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The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen Criterion 4K UHD Review

“The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen” is an imaginative Terry Gilliam film.  

Set in the 18th century amid a war between an unknown European nation and the Ottoman Empire, “The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen” begins with a theater troupe staging a production about the legendary Baron Munchausen. The allegedly real Baron Munchausen interrupts the production and proceeds to tell the story about his real adventures about how he started the war, his 4 super powered servants, a cannonball ride, a hot air balloon made out of female underwear, the King of Everything (who has a detachable head), Vulcan and Venus, a sea monster, the Angel of Death and the end of the war. 

1988’s “The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen” was a notorious box office bomb that went through numerous production problems, and yet, despite all of that it has since gone on to become a fantasy cult classic. Watching the movie in 2023, it’s quite amazing that this movie ever got made to begin with as there is no way it would ever be made today. It’s the definition of a big gamble. It’s also gleefully chaotic, but that’s part of its charm. Director and co-writer Terry Gilliam (who wrote the script alongside Charles McKeown) has always been a distinctly visionary director and that’s never more evident than with ‘Baron.’ Every frame of this film is brimming with imagination. To say it’s an extravagant production is an understatement due to the massive sets, wide array of costumes, quirky sight gags, ahead of their time special effects, models, elaborate battle sequences, creative props, and enormous amount of extras scattered about. It’s a grand visual spectacle in which every dollar clearly shows up on the big screen. 

Visuals aside, however, ‘Baron’ works because of its story. This is a layered tale that works as both a tribute to fantasy storytelling and an ambitious original tale about aging, reality, tall tales, death, and fiction. There’s a lot going on underneath the surface of its dazzling adventures. It’s the type of film that rewards repeat viewings. 

In typical Gilliam form, he has recruited quite a cast here with the likes of Jonathan Pryce, Sting, Sarah Polley, John Neville, Eric Idle, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Bill Patterson, and Oliver Reed. John Neville is note perfect in the title role. Not only does he manage to lead this wild tale, but he does so in an always personable fashion. Sarah Polley showed just how talented she was as a child actor here as the young Sally who joins Baron on his incredible journeys. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 2160p in Dolby Vision HDR. How does it look? The new 4K digital restoration maintains the look and feel of the original print all while providing a clean new upgrade. Fans are sure to be pleased by the results.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The very lively audio experience gets a very lively 5.1 track that handles the audio in a deeply satisfying manner. 

Extras:
* A booklet containing credits, an essay by Michael Koresky,
* A 2008 commentary by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown (on the 4K and Blu-ray).
* 3 storyboards for unfilmed scenes along with intros by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown.
* 4 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Terry Gilliam.
* “Marketing Munchausen”- A trailer, production featurette, preview cards, taglines, and a “Meet Baron Munchausen” extra hosted by Terry Gilliam.
* “Special Effects”- A 16 minute collection of behind-the-scenes footage at the effects in various stages narrated by Terry Gilliam.
* “The Madness And Misadventures Of Munchausen”- An extensive 3 part documentary about the production.
* “The Astonishing (And Really True) History of Baron Munchausen”- A new video essay by David Cairns about the history of Baron Munchausen and how he is presented in various art forms.
* “The South Bank Show: Terry Gilliam”- A 1991 episode of the show with Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and Baron Munchausen’s dog.
* “Miracle Of Flight”- A Terry Gilliam animated short. 

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January 6, 2023 - Posted by | 4K UHD Review | , , , , ,

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