The funny story of mad but kind and chivalrous elderly nobleman Don Quixote who, aided by his squire Sancho Panza, fights windmills that are seen as dragons to save prostitute Dulcinea who is seen as a noblewoman.
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This musical version of Don Quixote is framed by an incident allegedly from the life of its author, Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote is the mad, aging nobleman who embarrasses his respectable family by his adventures. Backed by his faithful sidekick Sancho Panza, he duels windmills and defends his perfect lady Dulcinea (who is actually a downtrodden whore named Aldonza). Written by
A song called "To Each His Dulcinea" was omitted from the movie. It was sung by the Padre in the stage play and featured the lines, "A man can do quite anything, / Outfly a bird upon the wing / Hold moonlight in his hand." See more »
In the film, Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra uses the story of Don Quixote to defend the hero's chivalric notions. In the final pages of the novel, and only in the final pages, he declares that his intention was to satirize and poke fun at the exaggerated books of chivalry which were then in vogue. Part I of "Don Quixote" published in 1605, is mostly comic; Part II, published in 1615, is more melancholy and psychological. Most critics feel that, despite his satirical intentions, Cervantes mellowed and began to admire Don Quixote between publication of the 2 parts. See more »
Knowest thou what that really is?
The Golden Helmet of Mambrino. When worn by one of noble heart, it rendereth him invulnerable to all wounds. From what fallen knight didst thou steal it?
I didn't steal it.
Well, it cost me half a crown!
Surrender it, or I'll split...
[the Barber screams as he drops the shaving basin]
I must say, Your Grace, it is worth half a crown.
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During the opening credits, we see the animated sails of a windmill, which, with each turn, begin to reveal, and finally become, a sketch of the face of Don Quixote. The camera moves in for an extreme closeup of the facial features, which, as the camera gets close, reveal themselves to be a giant prop in an outdoor stage presentation during a festival. As the opening credits end, the sketch of that prop dissolves into the real item. See more »
Bringing big Broadway musicals to the screen has always posed tremendous problems for film makers. The results have by and large been unsatisfactory, with few exceptions. The late 60's brought us "Camelot", (67),"Hello Dolly" (69) and "Fiddler on the Roof" (71), all films adhering to the unquestioned rule that bigger is better, be it casts, sets and orchestrations. All three were overblown bores. Arthur Hiller's concept for "Man of La Mancha" is clearly the antithesis of what had become expected of the musical on film. He decided to use the film media not as a device for augmentation in a broad sense, but rather to focus in on the characters and bring them as close to the audience as possible using naturally many close-ups. They are the crux of the film; not massive sets, huge choruses or dazzling choreography. "Man of la Mancha" boasts two fine songs; the rest are pretty mediocre, which justifies Hiller's keeping the music as a device to serve the characters and not the other way around. From the very start with the credits appearing, the audience is geared up for one of those massively orchestrated rousing overtures. Yet, what we are offered is an underscored, almost chamber music style overture setting the tone for the entire film. The message as with chamber music is clear; the focus is on the content, not the trappings.
The critics by and large hated the film. Maltin in particular is uncharacteristically savage in his criticism. They simply were not prepared to accept an unorthodox approach to a huge Broadway success. While "Dolly", "Camelot" and "Fiddler" tend to be almost impossible viewing today, "Man of La Mancha" remains astonishingly fresh, very much vindicating Hiller's concept of this much maligned and misunderstood movie.
Being so focused on character, the films success would lie with its principal players. O'Toole gives a bravura performance, one of his finest, while Loren too, is perfect in her role. Sure the soundtrack is not one to listen to in the way one would a Broadway musical. But both O'Toole's and Loren's shaky vocals are in perfect sync with the fragility of their characters and hence very human and very moving. If more Broadway musicals had been brought to the screen with such a clear concept as was "La Mancha", the movie musical may have enjoyed far greater success.
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