CANNES, France (Reuters) - A Paris court ruled on Wednesday that Terry Gilliam can show “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” at the Cannes Film Festival, removing the final hurdle in his 20-year battle to get the story to the screen.
Fans welcomed the news as a sign that “the curse of Don Quixote” was finally broken, after Gilliam had to abandon an initial version starring Johnny Depp in 2000 due to a series of calamities, including flooding, ill health and money problems.
Finally remade with Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver, Cannes selected the film to close the festival on May 19, but a last-minute legal challenge from a former producer who says he owns the rights meant that remained uncertain until Wednesday’s ruling.
Adding to the idea of a curse, The Guardian newspaper reported earlier on Wednesday that Gilliam, 77, had suffered a minor stroke at the weekend, but he tweeted he was now fine: “After days of rest and prayers to the gods I am restored and well again.”
“We are legally victorious! We will go to the ball, dressed as the closing film at Festival de Cannes! May 19. Thanks for all your support. #QuixoteVive,” tweeted Gilliam, whose films include “Brazil” and “Time Bandits”.
The Paris court rejected a request by former producer Paulo Branco to prevent the Cannes screening, although Branco told reporters it had upheld his position that he does hold the rights.
Gilliam’s lawyer said the court did not address the question of who owned the rights but had ordered that the screening of the film include a statement that Branco claimed ownership.
“The judge said that the motion for an injunction was manifestly disproportionate and was damaging to freedom of expression,” Benjamin Sarfati told Reuters, adding that he had spoken to Gilliam, who was delighted.
“He said: ‘The spell is broken. The film can be seen by its audience.’”
Festival organizers also expressed their delight at being able to show the film in which Pryce plays a modern-day man who believes he is Don Quixote, the fictional Spanish knight from Cervantes’ classic 17th century novel.
“Let’s make this victory a great party,” the festival tweeted, referring to the closing screening on May 19.
Gilliam’s fans celebrated the court ruling by uploading to his Twitter page some of the surreal animations he made for 1970s TV comedy Monty Python’s Flying Circus and live actions clips, including members of the Spanish Inquisition rejoicing.
But at least one fan was skeptical that the “curse” had really been broken.
“Given the history, perhaps best save the celebrations until after it screens. The last minute plot twists are unbearable,” tweeted @GiantGnomes.
Additional reporting by Johnny Cotton; Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Gareth Jones