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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1943)

Münchhausen (original title)
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:
...
Wilhelm Bendow ...
Der Mondmann
Brigitte Horney ...
Michael Bohnen ...
Herzog Karl von Braunschweig
...
...
Freiherr von Hartenfeld
Hermann Speelmans ...
Christian Kuchenreutter
Marina von Ditmar ...
Sophie von Riedesel
Andrews Engelmann ...
Fürst Potemkin
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  »

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

Joseph Goebbels, Reichsminister of propaganda and also chief of the German UFA Studios, ordered this film to be made for the 25th anniversary of UFA. See more »

Goofs

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

Connections

Referenced in Jacquot de Nantes (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
An interesting and somewhat disturbing movie
14 April 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I first saw "Münchhausen" in my native Romania as a child during the war (I mean WWII) and the scene of the baron's landing on the moon and having a conversation with the head, lying on the ground, of a woman who left the rest of her body in her lunar home, made such a powerful impression on me that to this day I remember it in all its funny details. It was also the first movie in color I had ever seen; yes, those were the days when movies, as a rule, were in black and white.

Revisiting the movie now, as a euphemistically labeled "senior citizen," I was surprised that it holds up quite well. It amuses, it surprises, it is well acted, the dialog is clever, written after all by the famous novelist Erich Kästner under a pseudonym to cover up the fact that the Nazis saw themselves forced to employ him after burning his books.

There is something quite disturbing in hindsight about this movie. Why was it made? It was released in the year between the Battle of Stalingrad and the Allied Normandy Invasion the two events that were to seal Germany's fate. Was it an attempt to sustain both at home and abroad the far-fetched illusion that the war was going so well that all the German people cared about was laughing at the Baron Münchhausen's lies? Or was it an attempt at showing that Babelsberg could produce a grand spectacle just as well as Hollywood? And if a spectacle was being offered, why, in a country in which mass murder and deception were the order of the day, was even the hero to be a liar?

I am asking these questions because much in this movie is disturbing for reasons related to them. Take the Baron himself, played in this movie by Hans Albers, the greatest star, the Clark Gable of German movies in those years, yet by the time of this movie a man in his fifties pretending to be irresistible to females. It is as if MGM had cast an aging Adolphe Menjou as Rhett Butler in "Gone With the Wind." Now Albers is a fine actor, but to enjoy the movie you definitely have to suspend disbelief and pretend that the aging actor riding the cannonball is not bothered by arthritic pain.

The sets look more like cheap nouveau-riche furnishings and the costumes are cut from wartime stock. Ilse Werner, as Princess Isabella d'Este, is as beautiful as ever, and as Count Cagliostro we get to see Ferdinand Marian, the actor who just a few years earlier had disgraced himself by playing the lead in "Jud Süss," the most disgusting anti-Semitic propaganda film ever made, a fact that ultimately led Marian to alcoholism and a DUI death at war's end, considered a suicide by many.

Now, one can say, let's just watch the film for what it is, and not in its historic context. But then, Marian's acting of Cagliostro, a swindler, is crafted with the same mannerisms he used in creating the Jew Süss. In short, the undeniable artistic qualities of this movie are infected with the severe moral deficiencies of its makers, and this surprisingly renders the movie more interesting than it has any right of being. This is what disturbs me.


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