The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) / Fantasy-Adventure
MPAA Rated: PG for some violence
Running Time: 126 min.
Cast: John Neville, Eric idle, Sarah Polley, Oliver Reed, Charles McKeown, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Charles McKeown, Terry GIlliam
Review published May 12, 1997
The legendary Baron Munchausen (Neville, Little Women), fabled to tell wild and fanciful stories, in the late 18th Century finds himself at the end of his life, just as the Age of Reason begins. The Turks are threatening to invade a small but well-armed town, making the Baron set off with a little stowaway girl (Polley, The Sweet Hereafter) to find a solution to defeat the Turks. Along the way he finds his old friends, who each have a unique gift that may help him in his quest, and together they encounter many bizarre and surreal adventures. But Death is lurking at every turn waiting to take his life away.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen marks the third in the loose trilogy of fantasy films by Gilliam (Time Bandits and Brazil being the other two.) This film was one of the biggest financial flops in the history of cinema upon its initial release, but one can see from the visuals that the money was well-spent. It is truly a marvel of design, artwork, sets and costumes, a veritable feast for the eyes. The story is well-crafted although strangely isn't as involving involving as it should be, which is sometimes typical of Gilliams' style.
In my opinion, this is the work when Gilliam finally hit his stride as a director, marked with much less of the uneven tone that marred his earlier, albeit more popular work. The ride may not be always exciting, but the sheer magnitude of Gilliam's vision, and the loving characterizations drawn to life, makes it one well worth taking nonetheless
©1998 Vince Leo