The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen

Must-See Cinema! German (tall) tales meet the fantastical mind of Terry Gilliam!

With each passing year, Terry Gilliam’s 1988 extravaganza – considered something of a folly when it was released – looks more and more like one of the great fantasy films. Adapted from a series of folktales about an 18th-century German nobleman renowned for prodigious exaggeration, the film bursts at the seams with joie de vivre and manic energy. The key is the bravura performance by John Neville, who nails the bluster (and love of the good life) that make the Baron a man who defines his era.

Poster image for the movie The Adventures Of Baron MunchausenThe film is posited as a struggle between the Baron’s fanciful worldview and the ‘rational’ perspective of Horatio Jackson (Jonathan Pryce), a bureaucrat charged with protecting a Mediterranean city from Turkish invaders. It’s all an excuse for a get-the-band-back-together story in which the Baron strives to locate his former servants, including a superspeedster (Eric Idle), a dwarf with amazing hearing and lung power (Jack Purvis) and a man who can see for thousands of miles (cowriter Charles McKeown). Robin Williams’s unbilled turn as the King of the Moon is pretty hammy, and the climax is a touch too conventional, but most of the film is flush with an intoxicating brand of whimsy, epitomized by a sequence featuring Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman as the gods Vulcan and Venus. 

– Andrew Johnston, Time Out

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