The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Terry Gilliam is one director whose films have almost always been plagued by disaster. One need look no farther than the recent tragic loss of Heath Ledger or the documentary Lost In La Mancha to see this. However Gilliam is no stranger to this kind of frustration. He had to fight Universal for final cut of Brazil, then came the financial catastrophe that became The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen. Luckily it turned out to be a pretty darn good film.

Munchausen is the story of reality versus imagination. When the Turkish army invades a village it is up to The Baron and Sally to track down his old friends to help win the battle. So they head off on a series of adventures that lead them from the moon to the center of the earth to the belly of a whale and back again, tracking down Munchausen’s old companions along the way. Most of the trouble The Baron seems to get into is his instant attraction to women and theirs to him, regardless of what their husbands might think. And when the husbands in question are the King of the Moon and the Vulcan God of War, you know you’re in trouble.

Visually this film is a feast for the eyes. All the sets and locations are so full and rich that it’s worth viewing for these moments alone. When The Baron rides a mortar shell over the Turkish army and catches a cannon ball back landing safely, you believe it. Happily, however, the performances are fantastic as well.

When discussing the performances the first that must be mentioned is Robin Williams plays the King Of The Moon whose head is separated from his body so his mind can focus on intellectual pursuits while his body indulges in carnal delights. While Williams is surely stand out his is not the only performances worth mentioning. Star John Neville is perfect as The Baron who never seems to worry no matter how dangerous or hopeless his situation seems. Other superb performances include Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, a young Sarah Polly and small performance by a then unknown Uma Thurman.

Upon it’s release Munchausen was overshadowed by the debacle that had been the production and the film became a historical financial flop. But luckily some people recognized the genius of it because it was nominated for four Oscars and is now finally receiving a much-deserved two-disc anniversary edition.

The film is presented in widescreen 1.85:1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Also can be watched in French, Portuguese and Japanese with French Portuguese and Japanese subtitles. The film has never looked or sounded better! This is a fantastic transfer.

Commentary with Terry Gilliam and Co-Writer/Actor Charles McKeown: Terry Gilliam is always a wonderful filmmaker to listen to. He has such wonderful insights to the world of filmmaking especially on such a memorable production such as this one had. McKeown adds some interesting tidbits as well.

The Madness And Misadventures Of Munchausen: (72 min.) This is a wonderfully entertaining and in-depth making of feature. With interviews with just about everyone involved in production you get whole story from the initial ideas through preproduction to the epic catastrophe that was the production of the film. Any struggling filmmaker can breathe a sigh of relief that they’ve never been through anything like Gilliam has.

Storyboard Sequences with all-new vocal performances by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown: (30 min.) These are scenes that were cut and never filmed so now we get to see what they had in mind. It’s kinda cute the way they put these together.

Deleted Scenes: (3 min.) You get four scenes here. They are funny and enjoyable to watch but would not have added anything to the over all film.

Munchausen is one of Terry Gilliam’s most fanciful and entertaining films and it’s about time it got a bells and whistles release like with. With all new commentary and a second disc of great bonus features this is a must own for any fantasy or Gilliam fan. And if you’ve never seen the film I highly recommend going out and renting it post haste!

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Columbia Pictures presents The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary Edition. Directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring John Neville, Sarah Polly, Eric Idle and Uma Thurman. Written by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown. Running time: 127 minutes. Originally released in 1988. Rated PG. Released on DVD: April, 8 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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