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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1943)
"Münchhausen" (original title)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,255 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 17 critic

This lavish, impudent, adult fairy tale takes the viewer from 18th-century Braunschweig to St. Petersburg, Constantinople, Venice, and then to the moon using ingenious special effects, stunning location shooting.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hans Albers ...
Wilhelm Bendow ...
Der Mondmann
...
Zarin Katharina II
Michael Bohnen ...
Herzog Karl von Braunschweig
...
...
Freiherr von Hartenfeld
Hermann Speelmans ...
Christian Kuchenreutter
Marina von Ditmar ...
Sophie von Riedesel
Andrews Engelmann ...
Käthe Haack ...
Waldemar Leitgeb ...
Walter Lieck ...
Der Läufer
Hubert von Meyerinck ...
Prinz Anton Ulrich
Jaspar von Oertzen ...
Graf Lanskoi
Werner Scharf ...
Prinz Francesco d'Este
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Storyline

This lavish, impudent, adult fairy tale takes the viewer from 18th-century Braunschweig to St. Petersburg, Constantinople, Venice, and then to the moon using ingenious special effects, stunning location shooting.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Details

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Release Date:

6 August 1943 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(restored) | (premiere)

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Agfacolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer Erich Kästner is widely reported to be billed as "Berthold Bürger" on this film, but there is in fact no writing credit at all. Kästner was a banned author in Nazi Germany and his books were among those burnt in 1933, which might account for the lack of writing credit here. See more »

Goofs

Sophia's "beauty spots" disappear and reappear during the opening scenes of the film. See more »

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User Reviews

 
MUNCHHAUSEN {The 2004 Restored Edition} (Josef von Baky, 1943) ***
18 December 2006 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

I first watched this in the early 1990s on Italian TV; back then, I didn't even know it existed and, in all probability, the version I watched was trimmed - since the full-blown restoration wasn't carried out until 2004! Anyway, I remember the film with affection and I thoroughly enjoyed rewatching it on DVD (even if this version is still several minutes shy of its 134-minute original length!).

For being made right in the middle of WWII, this is an obscenely expensive - circa $35 million in today's currency - spectacle (given pretty much carte blanche, the producers went overschedule and overbudget) commissioned by the Nazis - but scripted, ironically, by a Jew - on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Germany's foremost film unit, UFA, it was also seen as a direct response to such foreign-made extravaganzas as Hollywood's THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) and Britain's THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940)! The character of the tale-spinning Baron Munchausen originated in a book by 18th century author Gottfried August Burger which, along the years, has inspired 4 feature-film adaptations (as well as a Silent short by pioneering wizard Georges Melies and an animated short that was thankfully included on the Kino DVD and which will be discussed separately). Despite the stature accorded the 1988 Terry Gilliam version THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (which I watched only once several years ago and recall being a somewhat hit-or-miss affair), the 1943 film emerges as perhaps the most satisfying cinematic rendition overall.

The film is book-ended by scenes with a contemporary i.e. 1940s setting, in which the Baron (played as a dashing yet cunning womanizer rather than the Quixotic fool envisioned by Terry Gilliam) recounts some of his adventures - in the third person - to a naïve young couple (the female member of which had fallen under his spell at a fancy-dress ball). The rest is an episodic fantasia in which Munchausen - usually driven by the promise of a romance and accompanied by his faithful sidekick - journeys from one country to the other (meeting along the way historical historical figures like Czarina Catherine The Great, Giacomo Casanova and the magician Cagliostro, who endows him with both immortality and the power of invisibility, as well as purely invented characters such as the self-proclaimed "world's fastest runner") until he ends up on the moon itself. Quality varies but the end result, as a whole, is a delight and a veritable feast for the eyes (thanks, in no small measure to the highly pleasing Agfacolor, the splendid production design and the charmingly primitive special effects).

Still, one thing that bothered me about the DVD was the fact that the subtitles barely allowed one time to read them (in all fairness, this had a lot to do with the virtually uninterrupted flurry of the film's dialogue itself - hence, something other than a thin white font should have been adopted)! The extras were more extensive than I had anticipated and up to Kino's standards for a "Special Edition" release

  • the best, however, was the 17-minute interview with the head of the


German archival company that handled the current restoration, which goes into some detail about this as well as the production of the film itself.

DIE ABENTEUER DES BARON MUNCHHAUSEN - EINE WINTERREISE (Hans Held, 1944) **1/2 {6/10}: A pleasant animated short from Germany about the popular title character, made in color but containing no dialogue; it came hot on the heels of the 1943 epic film version - though the latter, apparently, left no recognizable impression on it (as the Baron here looked and acted nothing like the part as played by Hans Albers, nor was the plot 'lifted' from some particular sketch in the episodic film). In fact, the short presents only a couple of incidents (presumably taken from the book which inspired the film version in the first place, and several others made before and after it): one in which the Baron's horse ends up dangling in the air from the façade of a building (seen in the front-cover illustration of the book from which Albers reads during the modern sequences in the film, though the episode itself is not re-enacted) and then when the two of them are chased by a hungry wolf in the snow, with the latter proceeding to swallow the horse in one gulp and replaces it in leading the Baron's sled!


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