The arts are full of irrational superstitions, some well-founded and others, not so much. In filmmaking one of the most famous – and feared – of these involves that classic work of Spanish Golden Age humor and social critique, Don Quixote.
The so-called curse of Don Quixote goes back to Orson Welles’ lifelong struggle to bring the massive novel to the screen, and dying before he could shoot the ending. Then there were Walt Disney’s numerous failed attempts and, more recently, the well-documented implosion of Terry Gilliam’s ambitious adaptation – and his failed follow-up a decade later.
All of this is to say that you might want to think twice, or even three times, before setting out to make your own filmed version of El Quijote. So, let’s just hope the folks over at Walt Disney Studios did their homework before greenlighting a recently announced Don Quijote project that’s in development with Billy Ray (Captain Phillips, The Hunger Games) writing and producing alongside Gordon Gray (McFarland, USA).
Sources told the Hollywood Reporter that the studio plans to follow in the mold of Pirates of the Caribbean, with madcap humor and touches of the fantastic. Miguel de Cervantes would likely approve of these tonal choices, but we still know very little about how Ray plans to condense the nearly 900-page episodic novel into a neat, 90-minute cinematic package. Perhaps the Pirates of the Caribbean reference also leaves open the possibility of a multi-part franchise.
We’ll have to seen if Disney actually pulls this one off, or whether it goes the way of so many other doomed adaptations. What’s for certain is that Cervantes’ vision of a nostalgic book lover living through his own fantastic version of a romanticized past is as vital now as it was 400 years ago.