The Criterion Voyages (Spine #1166): THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN -- They Don't Make 'Em Like This Anymore
By Sean Boelman
Terry Gilliam is no stranger to the Criterion Collection, with the editions of his films Brazil and Time Bandits being among the most popular ones available. His cult classic fantasy epic The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is the most recent of his movies to enter the fray, and watching the film, one will be reminded of how they just don’t make ‘em like they used to anymore.
The movie is an exaggerated retelling of the story of Baron Munchausen, a fictionalized character itself inspired by a real baron. In typical Gilliam style, the film is exaggerated beyond belief, but it’s perfectly fit for a movie like this that is all about tall tales and how storytelling is exaggerated as it passes through the generations.
Of course, Gilliam is known for infusing his films with an absurd, whimsical sense of humor — being one of the founding members of Monty Python and all — and there is no shortage of that humor here. The adventure comedy premise is rife with opportunities for slapstick comedy, and there are also just plenty of moments that feature Gilliam’s characteristic weirdness.
It’s no secret that, like many of Gilliam’s other movies, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen has a troubled production history. However, perhaps one of the most interesting quirks of the film is that it features a supporting turn by Robin Williams — who is absolutely hilarious here, mind you — that was not allowed to be credited so as not to use his name to market the movie.
Gilliam’s sense of visual grandeur also resulted in the film going massively over-budget, but every penny that was spent on the movie is seen on the screen. The film received four Academy Award nominations — Set Decoration, Costume Design, Visual Effects, and Makeup — and deserved every single one of them.
Thankfully, Criterion presents the movie in an all-new 4K restoration that is absolutely stunning. It’s already a visually splendid film, but getting to see it in the glory of a brand new restoration makes it even more impressive. The movie is being released on both Blu-Ray and 4K UHD for those with an upgraded system.
The only new bonus feature in the edition is a new video essay about the evolution of the eponymous character. However, there are still plenty of bonus features that give viewers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes drama that happened during the production, like a documentary on the making of the film, storyboards, deleted scenes and more.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is an amazing movie and it’s definitely worth adding to any cinephile’s collection. Terry Gilliam was in his heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and this is one of his most ambitious pictures.
The Criterion Collection edition of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is now available.
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