The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)



Remarkable. Unbelievable. Impossible. And true. See »

An account of Baron Munchausen\’s supposed travels and fantastical experiences with his band of misfits. Full summary »

Genre: Action,Adventure,Comedy,Drama,Fantasy

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
Release Date: 10 March 1989 (USA)
Country: UK , West Germany
Director: Terry Gilliam
  • John Neville
  • Eric Idle
  • Sarah Polley
  • Oliver Reed
  • Charles McKeown
  • Winston Dennis
  • Jack Purvis
  • Valentina Cortese
  • Jonathan Pryce
  • Bill Paterson
  • Peter Jeffrey
  • Uma Thurman
  • Alison Steadman
  • Ray Cooper
  • Don Henderson

33 Responses to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

  1. novadestin
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    There is a movie like this one but I can only remember one scene from it: (this was NOT animated btw)

    there is a pirate ship or something that goes to the moon, anchors in the air and doesn’t land. then they use a robe ladder to get down and have this big feast or something outside

    I have been looking for this movie for AGES! people have even told me I dreamed it but other people I know remember this scene too! any help would be loved!

  2. EBuzzMiller
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    I’m just curious, and I’d like to hear others opinions on it.

    At the end,after the Baron is shot,we see him back in the theater still on stage. So, what is meant to be going on. Was the entire main of the film just him retelling the story of his adventures?

    It occoured to me because all the actors in the ‘false’ play are played by the same actors as in the main story? Was he just free-associating?

    I like to think we’re seeing Sally’s imaginings of his tale.

    This is a far superior drink to meths. The wankers don’t drink it because they can’t afford it."

  3. MisterMovieMan
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    The new release has been cropped so that the brief partial nudity of Uma Thurman’s breasts is not visible. WHY?! The movie already earned it’s rating years ago. Why cut the movie down now when they don’t need further approval from the MPAA?! Yes I’m sure some people will just call me a pervert but any scene from any classic movie that is cut or cropped would or should disappoint any film buff.

  4. xRambaldiCodex
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    I do believe this may take the cake. I vomited in my mouth watching it.

    I thought I knew who you were?

  5. infodump
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    i’m a huge fan of Terry Gilliam; I saw most of his movies and enjoyed them a lot. however, this one…far too noisy and fast-paced to me, i missed some quiet parts and, particularly, the emotional impact which makes nearly every Gilliam movie for me.

    i always loved the way how outstanding Gilliam merged comedy and tragedy in his movies, but this is comedy nearly all the way. fortunately the ending saved the movie from being a total loss. usually i feel like crying at the end of every Gilliam movie, but i was kind of glad when this one was over.

    You stole my thought. It’s okay. You keep it.

  6. bjmer
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    On Sept. 10, an article appeared in the Globe and Mail headlined "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." It was about Terry Gilliam’s latest film Tideland, starring 10-year-old Canadian actress Jodelle Ferland. It touched upon his past use of a Canadian child actress.

    Globe writer Gayle MacDonald stated, "Filmmakers like Gilliam keep coming to the Canadian talent trough for child actors because our kids, by all accounts, tend to be easy to direct, manage, and mould. Chalk it up to our easy-going, accommodating national character."

    Or you could chalk it up to ACTRA’s child-labour protections, which are much weaker than American counterparts.

    But there’s a lot in that paragraph which makes me shudder. The implication that our children being "managed and moulded" is a good thing makes me very uncomfortable.

    And then there’s the fact that, 17 years ago, I was the first Canadian little girl Gilliam used in a film. I’m always amazed when people don’t question the repercussions of children being managed and moulded in an environment as perverse as a film set. The experience of working on The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, in particular, was traumatic to say the least.

    When I first heard that Terry was shooting a film here with a Canadian little girl, I immediately called ACTRA and asked them to keep a special eye on Jodelle. I also sent Terry an email that I should have sent a long time ago. What follows is the correspondence between us:

    Hi there, Terry.

    I hear you’re making a film in Saskatchewan this summer. I hope you have a great time — there are some great crew people you’ll probably be using from Winnipeg who got into making films because of you. (It’s actually pretty bizarre — I worked out there this winter and at least five people told me that Baron Munchausen was the film that made them choose to be in film.)

    I guess I just wanted to touch base and share a few things about my experience working on that movie. I know you’ll be working with a young girl and I realize we’ve never had a chance to talk about that time — or I guess I mean I haven’t communicated to you what my experiences were, or how I remember them now, or how I feel they affected me. I know you’ve heard varying reports (I can’t remember who told me that) and I realize that it’s not really fair for me to not communicate it all to you directly. Especially since the only people who I hold responsible (and who, by definition were supposed to be responsible) are my parents.

    Basically, I remember being afraid a lot of the time. I felt incredibly unsafe. I remember a couple of trips to the hospital after being in freezing water for long periods of time, losing quite a bit of my hearing for days at a time due to explosives, having my heart monitored when one went off relatively close to me, etc. I remember running through this long sort of corridor where explosives went off every few feet, things were on fire, etc. I cried hysterically in my dad’s lap and begged him to make sure I wouldn’t have to do it again, but I did. I think I did it quite a few more times. I remember the terrifying scene where we were in the boat and the horse jumped out and ended up surfacing a plastic explosive that went off right under my face. I remember being half trampled by a mob of extras and then repeating the scene several times. I remember working very long hours.

    I know I had some fun as well, but it’s pretty much obliterated by the sense of fear, and exhaustion, and of not being protected by the adults around me. And again, the adults who should have been there to protect me were my parents, not you. This, of course, took some time to arrive at. I admit I was pretty furious at you for a lot of years.

    What I went through is nothing compared to what many kids in the world suffer. But it certainly was unusual for a middle-class kid in Toronto, and it hardened and isolated me for many years, I think. It also created a pretty substantial lack of trust in my parents (again, not your fault, but a by-product of the experience).

    This — contrary to how it may read — is not meant to be a guilt trip. You were always fun and fascinating, and you gave me a ton of confidence. You’re a genius and it was a privilege (no matter what my age) to watch you make a great film. I think that film was hell for you, too, and you had enough responsibility just keeping it going without having to be a parent to someone else’s child. I believe that you felt that if there was something that was particularly traumatic to me, that my parents would have informed you and pulled the plug. Of course, this is what should have happened on many occasions. I don’t think my parents were monsters, by any stretch of the imagination. I do think, though, that you can’t underestimate how in awe of you people like them can be. I think they were so shocked and thrilled to have their daughter in a Terry Gilliam movie that they couldn’t see past that. They didn’t want to be an annoyance or an inconvenience to anyone, and it must have been daunting to imagine holding up 100 people for your kid.

    So here’s my point: who knows whom you’ll cast and what their parents will be like. My suspicion is that you might need to be constantly analyzing whether you would put your own 9-year-old in the positions you’ll be putting this kid in. Because it’s entirely likely that the child’s own parents will be (for whatever reason) incapable of making the right call. This is a huge responsibility but I’m starting to think (from watching other kids and parents) that this is a fundamental part of the job when you’re working with kids who should really be in school anyway.

    Here’s some unsolicited advice:

    Try to keep a close eye on the mood of the kid, ask them a lot of questions about how they’re doing, if they want to stop doing what they’re doing, etc. if they seem uncomfortable, afraid, take it upon yourself to make the call as to whether or not it’s best to stop or keep going.

    If there are water scenes in this one — make sure it’s warm!!!! If there are explosions in this one — I really can’t emphasize enough how much better it would be if you could do reaction shots separate from the explosions themselves. I still duck when a car door slams too close or too loud.

    I know it’s probably a sucky way to shoot it — but it might save you another email like this one.

    Sorry for the babbling. I just realized I wasn’t doing either of us any favours by not letting you know this stuff. And I really think you’re a decent person so hearing this might have an impact without being too alienating (I hope).

    Good luck with the film. I know it’ll be brilliant.

    Sarah Polley


    Ever since I started this Canadian project, your name has been at the forefront of most of my Toronto conversations. Every potential crew member I interview ends up including you in the chat. You are ubiquitous. How many people get that adjective thrown at them?

    I also hear you are about to direct your first film. Congratulations. You’ve done brilliantly. You’ve continued to be a wonderful actress and I’m certain you’ll handle directing just as well.

    As far as the scars of Munchausen go, I had no idea that they were that deep. What always impressed me from my side of the camera was how professional you were … always prepared and willing to dive into anything, no matter how difficult, that we organized (possibly that should read, disorganized). In fact, I started taking for granted that you could always be counted on, unlike some of the adults. You seemed so focused, I had no idea you were having such a terrifying time.

    For what it’s worth, we were always concerned to make things safe for you (you were too valuable to the production to allow anything to happen to you). Although things might have seemed to be dangerous, they weren’t.

    The only time events got close to trouble was when the horse jumped from the boat. We all were terrified, however I knew that Angelo Raguzzo was one of the most brilliant horsemen I had ever seen and that he would make sure none of you in the boat were harmed. Nevertheless, the explosion was a f— up and I apologize.

    One thing I’m curious about: Can you tell, when you see Sally in the film, in which of the shots it’s you … and which ones are your double?

    Do you remember that the shots of you in the boat were right at the edge of the tank with stuntmen in the water next to the boat? I only ask, not to minimize your bad memories, but to try to understand the differences in the way you and I remember the events … especially since you were so young and impressionable and sensitive, and yet seemed to be so wise and about 30 years old.

    Luckily, for the girl in the film we are starting, there are no physically dangerous or terrifying scenes. I grant you there are some disturbing ones for adults, but I don’t think so for her.

    Like you, she is in every scene. It’s her film. She’s 9 years old and has been acting since she was 4. Extraordinary! Luckily for her, I’m much older now. And a lot more tired. Possibly a bit more wise, as well. And I will take to heart your suggestions.

    Thanks for making contact. Hopefully, next time I’m in Toronto we can manage a dinner together. I’m curious to learn who you are now.


    Thanks a lot for getting back to me. I do know in retrospect that many things that terrified me were not as terrifying as they seemed then (and I definitely remember that the boat was in a tank) — and I’m pretty sure I know which shots were the double (specifically an overhead shot where little Kiran [stunt double Kiran Shah] is running like the graceless 35-year-old midget he was. I was pretty bitter about this loping run being attributed to me in my girly teens). However — it does raise a question of what I remember vs. what happened. It’s like this with photographs. Whole memories get built around them, which is sometimes a reflection of a general sense of things as they felt at the time, as opposed to what actually occurred.

    So I’m willing to accept that my impressions may have been unlike what an adult might have. I think that’s sort of the point. It wasn’t a good environment for a kid because there were things that could easily be interpreted as dangerous without actually being dangerous. I think it’s harder to make those distinctions as a child, and I didn’t have a lot of support in trying to make them. The really traumatic things that happened are distinct memories that gave me nightmares well before the film came out, so confusion between what the stunt double was doing as opposed to me didn’t really play into my bad memories, I don’t think.

    I really appreciate you responding. I wasn’t sure how you’d react. I hope the film goes really well. I’d love to get together when you are next in Toronto.

    I’ve really appreciated this exchange.


    Postscript: At a film festival event a few weeks ago, I saw Terry for the first time in 17 years. We had a friendly chat and spoke about Jodelle. He said, "She had a great time, you could tell she really loved it, she knows this is what she wants to do, and she was happy to be there …"

    "Then again," he said, "I remember thinking the same thing about you … that’s why I was so surprised to get your emails." He looked confused.

    It would have been difficult for anyone to see how unhappy I was at the time. Like many kids, I was eager to please and good at adapting to difficult situations, storing them away to unpack later. When it came time to publicize The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, I spoke glowingly of Terry and making the film.

    In every interview I’ve read with Jodelle Ferland, she talks about shooting Tideland as a very positive experience. Though she’s still a child, it’s important to respect her impressions of her own film-set experiences, as they stand now. Yet, based on my own experiences, I’m curious about whether her impressions will change. Perhaps I’ll drop her a line in a decade or two to find out.

  7. holtor
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    His name was Hieronymus Carl Friedrich Freiherr von Münchhausen. Why do they bother making up a wrong name and a wrong title? The title "Baron" even never existed in Germany (except for some occasional informal use). The english translation of "Freiherr von" would rather be "Lord", AFAIK; a british baron is less than a Freiherr.

  8. Imhereandthatsall
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    I can’t understand why this movie is only 6,9/10. Is it because people see it as a kid movie?

    Evereything is in this movie. Metaphysics (critics of dualism, security and logics as myths, reality showed on oppsition to this kind of thinking). It’s not only an entertainement.

    It’s the movie where Gilliam goes the further in thesis about reality lready develloped in Brazil.

    I can’t understand this rate. It’s a really great movie. In my opinion the best in the 80’s, and which deserves to be names with the greatest movies ever, (with Godard’s, Lang’s, Eienstein’s, Manckievitz’s…) .

  9. laeyisoracle
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    I recall vividly, during the 80s, a cartoon that was, perhaps, on Nickelodeon’s "Special Delivery" that featured a character like Baron Munchausen(only a younger version) who was riding on cannonballs from fort to fort during a war scene. I also recall a fellow who sneezed great gusts of wind, but the difference was that he lived in solitude on an island with strange trees. These trees bore fruit that caused him to sneeze, hence anybody who tried to approach the island by boat would get caught up in the wind storm, and would never make it to the island(the very reason why that man was lonely). If this sounds familiar to anybody, I’d like to know.

  10. pinkhaa478
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    Which version is better the 1940’s German version or the 1980’s American version?

  11. minalex
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    … conserving an endless war against an imaginary enemy. Am I the only one who saw it this way?

    Recently watched movies:

    The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) (7/10)

    Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) (6/10)

    Empire of Passion (1978) (6/10) 2nd time

  12. funkyfry
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    Those who are big fans of this movie like I have been for seems like 20 years now, you really ought to check out Gilliam’s latest movie "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus." The main character is so much like Baron Munchausen that sometimes you feel like you are watching not only the same character, but the same actor. Such is Gilliam’s rapport and command. Baron Munchausen and Doctor Parnassus are both elderly men who seem to live forever, and who travel the world telling stories that nobody really wants to hear anymore. Both of these films can be seen as critiques of the diminished role of imagination and creativity in the industrial age (likewise "Brazil" treats the same theme). It was such a joy to go to the theater to see "Parnassus" and to see not just hints of the old Gilliam but the great master back in full effect. Although I’m a fan of all his movies, including "Tideland," for me at least this was as if he had just picked up right after "Munchausen" and continued his particular vision again at last. Everybody who’s a fan of "Munchausen" go see it, or rent it if it’s too late, and let me know what you think.

    Did I not love him, Cooch? MY OWN FLESH I DIDN’T LOVE BETTER!!! But he had to say ‘Nooooooooo’

  13. squeekmouse
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    In the crowd scene right near the end, as the Baron leads everyone out the gate (but before the gate opens), you can see what looks like someone in a skeleton costume. It turns out the person is wearing a soldier’s uniform — but a different uniform from that of the other soldiers. At a distance, this uniform (with hat) makes the soldier look like a skeleton…

    Is this intentional? If so, is it Terry Gilliam’s idea, or someone else’s?

    I have a couple of screen shots of this. It’s just before the gate opens…

    Thanks for any insights.

  14. austinholt
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    What is your favorite quote from this movie?

    Mine has to be when Eric Idle’s character says "is there a doctor in the fish?" and then makes that face like he knows it’s a terrible joke.

    I don’t know just how he delivered that line cracked me up.

  15. Koosh_King01
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    When I was a little boy, that thing terrified me! Esp. the scene where the statue of it comes alive while Jonathan Pryce is standing behind it with the sniper rifle. They don’t make nightmare fuel like this anymore!

    One thing though. Who can see it, and why? The only people besides the Baron who see it and react to it are the little girl and Jackson (Pryce’s character). Everyone else seems unaware it exists. Clearly the child saw it due to having been on the Baron’s adventures, but why did Jackson see it? Was it because he had just committed murder and was spiritually vulnerable?

  16. Sea_of_Honey
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    Can someone tell me what the four deleted scenes are? A brief description of each would be great!


    ~*~ Trust the Doc you heard it here ~*~

  17. hamisht
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    Anyone here own the original DVD release of Baron Munchausen?

    I would like to know if it is also cropped to hide Uma Thumans breasts like the Blu-Ray.

  18. G-Quick
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    I hadn’t seen this movie since it came out, so I watched it again as a blast from the past. I was struck at how utterly annoying and hideous Sally is. Could they have possibly found a more atrocious looking child for this movie? The more I watched it, the more I recognized Sarah Polley, from "GO". Not that she’s a looker now, but holy crap she was one fugly kid!

  19. drew_atreides
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    ..definitely one of the defining flicks of my youth.. That closing scene brings tears to my eyes everytime….

    "It wasn’t just a story, was it?"

    When that theme blares away at the end as the Baron gallops off into the

    sunset and our imaginations is just tremendous..

    And the scenes with Venus are just magical. Uma Thurman really was


    Movie deserves SO much more credit then it gets. A classic, in my eyes.

  20. Dalton1962
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    Before I waste any more time on this movie, can someone tell me if the film actually has any point to make by the end? I mean, think back to the first time you saw it. You had to feel it was pointless meandering nonsense by the time they are swallowed by the giant sea monster. That’s when I lost patience with it.

    I’m willing to give it a second chance if some fans tell me it’s worthwhile for something other than the art direction.

  21. cousin_vinny
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    is this movie like monty python and the holy grail…thats what it kinda lokos like from the aws released on dvd today

    ~in love with corey haim~


  22. Anonymous
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    This message has been deleted by the poster

  23. soundshaker21
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    I know why actors sometimes use pseudonyms or uncredited cameos? But does anyone know why Robin Williams go uncredited in Baron Munchausen?

  24. Anonymous
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    This message has been deleted by the poster

  25. inquist2000
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    I never knew what was the city suppose to be that was being laid siege by the Turks in the 18th-19th century. Is it suppose to be Vienna? it looks kinda desolate around the city.

  26. OwlCreekOccurrence
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    Both fantasric films, but which one do you like more? Whilst Time Bandits flies along at a great pace, but I like Baron Munchausen more, as I feel that it is purer Gilliam. Anyhoo, what do people here like more?

    ‘Mr President, we cannot allow a mineshaft gap!’ – Gen. Turgidson, Dr. Strangelove

  27. wanderlost
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    From Marlon Brando’s Trivia Page:

    Turned down the role of Vulcan in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). Director Terry Gilliam was summoned to Brando’s Mulholland Dr. home in Los Angeles to discuss the part, but it became apparent that Brando really wasn’t interested in taking the part. Nonetheless, Gilliam treasured the time he got to spend with Brando. The part later was played by Oliver Reed, who spent his time drinking and trying to seduce Uma Thurman, who was a virgin at the time.


  28. spacemike
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    I’m not talking about the kid, but the Baron’s dog. Someone said Australian Shephard, but I don’t think that’s what it is (at least from a google image search of Australian Shephard..).

    Any ideas?

  29. jason99-1
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    I just got my new Munchausen bluray – at last i have a good copy of a film i love. I never did buy it on DVD as i kept waiting for a special edition and now here it is.

    BUT… it suddenly occured to me whilst watching the movie again that i have seen the angel of death before, not a similar one but the EXACT angel of death in another movie – ‘Dellamore Dellamorte’ an italian zombie movie starring British actor Rupert Everett and directed by Micahel Soavi.

    I did some research and discovered that Soavi was one of the second unit directors on Munchausen so somehow he must have taken the angel of death prop from Munchausen and put it in his own movie – was this officially allowed? Did he steal it? Has Gilliam noticed?

    Does anyone have any backstory info on how this cool looking prop/costume ended up from Munchausen to Dellamore Dellamorte (which incidentally is another film i really enjoy – catch it if you can).

  30. seashellz
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    fun, innocent and adventourous Mckeon is perfect as the Barron

  31. Swill_Merchant
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  32. morgands1
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    Hello, I’ve redesigned and relaunched my Web site, "Wide Angle/Closeup: Conversations With Filmmakers," which includes the extensive "Terry Gilliam Files" section, featuring behind-the-scene coverage of "Munchausen."

    David Morgan

  33. badlt333
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    According to the trivia he filmed some scences that were cut, are they included as deleted scenes on the new dvd?

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