When I was a child I had listened to the music over and over again on my parent’s old tape recorder (memories of Mission impossible). I had never seen the movie and thought maybe that’s something special we could watch as a couple..
Predictably Andrew’s eyes lit up at the chocolates. At the Man of La Mancha CD his reaction was something like an advert I saw years ago for Christmas presents. He was as excited as a teenager receiving a Barry Manilow CD.
Anyway a few days later he resignedly joined me in watching this musical. Surprisingly we both enjoyed it immensely. Starring Peter O’Toole and Sophia Loren it is based loosely on the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
The story starts with de Cervantes being thrown into prison by the Spanish Inquisition. Not only has he the Inquisition to deal with, the fellow prisoners want to try him also and destroy his precious manuscript.
With his manuscript de Cervantes involves the prisoners in a play to demonstrate his innocence.
An old man who has read too many romantic novels goes mad and sets out on a heroic knightly quest. He fights a giant (a windmill), champions a fair damsel (a kitchen maid) and fights evil where ever he finds it.
Lyrics I, Don QuixoteAlthough it is clear that the gallant night is living in a world of fantasy there is something touching about the Old Man. His neighbour and squire Sancho Panza loyally follows him. The world weary kitchen maid asks Sancho why do you follow this man? Sancho replies “Because I like him.”
Hear me now
Oh thou bleak and unbearable world,
Thou art base and debauched as can be;
And a knight with his banners all bravely unfurled
Now hurls down his gauntlet to thee!
I am I, Don Quixote,
The Lord of La Mancha,
My destiny calls and I go,
And the wild winds of fortune
Will carry me onward,
Oh whithersoever they blow.
Whithersoever they blow,
Onward to glory I go!
Eventually the kitchen maid who is used and abused by every other man is touched despite herself by the gallant knight. She is redeemed and starts taking on attributes of the fair Dulcinea. In a strange twist at the end of the movie she repays Don Quixote kindness by demonstrating her belief in him and what he stands for.
Now while it is obvious that the knightly quest is a delusion in the sense that there is no giant, castle or enchanter, there is something inherently noble about Don Quixote’s character . He is faithful and true within the confines of his delusion. And despite Aldonza the kitchen maid being a servant and not a lady he does see something in her of worth and value.
In similar manner the unconditional love between squire and knight is touching. And it got me to thinking.
The quest of Don Quixote is goal orientated. Like much of our lives.
What if in the process of working towards a goal, the process is more important than the goal.What if the process is ultimately part of the goal?
The movie touches on the Spanish Inquisition. They were so focused on keeping people Christian that they used some pretty un-Christ like methods to try and force people to become Christian.
When we minister to people do we demonstrate the love of God? Or is our goal such that we will sacrifice people for the good of our goal?Don Quixote, though mad changed his world for the better. The world, at least in the person of the servant and the kitchen maid, was less “base and debauched” than before his quest.
How can I touch people in a meaningful way in a world that is not always kind to the poor and the lonely. How can I love people in a way that touches them rather than how I think they should be touched?
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