Combustible Celluloid
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With: 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, Robin Williams, Sting
Written by: Charles McKeown, Terry Gilliam
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 126
Date: 12/08/1988

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Lies and Balderdash

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A huge flop, Terry Gilliam's epic comedy/fantasy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989) began with the idea of a spinner of tall tales, Baron Munchausen (John Neville), and took it in nearly every direction possible. The baron's yarns include a trip to the moon via balloon, aging in reverse, a giant sea monster, dancing on air, and brushes with the Angel of Death. Gilliam's extraordinary visuals are far deeper and more cockeyed than nearly any other filmmaker (except maybe Fellini); a former animator for Monty Python, he seems unaware of any kind of physical limitations in the film medium. It's easy to see how the production spun out of control, going over budget, never able to recoup its costs. Nine year-old Sarah Polley co-stars, with Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce (also in Gilliam's Brazil), Oliver Reed, and uncredited Robin Williams as the King of the Moon. Uma Thurman makes a memorable entrance as the goddess Venus, inside a giant shell.

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