Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, for better or worse, is good, quirky cinematic fun at its very core. Jack Sparrow is a goofy, lovable character, flailing his way through adventures with quick quips, quick-witted trickery, and an impressive ability to stay alive through any number of sword fights, ships going cannon-to-cannon, and even facing down the Kraken. The ensemble just sort of rolls with his unusual behaviour because, whether it be through luck or some divine intervention, Jack Sparrow seems to be the winning side of just about anything in the Pirates films.
Word is that Disney is looking to make a Don Quixote film, with a Pirates of the Caribbean feel to it. Let that sink in. Don Quixote, the man who once toppled giants (windmills) alongside his loyal Sancho Panza…as envisioned by Disney, told in the quirky, charming, off-the-wall sort of storytelling as seen acted out by Jack Sparrow. On one hand, this could be a perfect combination of Disney, comedy, classic literature, and modern film. On the other hand, this could also easily be the most unnecessary update anything has ever seen.
It’s great to see classic literature finding its way to larger audiences by way of becoming more accessible…
Now, Don Quixote has film adaptations. There is a 2000 TV film featuring John Lithgow as the title character, and Bob Hoskins as Sancho Panza. Arguably, it will be difficult for Disney to top this duo in their embodying of their classic literature counterparts. That said: if this is handled right, it’s certain Disney will have no shortage of talent clamoring for the chance to breathe new life into this literary treasure (and, in turn, possibly inspire some people to read Don Quixote beyond college assignments).
There’s very little known about this possible, though not-yet guaranteed, film adaptation of Don Quixote. According to a piece on The Hollywood Reporter, Billy Ray and Gordon Gray are the current producers, with Billy Ray writing the script. Given Ray’s credits include The Hunger Games and Captain Phillips, perhaps audiences can expect a documentary-stylized film wherein Sancho Panza finds himself cataloguing Don Quixote’s valiant (read as “absurd”) journeys as a knight of the most chivalrous variety. Hopefully it won’t follow in The Hunger Games’ footsteps with the shaky camera footage approach to filming. Will this be a longer film, or will it touch on the better-known points from its source material? Will it be subtly humorous, as Cervantes had written it, or will it be more overt? Or will it even be over-the-top? Who can audiences expect to be cast?
It’s difficult to not want this film to do well. It’s great to see classic literature finding its way to larger audiences by way of becoming more accessible to the wider, more modern audiences who may consume it. This is a pleasant diversion from Disney’s endless stream of Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe installments, and their standard, high-quality animated features. For now, Disney willing, there is a chance Don Quixote could provide a hero that modern cinema really needs.
By Phil Gorski