.
The only links that that version has with the new one is that it is a Don Quixote story. How to describe it, it’s a meta-narrative, with Adam Driver playing Toby a director who as a student made a film called the man who killed don Quixote and how it affected those who worked on that film. Jonathan Pryce playing the Don Quixote from the student film and then reuniting with Toby who becomes his Sancho Panzer. There are windmills to tilt at. Dulcinea who is corrupted. And it is very much set in the modern world but it works beautifully and in ways reminds me of Peter Winterbottom’s film A Cock and Bull Story (which is a modern telling of Tristram Shandy).