Director Terry Gilliam adroitly applies his Monty Python sensibilities upon the "career" of famed German prevaricator Baron von Munchausen. Played herein by John Neville, the baron is seen quelling a war that he himself started, flying into the stratosphere on the back of a cannonball, ballooning to the moon, exploring the innards of a volcano, ...
Director Terry Gilliam adroitly applies his Monty Python sensibilities upon the "career" of famed German prevaricator Baron von Munchausen. Played herein by John Neville, the baron is seen quelling a war that he himself started, flying into the stratosphere on the back of a cannonball, ballooning to the moon, exploring the innards of a volcano, being swallowed by a whale....In short, all of Munchausen's fabulous lies are here presented as "truth," played out in full view of nonplussed witnesses Eric Idle, Charles McKeown, Jack Purvis, and Sarah Polley. Fringe benefits include several loving medium shots of jaybird-naked Uma Thurman as Boticelli's Venus and an extended unbilled cameo by Robin Williams -- that is, by the head of Robin Williams -- as the King of the Moon. Filmed under considerable duress on a budget eventually exceeding 45 million dollars, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen never quite caught on with moviegoers, though it has enjoyed a lucrative afterlife on videocassette. Hal Erickson, Rovi
Sting, Jack Purvis, Charles McKeown, Valentina Cortese, Jonathan Pryce, Uma Thurman, Oliver Reed, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle,... 1989 Run time: 126. Very Good in original packaging. Gently used. Pasadena's finest independent new and used bookstore.
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TITLE: The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
GENRE: Period Fantasy, 1790 era
CAST: John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Uma Thurman, Johnathan Pryce, Charles McKeown, Peter Jeffrey, Jack Purvis, Winston Dennis, Oliver Reed, Valentina Cortese, Bill Paterson and Robin Williams (Oh, and a quick cameo and one line appearance by Sting)
PLOT: A traveling troupe of actors is stuck in a town undergoing "enlightenment". They portray the story of a famous myth maker. As the town is being assaulted by Turk forces, the real Baron shows up and tells the tale of how he saved the town from the assault it is now undergoing. Open the gates and sure enough the Turks are gone! How? One must believe that the myth is truth. But the man of legend never left their sight!
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: 9 of 10; If you expect a comedy by Terry Gilliam and his buddy from Monty Python, Eric Idle, you will be disappointed. This is a visually surreal statement which at times adds a bit of visual humor to the canvas (such as Idle's facial expressions when he is runnuing) and that R. Williams is in it you would expect his mad cap humor to surface, but gladly! it doesn't. At that juncture we are treated to a notion that existed at the time that the Moon is inhabited by giants who use vegetables as weapons. Mr Neville is excellent as the story teller. Uma Thurman does double duty in this but most memorable is, at seventeen, her imitation of Boticelli's :The Birth Of Venus" (that clip alone is worth the price of admission, taking one of the world's most famous artworks and bringing it to life. Unmatchable. In the early stages of the film we see the typical types of secret mechanisms that actors of the period used to impress their audiences and then Gilliam uses modern magic to impress us.
DVD BONUS: A whole second two hour exploration into the making of this movie. It apparently was quite a producer's nightmare, what with their being about five producers and a studio management change in the middle of production and only 400 copies of the film made for distribution, it's a wonder any of us even know about it.
ADDED NOTES: About the funniest this film gets is when Sting as a hero is brought before the 'elected one' as a man who went beyond the call to be a hero. The 'elected one' says execute him. He then turns to his lackey and justifies that order by saying we can't have the military doing things they're not told to do. It sets a bad example.