Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Week of Gilliam: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

A hardy welcome to all for Day 3 of A Week of Gilliam. I will explain that I am glossing over or simply skipping Brazil. I found it pretentious at best. I know many a Gilliam fan will state I didn't get it and that is fine. Moving on to today's film brings us tall tales, absurd notions and odd happenings so we are guaranteed to be entertained. Our story tells the tale of an 18th century aristocrat, his collective henchmen and a little girl attempt to thwart the Turks. This is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Surely a men among men.

With a small town under siege from the Turks shelling them day after day, food shortage and next to no arms to defend themselves, the good people retreat to the theater. Yes that does sound a bit daft but come on, these people are depressed, drained and possibly dying. They could use the distraction. The town is war torn thanks to "The Age of Reason" as the Turkish army is merely outside the city gates poised to overthrow the governing body, the mayor, The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson (Jonathan Pryce of Roger Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Selling Hitler, Glengarry Glen Ross, Tomorrow Never Dies and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), a man who is such a tit, he orders the death of a soldier performing feats of heroism worthy of legend and song so not to undermine the rest of morale amongst the troops. What!?! WHAT!?!! FYI, our brave soldier was played by Sting. Moving on, the performance continues until it is interrupted by an elderly man claiming to be the true Baron Munchausen (John Neville of A Study in Terror, The Company of Five, The First Churchills, The Adventures of Gerard, Grand, By Way of the Stars, Little Women, Silver Surfer, The X-Files and Crime and Punishment) and he establishes that the Sultan and he were very close at one time where only his incredible luck is what saved his life time and time again.

Uh-oh Eric Idle has poop face.

Among his own abilities he has some astounding assistants such as: Berthold (Eric Idle of Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Odd Job, Life of Brian, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, Yellowbeard, The Transformers: The Movie, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Nearly Departed, Discworld, Discworld II: Mortality Bytes!, Hercules, Suddenly Susan and Ella Enchanted) the fastest man alive, Adolphus (Charles McKeown of Brazil, Erik the Viking, Life of Brian, American Friends, The Young Indiana Chronicles and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) a rifleman with extrordinary eyesight, Gustavus (Jack Purvis of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi, Brazil, Labyrinth, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Oingo Boingo: Skeletons in the Closet and The Silver Chair) a dwarf with super hearing and enough lung power to drop an army on its back with one deep exhalation and the superhuman strength of Albrecht (Winston Dennis of Wolcott, Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Nuns on the Run and The Commitments).


Gunfire disrupts the Baron's story and Jackson has the contract for the acting troupe canceled due to the Baron. The Baron is about to end it all when the troupe and theater company's daughter Sally Salt (Sarah Polley of Blue Monkey, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Ramona, Exotica, Avonlea, eXistenZ, Go, The Life Before This, Dawn of the Dead, Slings and Arrows and Splice) pleads for him to end this war and bring down the Turks. With a rogue cannonball flight later, it is off to make a hot air balloon out of ladies' knickers. Thankfully loads of bloomers rather than some silk or satin thongs or you would be sewing for months.

A quick trek to the moon to find Berthold as we find he has angered the King of the Moon (the late, great Robin Williams of Mork & Mindy, Moscow on the Hudson, The Fisher King, Hook, Aladdin, The Birdcage, Good Will Hunting, Happy Feet, Night at the Museum and The Big Wedding) giving Berthold got a wee bit frisky the Queen of the Moon, the unlikely trio land safely on Earth after a few issues in time to attend a party where the Roman God Vulcan (the late Sir Oliver Reed of Oliver!, The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, Tommy, Condorman, Funny Bones, The Bruce and Gladiator) and he and his lovely wife Venus (Uma Thurman of Pulp Fiction, Gattaca, Batman & Robin, Beautiful Girls, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Tape, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Paycheck, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Be Cool, The Producers, Motherhood, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lighting Thief and Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair) finding Albrecht and off they go again due to Vulcan's insane jealousy towards any man dare give a second glance to Venus. Dropped in the South Seas and swallowed by a massive creature of the sea, our heroes find Gustavus, Adolphus and even the Baron's horse Bucephalus. A bit of snuff later as the lot are sneezed free of the leviathan, the crew tells the Baron they are far too old and tired for such adventuring nonsense and he gives them an earful about diligence and duty to no avail. There is nothing more he can do but surrender directly to the Sultan. Can the amazing associates save the Baron??? Will the Angel of Death visit the Baron for the final time???

With a budget of $23 million bumped to $35 for final costs and post-production this odd film of an older man reminiscing about adventures long since past out for one more journey to death and glory. Sadly with special camera effects, explosive pyrotechnics, scale modeling and trick photography it only managed $8 million in the US box office due to Columbia Pictures very limited print release. They apparently were fed up with the complaints of Gilliam, the budget jumping back and forth, his negligence to Sarah Polley who was nine at the time stuck in ice cold water for prolong periods of time for better footage and working his people through the wringer to establish that one perfect performance or shot. Pythoner Eric Idle's thoughts were very simple. Go see the Gilliam movie for its brilliance, DON'T be in them because it is f**king madness!!!

Seem to be lacking a bit of plumage, sir.