The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen movie poster

 

Ter­ry Gilliam’s mad, bril­liant yarn The Adven­tures of Baron Mun­chausen is a strong­ly anti-war fable to which every kid (and adult!) ought to be exposed. Like the best of its kind (includ­ing Rata­touille and Gilliam’s own Time Ban­dits) The Adven­tures of Baron Mun­chausen works on mul­ti­ple lev­els and is acces­si­ble to all ages. It is, how­ev­er, a Gilliam film, as as such pos­sessed of a cer­tain degree of dark­ness and naugh­ti­ness. But depic­tions of tobac­co, decap­i­ta­tion, and brief nudi­ty (of the young Uma Thur­man vari­ety… thank you, Ter­ry!) were evi­dent­ly A-OK for kid­dies in its era, and mer­it­ed a mere PG rat­ing. Spe­cial men­tion must also be paid to the spir­it­ed per­for­mance by a very young, adorable (but in a non-cloy­ing way) Sarah Pol­ley.

John Neville and Sarah Polley in The Adventures of Baron MunchausenOops, we threw the bud­get pro­jec­tions over­board…

What must be the most iron­ic cap­tion in cin­e­ma his­to­ry, “The Late 18th Cen­tu­ry: The Age of Rea­son,” is fol­lowed imme­di­ate­ly by har­row­ing imagery of war­fare that wouldn’t be out of place in Kubrick’s Paths of Glo­ry. Fur­ther dri­ving the point home for the slow­er mem­bers of the audi­ence, a trip to Hades finds Vul­can (Oliv­er Reed) forg­ing ICBMs out of hell­fire. In a theme straight out of Noam Chom­sky, the mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex (per­son­i­fied by Jonathan Pryce’s hilar­i­ous­ly accent­ed bureau­crat) impris­ons the peo­ple with­in the walls of their own city with a sham state of per­pet­u­al war. In the end, the Baron (John Neville) defeats these vil­lains not with more vio­lence, but by inspir­ing the peo­ple to throw open their doors and thus their minds.

Uma Thurman in The Adventures of Baron MunchausenUma comes out of her shell

Must read: The Adven­tures of Baron Mun­chausen fun facts from Dreams, the Ter­ry Gilliam Fanzine

Buy any of these fine prod­ucts from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report: