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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) Poster

Trivia

Jump to: Director Cameo (1) | Director Trademark (2)
Forms an informal trilogy with director Terry Gilliam's previous films, Time Bandits (1981) and Brazil (1985). The three movies represent the three stages of Man (youth, middle age, and elderly) and the impact of imagination on each. Jack Purvis also appears in all three films.
The role of the King of the Moon was intended for Sean Connery until the role was largely cut. Sean Connery didn't think it was "kingly" enough, thus the role was played by Robin Williams.
This was Uma Thurman's first acting job, although because of the inordinate production delays for this movie, was not her debut. She also belongs to the very short list of actors who were hired on their very first audition.
Robin Williams played the King of the Moon. The credits list "Ray D. Tutto". This is the English transliteration of the Italian phrase "Re' di Tutto", which means "King of Everything", which was how the King of the Moon introduces himself to the Baron. Robin Williams performed the part as soon as he arrived in England after a transatlantic flight.
Sting's cameo came about because he happened to be Terry Gilliam's neighbor at the time.
Sarah Polley, nine years old at the time, didn't enjoy making The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). She recalled the experience as traumatic: "It definitely left me with a few scars...It was just so dangerous. There were so many explosions going off all around me, which is traumatic to a kid whether dangerous or not. Being in freezing water for long periods of time. Working endless hours. It was physically grueling and unsafe."
Most of Robin Williams' dialogue was ad-libbed.
John Neville was not a film actor at the time, preferring the theater. However, he was also a big Monty Python fan so he readily agreed to take the lead.
With delays and postponements, the film was already $2 million over budget before a single frame had been shot.
Baron Munchausen's dog is named Argos, which was the name of Odysseus' dog in "The Odyssey." Baron Munchausen orders Argos to "stay" when he leaves for his adventure, and Argos is there to greet the Baron when he returns to the besieged city, as Odysseus' dog Argos did in "The Odyssey."
Federico Fellini was filming Intervista (1987) on an adjacent soundstage at Cinecitta and popped in one afternoon to see his previous collaborator Dante Ferretti and to meet Terry Gilliam. He was amazed at the amount of money being spent on a fantasy film.
On the first day of shooting in Almeria, Spain, Terry Gilliam managed to get 24 seconds of footage in the can. He was hampered by gusting winds and the fact that the costumes sent over from Rome were held up at the airport due to Spanish custom workers being on strike. He managed to secure 35 seconds of footage on the second day.
John Neville was unable to read or eat properly because of the size of his prosthetic nose.
Munchausen throws out roses to all the women except one; when Sally asks for a flower, he throws her a scarlet pimpernel.
One of the Turkish treasury guards crosses himself in a moment of despair. This is because the Turks often recruited Italian captives into their service. Even if they were officially converts to Islam, they might often revert to type in situations such as this.
According to director Terry Gilliam, Columbia Pictures opened the film in the United States with only 48 prints. He also claims that only 117 prints were in distribution, a mere fraction of of the number of prints normally ordered by a major distributor for even the most modest release.
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Terry Gilliam wanted Peter O'Toole for the role of Baron Munchausen.
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Michael Palin was originally cast as the Prime Minister of the Moon but the character was written out of the film. As a consolation Terry Gilliam offered him a cameo role as a man who dies while singing a song, but Palin declined. Gilliam took the cameo role himself.
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This film became notorious for its many production problems and cost overruns. Making matters worse was the change in regimes at Columbia Pictures. The new regime, not wanting any production from the old regime to "shine", simply buried the film during its U.S. release. There were many markets, especially the smaller ones, in the U.S. where this movie was not booked at all.
Part of the reason why the production ran into lot of problems was due to the climate in Rome. Most scenes in Rome could only be shot at night. When the new regime at Columbia took over, producer Arnon Milchan, whom Terry Gilliam worked with on Brazil (1985), was fired. To this day, Gilliam blames the late Dawn Steel, former Columbia Pictures president, for 'burying the film'.
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Terry Gilliam has admitted that he wasted the talents of highly regarded British actress Alison Steadman in a tiny role.
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This was John Neville's first film since The Adventures of Gerard (1970) 18 years earlier.
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After the first 10 days of filming at Cinecitta, Terry Gilliam had only 17 minutes of footage in the can.
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The name of the Baron's horse is "Bucephalus". This was the name of Alexander the Great's horse.
The first DVD released by Columbia in Europe.
Jon Pertwee was a strong contender for the role of Munchausen.
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The character names Gustavus and Adolphus, when put together, form the name of Gustavus Adolphus College, in St. Peter, Minnesota. Terry Gilliam is from nearby Minneapolis.
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During an interview for Turner Classic Movies, Terry Gilliam revealed that the producers tried to get Marlon Brando for the part of Vulcan, and that he had a very enjoyable afternoon talking with him one to one, until they were joined by the producer and Brando's agent.
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Venus is introduced in a live action recreation of the painting Nascia di Venere (Birth of Venus) by Sandro Botticelli, from 1486.
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An outbreak of horse fever in Spain meant that all the horses that had been in training for months in Rome were forbidden to travel to the film's Spanish location.
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Along with the numerous production problems, Terry Gilliam was nearly fired from the film.
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Originally Terry Gilliam planned to have a whole herd of cows in the Vulcan set. But because of escalating costs and a revised budget, he was only allowed one.
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Christopher Lambert filmed scenes that were cut from the final print.
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The song that is sung by the cyclops when Vulcan carries off Venus to the bedroom is the old Welsh Lullaby "All Through the Night".
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The first film to be produced by Prominent Features, the collective formed by the various members of Monty Python.
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As a harbinger of the film's series of unlucky incidents, the start of filming had to be postponed for a week due to Dante Ferretti's elaborate set not being ready in time. A crane collapsing into it didn't help matters, postponing the film's start by another week.
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After Sean Connery withdrew from the film, Gene Wilder and Walter Matthau were considered for King of the Moon.
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Director's trade mark: "Persons of Short Stature". In most every Gilliam film there is an actor of short stature. In this one, the character of Gustavus is played by Jack Purvis.
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A lot of the negative press about the film turned out to emanate from the completion bond company, Film Finances. Their lawyer was Steve Ransohoff, son of producer Martin Ransohoff who was also Ray Stark's friend and partner. Stark and then Columbia head David Puttnam had an ongoing feud which many felt ultimately led to the unceremonious ousting of Puttnam from the film studio's management where he was quickly replaced by Dawn Steel.
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The first draft of the screenplay was written by Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown before Brazil (1985) had made it to theaters.
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By the end of the first week of shooting, the production was already a week behind schedule.
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Steven Berkoff is often wrongly credited with being in this film by some "Who's Who" books.
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Max Wall turned down the role of the sea captain.
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Director Cameo 

Terry Gilliam:  as "irritating singer inside fish". He originally filmed an additional scene where he sat against the wall of the ship, coughing, and died almost immediately.
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Director Trademark 

Terry Gilliam:  [cages]  On the Moon, the Baron, Sally and Berthold are imprisoned in a style of cage seen often in Gilliam films.
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Terry Gilliam:  [burst]  the Baron and his horse.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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