Movie Review 2007 #161: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Although Gilliam considered it a failure, and it was a box office flop, this is one of the more successful Terry Gilliam films. It stars John Neville in the titular role, as well as roles for Uma Thurman, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, and Oliver Reed.


Jay Lake recently mentioned this movie in a post on his livejournal, and I couldn’t resist watching it again after its evocation.
As I watched it, I was struck by how much this movie has in common with a recent movie, Stardust. Themes of wonder, of a world beyond the ordinary and mundane…a somewhat episodic structure with quirky characters…small roles for great actors and actresses. A love of the fantastic grounded in the ordinary world. Treasures both subtle and gross.
The parallels are not perfect, however, I believe they are there, and that people who like one of the movies will enjoy the other in equal measure.
As far as Munchausen, the movie tells the story of his exploits (there is some deliberate confusion whether we are merely watching the Baron tell a story, or if the events are happening and unfolding in a sincere fashion). The power of storytelling is a strong one, and Munchausen explores that theme to the utmost.
As a friend of mine said. “Modest danger to misfit heroes”
And really, how can you argue with a movie that casts a young Uma Thurman as Venus? I can’t and I don’t. I just enjoy it.
I hope that the movie eventually gets a revised and improved DVD edition over the bare bones edition I own. (there is no commentary by Gilliam, for instance) I certainly think it deserves it, and I would buy one.