Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Number Seven: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988, Gilliam) [Y]

My father rented The Adventures of Baron Munchausen for my family to watch when I was younger. I think it may have been the first weird movie I'd ever seen, outside of some kid's movies (the aforementioned Dumbo and a hallucinatory fever-ridden viewing of Robin Hood come to mind). The movie starts out slightly odd but when you get to the moon and a headless Robin Williams is dancing around things get really fun.

The movie is partly just a series of crazy stories, but death stalks the Baron at every turn, literally. I remember thinking that death was kind of hokey as a kid because it's just a tattered black angel, but that's kinda the point with Gilliam movies. A powerful innate suspension of disbelief is required for admittance. (A tattered black angel is preferable to most 80's special effects regardless.)

The movie starts in a playhouse, with viewers watching a production of the same feats that the Baron will later live through on screen. The baron then comes under bombardment from unseen cannon. The viewer doesn't know which war this is supposed to be or who is fighting whom. None of this matters because it's the story the Baron is telling/living that's real and we quickly leave war-torn Europe behind to journey through fairy tales and myths, riding in a balloon made of knickers. I bet some of you haven't seen this so I won't go into more detail. Go watch this if you haven't!

The film came in way over-budget and didn't get a proper release, prompting Terry Gilliam to refer to it as a fiasco. But half of all the movies Gilliam's made have been fiascos in one way or another and it hasn't stopped him so far. I can see some feeling that Baron Munchausen is just Gilliam weirdness for its own sake. For me the fear of death and the ecstatic power of wacky imagination are enough to raise this movie above standard 80's fare.


Little Earl said...

Don't know if I'd rush out and rent it but if it was on TV late at night I might give it a shot.

yoggoth said...

Your loss!

ninquelote said...

I don't want to give anything away, but is it possible that two Terry Gilliam movies will grace the Yoggoth top ten?

I haven't seen this one, but I will check it out.

Schrödinger's Penguin said...

I'll have to see this one as well... but the poster creeps me out like Roman Polanski on a good day.

yoggoth said...

Is Roman Polanski creepier on a good day or a bad day?

ninquelote said...

Definitely on a good day.