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Baron Munchausen's Dream (1911)

Les aventures de baron de Munchhausen (original title)
After an evening of excessive wining and dining Baron Munchausen must be helped to bed by his servants. Once asleep, he has bizarre and frightening dreams.

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After an evening of excessive wining and dining Baron Munchausen must be helped to bed by his servants. Once asleep, he has bizarre and frightening dreams.

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November 1911 (USA)  »

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Baron Munchausen's Dream  »

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1.33 : 1
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Version of Die Abenteuer des Freiherrn von Münchhausen (1944) See more »

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Somebody put something in Baron's drink
24 November 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I think at first Melies' putting Baron Munchausen in the middle of these hallucinations or dreams or what have you distracted me; this is why cross-cutting between different points of view became such a wonderful innovation in cinema, because prior to that, like here, you had to simply show the actor in the middle of the situation. That's what Baron does for the first few dreams/hallucinations he is having, which includes mysterious and alluring women, historical backdrops (ancient Egypt and Rome), and, uh, other women acting like giant water fountains spraying out water from their mouths in formation... sure, why not.

But what is in this short's favor is that Melies isn't afraid to get weird and disturbing with the imagery; on the contrary, he is soaking up what is one of the hallmarks of Munchausen stories: the bizarre, the alluring, the devilish, the exciting and the truly surreal. Oh, and the moon makes an appearance, or two or more. For those who come to this having seen Terry Gilliam's Munchausen (and this was just something I thought of watching it, ironically, the main actor playing Munchausen looks like Gilliam in a wig, major hammy comic acting included), the moon is a big part of it, as are the alluring women (remember Robin Williams and Uma Thurman?)

I think what makes Melies film distinct is how fluid all of the set pieces go, like in an actual dream, where one thing goes into another into another, and moments like the women suddenly turning into lizard people, or when a monster in a f***ed up suit (almost like a pet dragon or something with googly-eyes), it feels all OF a piece. It's all stream of consciousness and maybe repetitive in a few points, but it carries a boldness that makes this director's work so distinct even today. It's playful, erratic, and magnificent.


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