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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Posted by admin | Posted in Movies | Posted on 04-09-2010


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Director Terry Gilliam (Brazil) and an all-star cast including John Neville, Eric Idle, Oliver Reedand Uma Thurman deliver this tale of the enchanting adventures of Baron von Munchausen on his journey to save a town from defeat. Being swallowed by a giant sea-monster, a trip to the moon, a dance with Venus and an escape from the Grim Reaper are only some of the improbable adventures.Amazon.com
Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) d… More >>

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

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The best fairy tales have as many — if not even more — lessons for adults as they do for kids. “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” directed by former Monty Pythonite Terry Gilliam, is a great example of this.

Mining a rarely tapped vein of German fantasy lore, the movie brings to life its unlikely hero in the form of a middle-aged, at times elderly, German nobleman. Munchausen wanders the world — and occasionally places above and below — seeking outrageous adventures with his marvelous companions: Albrecht, the strongest man alive; Berthold, the fastest man alive; Adolphus, who has amazing vision; and Gustavus, who has incredible hearing and powerful lungs.

In the movie, an elderly Munchausen disrupts a theatrical production of his adventures in a 17th century city under seige by invading Turks. Munchausen’s efforts to set the record straight are in turn disrupted by a cannon assault, and his attempt to quietly die in the theater’s ruins are interrupted by Sally Salt (Sarah Polley), a small girl with a huge heap of stubborn. Sally is possibly the only person around who believes Munchausen is real, and her belief is impetus enough for the baron to dispense with dying long enough to try and save the town.

Setting off with stowaway Sally in a prop ship floating on a current of hot underthings, Munchausen finds his missing friends and saves the town as promised after some eye-popping adventures — and with a few twists and surprises on the way.

John Neville is perfect as the dashing, resourceful and exceptionally lucky Baron Munchausen. In both the younger and older incarnations, he glows with the air of a legend come to life, straight from a storybook wonderland. As his older self, he exudes curmudgeonly bitterness over this new Age of Reason which is eroding his tales. The world, he says, “is made of laws now. Laws of hydraulics, laws of social dynamics, laws of this, that and the other. No place for three-legged cyclops in the South Seas. No place for cucumber trees and oceans of wine. No place for me.”

Ah, but there is. Sometimes, the world just needs reminding.

Munchausen rides cannon balls, uses snuff to defeat a massive sea beast, dances on air, sails to the moon and generally cheats death. Most of the time. But always with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, like any good, stalwart hero should. If you’re big on realism, pass this one by. But if you want to exercise your sense of wonder, pick up “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” Please, believe he’s real or the town is lost.

Rating: 5 / 5


Sometimes you despair. A new format is trust upon us – and an opportunity is presented to the movie industry to finally to do the business by their classics – and what do they do – they give us the same old dull stock and rip us off by getting us to pay more for it.

Twenty years on, Terry Gilliam’s 1989 fantasy epic is still extraordinary – inventive, funny, touching, and on a scale few movies today would even dare to go near. Unfortunately, the 2008 transfer of it to the new format is more Blur-Ray than Blu-Ray. And while it’s not awful all the way through – it’s not far off it. For large parts of the film there’s grain and blocking – the colours in some instances are better for sure – but it’s also obvious that little or no restoration has been done to the print – when like “Time Bandits” – here is a fantasy film that is crying out for a clean up – and would surely have been much more commercially viable if it had been cleaned up – and a big deal made of it (even a re-launch in the cinemas?).

The extras mimic the special edition DVD issue – reviewed elsewhere – nothing great.

When you see “Cool Hand Luke” or “Zulu” or “2001: A Space Odyssey” on BLU RAY, the clean up work is immediately apparent and evident throughout the entire film – making them an enjoyable ‘spot-the-difference’ experience for the whole duration. But you know you’re in trouble with “Munchausen” the second the washed out “Columbia” logo comes up at the beginning – I’ve seen crinkled videotape look better than this. What a huge disappointment and what a disservice to a really great fantasy film. I can only think of the gobsmacking beauty of Uma Thurman as she appears in a seashell to cheer myself up…

Unfortunately this release is why Amazon reviews are necessary. Avoid this overly expensive poor reissue unless you absolutely have to own it…
Rating: 2 / 5

The Age of Reason. A time when men are ruled by logic and emotions have no place. Fantasy is dead. Where does such frivolous things belong in the world today?

But their is always a place for war. And a city is besieged by the Turks, heroism met with death instead of cheers. Why? It’s not rational. Even though the government frowns on it, the common people turn to fantasy to forget their woes. The theater is putting on a production of ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’, much to the Baron’s chagrin. And so begins an adventure where the aged baron, longing to die then live in a world that has no use for him, goes to end the war because a little girl believes in him.

Along the way he’ll find old friends, travel to the moon, inside a volcano, the belly of a giant fish and occasionally delight us with a tale of adventures past.

This delightful film is a marvelous treat for both young and old. The cast is delightfully filled with John Neville as Baron Munchausen, the wonderful Eric Idle as one of his servants, Oliver Reed as Vulcan, Uma Thurman as his bride Venus, and Robin Williams as the King of the Moon whose head is constantly at war with his body.

The story is rich and whimiscal, serious where it needs to be. The special effects are top notch, making you believe the fantastic is real.

This is one of Terry Gilliam’s finer films. And is highly recommended for the young or the young at heart.
Rating: 5 / 5

Fantasy (in film) is apparently a dirty word. I do not understand why. Of all the people to whom I showed or recommended this film, only 3 enjoyed it. Normally, we (those with whom I would discuss films) like the same stuff.
Ah well. This is one fantastic film. Baron Von Munchausen, historically real and mythologised, was/is the world’s greatest liar. So, the story opens with a theatrical cast in a dilapidated theater, in the midst of war and shelling, putting on a play about the life of the baron. The real Baron walks into the theater, and tries to set the story straight. Then he, in his explanation of the reality as he sees it, illustrates for us, in real life, what was portrayed on stage, but on a much grander scale, to most magnificent effect; not to mention the added adventures that are woven-in.
I first saw this piece on video in the mid nineties. Now, post September 11th horrors and excess, the story has added resonance. The antagonists of the story are bureaucrats who believe they represent the fullest expression of Reason in life and government. They have everything compartmentalized practically and rationally, including the days on which they can shoot at the enemy, and the enemy at them. And they can’t accept that the war eventually has been won. “Don’t open the gates!”
And then there is the fantasy: A balloon made of ladie’s silken underwear, a flight to the moon. The king and queen of the moon (the king is Robin Williams) with their detachable heads to pursue intellectual pursuits while their bodies… A sea monster… the spectre of death…
The story is well told, the cinematography beautiful, the dialogue witty and compelling. There are enough layers to keep the viewer from being lazy, and yet, one doesn’t have to stare at the screen and lay heavy on the rewind to understand the film. Just watch it.
The Baron, on one of his many death beds, laments that the world has gone to Reason and science, and has no room for “cucumber trees”, and indeed, there are too few yarns so imaginatively told on film these days. This is one of them. A great afternoon flick, or something for after the bars,when it’s still too early to go to bed.
Rating: 4 / 5

The 20th anniversary edition includes:

* The Madness & Misadventures Of Munchausen: A 3-Part Documentary On The Making Of The Film

* Audio Commentary w/Terry Gilliam & Co-Writer/Actor Charles McKeown

* Audio: English, French, Japanese, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

* Deleted Scenes

* Dubbed: French, Japanese, Portuguese

* Interactive Menus

* Scene Selection

* Storyboard Sequences w/All-New Vocal Performances By Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown

* Subtitles: English, French, Japanese, Portuguese

Stars: John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Robin Williams, Uma Thurman, and a cameo by Sting.

I love this movie! I love the sense that anything can happen (and frequently does), that it’s never a waste to dream up impossible things, that it’s never too late to recapture the magic. I love watching the baron get younger and younger as the reminiscing part of the movie progresses. Eric Idle plays his role more like a stage actor, but it works in this kind of film, where everything is supposed to be exaggerated. Robin Williams is perfect as the manic King of the moon. Sarah Polley is an excellent young actress. The film has some slow moments, but it’s worth waiting to see the next big adventure and the exciting conclusion.

Rating: 5 / 5

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