To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
To love, pure and chaste, from afar,
To try, when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star
This is my Quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far;
To fight for the right
Without question or pause,
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause!
And I know, if I'll only be true
To this glorious Quest,
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this,
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable stars!
The Man of la Mancha is based on a Broadway musical about the author/playwright/poet Cervantes as he lives out his idealistic ambitions in real life as well as through Don Quixote (the infamous fictional character). Cervantes chooses to see reality "not as it is, but as it should be," a mindset which he immortalizes partly through his public resistance to the Spanish Inquisition, mostly through his fictional alter-ego Don Quixote.
At the beginning of The Man of la Mancha, Cervantes puts on a play that pokes fun at the Spanish Inquisition. To the inquisitors this is the same as poking fun at God Himself, so they arrest him. It's not surprising that the fiery playwright clashes with Catholic church officials since, during that time, the church had reached new heights of religious insecurity.
While Cervantes waits in prison, he tells his story to fellow prison mates by putting on a musical about Don Quixote. They appreciate the fact that he includes them as part of the production. The grubby men and women are skeptical at first but, by the end of the movie, Cervantes wins them over with his creative, idealistic zeal.
Don Quixote (Cervantes) demonstrates the fact that there is a good kind of craziness. Raw idealism might be seen as insanity to someone who has given up all hope that there is any goodness in the world. Then again, a man would have to be mad to sacrifice his own well-being for the good of other people, when those people might never appreciate that man's sacrifice.
Don Quixote is crazy enough to see a castle where others see a run-down inn; he sees adventure in scenarios that would inspire depression in most people. He is delusional enough to see untainted purity in a woman who the world esteems as a whore. He is crazy enough to resist evil in a thoroughly evil world.
At one point in The Man of la Mancha, the priest points out, "One might say Jesus was mad... or St. Francis." This is a astute observation.
"The Jews were again divided. Many of them said, 'He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?' But others said, 'These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?'"