The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) (NTSC)

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Released 7-Aug-2019

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 132:39
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Terry Gilliam

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Adam Driver
Jonathan Pryce
Stellan Skarsgard
Olga Kurylenko
Joana Riberio
Jordi Molla
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Roque Banos

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Over two decades ago Terry Gilliam attempted to make a film about Cervante’s delusional knight errand Don Quixote only to be defeated by the elements, the illness of his lead actor and other disasters. That doomed attempt was documented in the wonderful Lost in La Mancha (2002) by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe. However Gilliam never relinquished his dream of making the film and in 2018 he returned to Spain and to Don Quixote. The result is The Man Who Killed Don Quixote which starts with the text message “and now . . . after more than 25 years in the making . . . and unmaking a Terry Gilliam film”.

     The Man Who Killed Don Quixote could not be anything but a Terry Gilliam film. It is inventive, absurdist, surreal, the real and unreal jumble together amid juxtaposed storylines and characters, there are moments of farce and genuine comedy mixed with stunning set pieces and the beautiful cinematography of DP Nicola Sancho Pecorini. Just don’t ask for a simple explanation of the plot(s).

     Let’s just say that the film concerns a director of advertisements, Toby (Adam Driver), who is in Spain making a commercial featuring the character of Don Quixote for his boss (Stellan Skarsgard). The Boss is currently courting Russian gangster and vodka baron Alexei (Jordi Molla) hoping to land a lucrative vodka advertising deal although the boss’s wife Jacqui (Olga Kurylenko) is more interested in getting Toby into bed. For his Don Quixote Toby has cast Javier (Jonathan Pryce), an elderly shoemaker with an interesting face but no acting experience. Ten years ago Toby had made a student film The Man Who Killed Don Quixote in the same region and when a copy of his film surfaces he decides to visit the nearby village in which it was made and, especially, to find out what had happened to the beautiful, young Angelica (Joana Riberio) Toby had cast in his film. Though a set of bizarre circumstances Toby ends up on the run from the police with Javier, who now is firmly convinced he is the real Don Quixote, that Toby is his squire Sancho and that they are on a quest. Slipping in and out of delusion, the pair have run ins with the Inquisition, the Knight of Mirrors, Moors and windmills, Toby finds that Angelica is now Alexei’s mistress and everyone, including the Boss, Jacqui, Angelica, Toby and Javier end up at a costume party at Alexei’s newly purchased palatial villa. Where everything, real and / or delusional, comes to a climax. Of sorts.

     The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is long at 132 minutes and keeps jumping in and out of the various plots without explanation so it is practically impossible to know what is real and what is being imagined by Toby. Or, for that matter Javier; both are delusional so not actually knowing what is real is the point. And that does not take into account the sections that are, in reality, part of the commercial being shot! The film is, however, held together by the marvellous performances of Adam Driver and Jonathan Pryce, an impressive score by Roque Banos, beautiful photography of the Spanish landscapes and villages and stunning, colourful set pieces, especially the frenzied over the top costume party at the climax. Although here, as usual, things are not really as they seem.

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Transfer Quality


     The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, NTSC and 16x9 enhanced.

     The arid, dusty landscape, ruined castles and houses, a backlit Don Quixote with horse and lance in the distance, decrepit villages or the palatial mansion that is Alexi’s villa all look stunning courtesy of cinematographer Nicola Sancho Pecorini. Detail is firm, including the tattered sails of the windmill, the dirt and rust on Quixote’s armour, the cloaks of the religious parades or the elaborate costumes in the climax. Colours are rich; the dusty yellows of the desert and ruined castles, the blue of the sky and water, the green of the oasis, the varied colours of the costumes. Blacks and shadow detail is very good, skin tones natural. In a number of scenes the characters are backlit, giving a glary, otherworldly feel which I imagine is deliberate. There were no marks and only occasional motion blur.

     The layer change at 66:20 resulted in a slight pause just after a scene change.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 Kbps.

     This is a surprisingly enveloping audio track for what is not really an action film. Dialogue is always clear. As well as ambient effects such as birds and the wind, the rears featured the creak of wooden house beams, running water, music, horses’ hooves, fire effects, off screen voices and motor bike engines as bikes disappear from the frame. The subwoofer supported the engines, explosion, fire effects, the music and especially the accentuated horses’ hooves during the duel with the Knight of the Mirrors.

     The score by Roque Banos uses Spanish and carnival themes, a choir and an orchestra. It was playful and epic in parts, nicely supporting the visuals.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Nothing. The feature starts when the DVD loads.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been released very recently in a few regions, including Region 1. There are no reviews as yet so I am unable to say if any have extras. For now, call it a draw.


     Terry Gilliam is unable to make a simple, straight forward film. He had to work hard to get the money for this film for The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a Spanish – Belgium- French – Portuguese coproduction. The film is complex, inventive, absurdist and surreal but a Gilliam film is always interesting and inventive which in these days of safety first sequels and superhero CGI extravaganzas can be counted as a blessing.

     The video and audio are very good for DVD. Zilch extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, September 30, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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