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

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,265 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
...
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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Release Date:

6 August 1943 (Hungary)  »

Also Known As:

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen  »

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(restored) | (premiere)

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(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 »

Connections

Referenced in Göring's Baton (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Munchhausen on the cannon ball is pure movie magic!
28 June 2010 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Baron Karl Friedrich Hieronymus von Munchhausen was a historic German nobleman, who became famous for throwing lavish parties at his home in Bodenwerder, where he told the most fantastic tall tales about his adventures. Now a well-known literary figure, Munchhausen has become a synonym for unbelievable and exciting adventures, that often involve tremendous exaggerations and even lies. It's not surprising that the wonderful stories of this man were eventually made into a movie, and interestingly enough it was the one that celebrated the 25 year anniversary of the German UFA film studios. Even more interesting though, is the fact that it was made in Nazi Germany during World War II, and yet doesn't contain one single anti-Semitic reference or propaganda for the cause of the National Socialist Party.

Extremely funny and hilariously entertaining, Josef von Baky created an unusual and highly original odyssey through Europe, of a man pursuing the exciting and adventurous. Those who have read the stories, know that some of Munchhausen's more famous deeds include his ride on the cannonball, tying his horse to the tip of a church tower and breaking into the ice, out of which he pulls himself by his own hairs. The first one mentioned can be found in the movie, as well as other humorous scenes, that perfectly fit into the Munchausen concept. Munchhausen lived at the end of the 18th century in Brunswick, but he always traveled around Europe with his loyal servant Christian Kuchenreuter. The story starts out with Munchhausen returning from one of his several trips to his residence in Bodenwerder, where all the jackets in his cabinet get rabies and Christian introduces a fascinating substance, that makes a man's beard grow in a matter of seconds. Hours later, Munchausen leaves for the court of Prince Anton Ulrich of Brunswick, who is commanded to leave for St. Petersburg, and would like Munchhausen to accompany him. On their way to Russia, Munchhausen and Christian encounter the dark Count Cagliostro, who is wanted all over Europe for performing notorious witchcraft. He plainly tells Munchhausen of his intentions to become count of the Courland, and asks Munchhausen to assist him, which he denies, by telling him that he has absolutely no intention of reigning. In St. Petersburg, he meets Katharina the Great and the two become lovers, and he also meets Cagliostro again, and warns him that Katharina intends to arrest him. Out of gratitude, Cagliostro gives Munchausen a ring that makes him invisible and the ultimate gift of eternal youth, as long as Munchhausen wants it.

Baron Munchhausen was never very complex in the original stories, as they mostly focused on his fairy tales, rather than the vast and interesting personality. But here, the man is a very deep and powerful character, who sees people die around him, while he possesses the gift of eternal life, and becomes more and more torn between his desire for adventure and that to share a mortal life with his friends and loved ones. For this movie the basic concept of the Munchhausen stories was changed a bit, with the film being somewhat of a life story, even though there is no real linear plot, with the narrative reminding more of episodes. While a lot of the film is actually more of a historical drama than fantasy, many scenes will bring you into the wonderful world of Baron Munchhausen, including the cream that makes your hair grow in a matter of seconds, the rifle that can shoot accurately for hundreds of miles and the ride to the moon in an air balloon. An exemplary tale of imagination and creative adventures, Munchhausen's visual effects can't measure up the ones of today, of course, but in perspective to the times, they are absolutely stunning.

Some of the acting in this movie really stands out, even though it mostly centers around the colorful sets. Hans Albers makes the perfect Baron Munchhausen, a witty, intelligent, charismatic and very deep character, who is not the perfect hero, but a man who goes through life trying to have it as exciting as possible. Whether he's deeply philosophical, in the middle of one of his fun adventures, or once again seducing a beautiful woman, Albers is extremely convincing as the flawed, but good-hearted Munchhausen, who learns a lot during his life, enough to choose mortality over eternal life at the end. The film features a huge ensemble of characters, and many of them are just part of one episodes in Munchhausen's life. Hermann Speelmans, who plays Munchhausen's loyal servant and friend Christian Kuchenreuter, was also an exemplary casting choice, and manages to be funny (growing his beard in a matter of seconds) and very emotional (rapid aging on the moon) in a number of scenes. Another performer who really stands out is Ferdinand Marian, as the mysterious Count Cagliostro, who is very power-hungry, self-serving, but in the end a thankful and appreciative man, who rewards Munchhausen for warning him by giving him the eternal youth. Brigitte Horney as Katharina the Great is also great in her role, as the proud monarch, who is completely charmed by Munchhausen.

Another thing that might shock you is the nudity in this movie, that wouldn't get past any US-censor these days, as well as some pretty explicit sexual jokes. Therefore, "Munchhausen" really is a fairy tale for adults and not necessarily for children.

What's left to say, is that "Munchhausen" is a beautiful tale of adventures and imagination, that is an impressive document of what Germany's film industry was able to conjure in the 1940s already. And when Hans Albers rides on the cannon ball, turns his head to the audience, and takes off his hat in greeting, you will completely be captured by his charismatic and smart personality that brings the magic to this outstanding movie.


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