My 100 favourite films. Entry #26: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
directed by Terry Gilliam
starring John Neville, Erid Idle and Sarah Polley
country: uk
genre: fantasy

Visuals: 10
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 7

As usual, I spent some time grabbing screenshots from this movie to post on my blog. When finished, I realized that I had grabbed almost 50 shots from the film. I've since whittled it down to 38 shots which I feel are all great candidates for portraying the visual artistry of this film. I'll try to keep it to 10, but it's hard; the film just looks so good. In the world of fantasy, I feel that a film should look "good." It's not so much important in say a talky drama that focuses mainly on characters or dialogue or your standard rom-com or popcorn-munching action film. In a fantasy however, things truly need to look fantastic. Reality needs to be constantly skewered, be it with overly bright colors, odd and distorted angles or purposefully theatrical set design.

A perfect example is a scene where the character of Berthold rests under an apple tree. Gilliam uses matte paintings and bright colors to enhance the theatricality, the fantasy, the unreality of the moment and practically the entire film. It's not the first such moment in the film and it's definitely not the last, but it's the best and maybe most beautiful example in the entire movie.

Fantasies like this have the cleverness that I feel is missing from a lot of recent popular fantasy films. Those are all witches and elves and mystical rings and prophecies (a plot contrivance that always pisses me off). They have good stuff, to be sure, but it's not witches and spells that I'm interested in, it's imagination. In other words, it's sailing on the moon, falling to Earth from space, meeting Vulcan, running faster than a bullet and riding on a cannonball.


3 comment(s).:

September 22, 2008 at 5:05 PM MPU said...

I'm guessing that one falls into your top ten.

September 22, 2008 at 8:57 PM Lee said...

You know what, it's actually probably not. I really love this movie and I've praised it pretty highly here, but I also didn't mention its drawbacks. I think I might also leave it out because I don't want that mental Top Ten too cluttered with Gilliam films.

September 28, 2008 at 5:10 PM Jefferysan said...

You know how I feel about this film. Probably my least favorite movie of all time as a child.