Adventures of Baron Munchausen/A,A-

Columbia/1988/127m/ANA 1.77

     The Baron's back and better than before in this smart looking DVD. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a richly detailed interpretation of the outlandishly imagined and fabricated exploits of the legendary eighteenth-century German adventurer and storyteller. Director Terry Gilliam's imagination and ingenuity are uniquely suited to tall tales, and despite many chronicled production difficulties, the film stands as an incredible achievement. Like tall tales themselves, this film is one that grows in stature with repeated viewings.
adventuresofbaronmunchhausen.jpg (19048 bytes)

Uma on the half shell ©Columbia

     The film can divided into six major sections: The Siege and the Play; The Grand Turk; King of the Moon; Vulcan's Domain; Inside the Whale; and the Final Battle. Each stands on its own, serving up treasures to be enjoyed at different moments. One could easily criticize the film for its episodic nature wealth of incidental detail, which perhaps can make it difficult to fully appreciate each segment; hence, the growing appreciation on ensuing visits to the film.
     The opening play within the film and the siege of the city are a tale unto themselves, followed by the next delightful adventure, the tour of the Grand Turk's harem. The wonders of the harem are marvelously filmed, including a Gilliam original instrument of spiked delight that is sure to re-light the fuse of laughter long after the disc has completed its revolutions.
     After a return to the besieged present during which a fantastic hot air balloon is fabricated to send the Baron and young companion Sally Salt on a journey to secure help to relieve the siege, the audience is treated to an hilarious visit to the moon. Here The King of the Moon and his Queen battle jealously over their little visitors. The ingenuity of Gilliam brings incredible excitement to the lunar sequences making this visit one of the highlights of a mythic adventure.
     Robin Williams is at his manic best as the King of the Moon It is easy to take for granted the very fine performance of John Neville as Baron Munchausen so well hidden behind make-up and talent is the actor masked. The subtle differences in movement and mannerisms as the Baron changes ages is very well accomplished. Alongside Neville is an appealing Sarah Polley (Go, The Sweet Hereafter) as young heroine Sally Salt. Young Miss Polley helps broaden the appeal of the film to include youngsters not yet capable of enjoying much of the wonderful spectacle presented by Gilliam and cohorts. Eric Idle is hilarious support for the Baron in the role of fleet-footed Berthold. The recently deceased Oliver Reed brings his blustering baritone voice and powerful physical posturing to the role of Vulcan. And get a gander of Uma Thurman emerging from that shell. Oh, well.
     Gilliam's wonderful team of filmmakers brings this grand fantasy vision to the screen with great energy and excitement. Giuseppe Rotunno's photography weaves its magic through diverse lighting situations and varied color schemes. The production design of Dante Ferretti is simply amazing bringing mining Gilliam's imagination to expansive depths. And the score of Michael Kamen imbues all the pomp and circumstance of the world surrounding the Baron to energetic life.
     It's a pleasure to see The Adventures of Baron Munchausen dressed in DVD clothing. Every precious detail of the set design is preserved in this lovely anamorphic transfer. The color is extremely stable. Even the smoke from the Baron's pipe stands out against the tight grain of the misty sky on the balloon flight. The image is very sharp and in some scenes slight over-enhancement produced edge ringing. The most difficult scenes that were decoder nightmares on laser look terrific on this anamorphic transfer. The Rococo designs of the Sultan's harem are now perfectly stable through camera pans. Every marvelous detail of the production craft is presented in the purest images. The Dolby Digital 2 channel surround sound adds lots is matrixed with lots of ambient sounds of battle and the Kamen music, filled with regal horns, sounds appropriately throaty.  






Apocalypse Now
is Coppola's distorted vision of war now on DVD in  gorgeous anamorphic images.

Tucker: The Man and His Dream
is beautifully filmed with loving attention to detail.

Selections from the feature archive include articles on Akira KurosawaFrank Darabont, Blonde Bimbos, Hollywood Street Gangs, or Vietnam: The Hollywood Pariah, and many more....

Sturges EmergesThe Wacky World of Preston Sturges
Preston Sturges was Hollywood's resident comic genius for more than a decade. His movies are timeless. Click on his image to read all about it.

 Why do Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Pat O'Brien and Goldie Hawn fall into a select group of actors? Find out more by clicking the  Hollywood on the Sidelines symbol.

Movie Rage: Death in the Aisles
Everyone knows what it feels like to get angry at the movies these days. Here's a humorous but not so delightful view of big screen misery.

DVD Planet - your online source!
is the DVD incarnation of legendary laser retailer Ken Crane's. Deep discounts and serious service.

Elegant DVD portal with news, reviews, links and information galore.

Many movie related links in an easy interface. You can even rate the sites.

#DVD Channel News
Great site for DVD followers. Lots of information, some speculation, opinion, and reviews all bundled in a sparkling interface.