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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

An account of Baron Munchausen's supposed travels and fantastical experiences with his band of misfits.


Terry Gilliam


Charles McKeown (screenplay), Terry Gilliam (screenplay)
3,943 ( 1,100)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 11 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Neville ... Hieronymus Karl Frederick Baron von Munchausen
Eric Idle ... Desmond / Berthold
Sarah Polley ... Sally Salt
Oliver Reed ... Vulcan
Charles McKeown ... Rupert / Adolphus
Winston Dennis ... Bill / Albrecht
Jack Purvis ... Jeremy / Gustavus
Valentina Cortese ... Queen Ariadne / Violet
Jonathan Pryce ... The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson
Bill Paterson ... Henry Salt
Peter Jeffrey ... Sultan
Uma Thurman ... Venus / Rose
Alison Steadman ... Daisy
Ray Cooper Ray Cooper ... Functionary
Don Henderson ... Commander


The fantastic tale of an 18th century aristocrat, his talented henchmen and a little girl in their efforts to save a town from defeat by the Turks. Being swallowed by a giant sea-monster, a trip to the moon, a dance with Venus and an escape from the Grim Reaper are only some of the improbable adventures. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Adventure, Comedy, Romance. He was full of it. See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



UK | West Germany



Release Date:

10 March 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Abenteuer des Baron Münchhausen See more »


Box Office


$46,630,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$597,400, 12 March 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Dolby SR


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


In the opening, when Sally is writing DAUGHTER on the poster on the statue's base, she has finished writing it in the close-up. When the camera switches to the high angle, she only has DAUGH written. See more »


[Vulcan seethes with jealousy as the Baron escorts his wife, Venus, to the ballroom]
Vulcan: Come and see the ballroom. Come and see... the ballroom.
[still fuming as they enter]
Vulcan: NICE, ISN'T IT?
See more »

Crazy Credits

This is a new motion picture. This motion picture is not to be confused with the UFA/Transit/Murnau 1942/43 motion picture bearing the title 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen'. See more »

Alternate Versions

Recent prints, including home video reissues, have included a new card during the end. It has been inserted between the end title and "The End" and reads: "This is a new motion picture. This motion picture is not to be confused with the UFA/Transit/Murnau 1942/43 motion picture bearing the title 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen'." This refers to the German production of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen that was made during the Nazi era and underwent restoration by the F.W. Murnau Foundation during the 1990s. See more »


Edited into Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012) See more »


The Torturer's Apprentice
Music & Lyrics by Michael Kamen & Eric Idle
Used by the permission of K Man Corporation & Kay-Gee-Bee Music Limited
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Before "The Golden Compass", and before "Stardust"
13 May 2008 | by BlueghostSee all my reviews

And all the other fantasy market driven flicks to come out in recent years at the time of this writing, there was Gilliam's take on Munchausen.

Though the miniature effects by today's standards might seem rather primitive, the scope and scale of the film, combined with some exceptional and exquisite art direction and acting, create an incredible visual tapestry. Unknown to much of the audience at the time, Gilliam's film was to be the future of movies in terms of genre and character exposition. I and an acquaintance of mine at the time were hopeful that "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" would succeed, because then it would open the doors for other "superhero" films, and push story telling to its limits. But, that was back in 1989, and the boom that we anticipated took some fifteen years to take off. Well, at least our careers weren't riding on that hedge... but I digress.

The other aspect of this film, as I was reminded of on the IMDb BBS, is that the story itself is a blend of both an old Russian tale, "The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship", and Rupert Raspe's take on Baron Munchausen's tall tales. In short, without divulging facts of either sets of fables, the Baron, as originally portrayed, was just a little too robust, and the Russian tale offers a chance to splinter the Baron's self aggrandizement.

Some facts you won't find in the film; Baron Munchausen was a real man, and liked to "brag" about himself (to put it mildly). He actually fought for the Turks, being a German mercenary for hire. He claimed to have all kinds of amazing abilities with a gentleman's character (even having visited Royalty as well as the U.S. and the president in the white-house), but was more or less simply a soldier of fortune.

Gilliam's film, in this vein, pays homage to Munchausen, real and fictional alike by playing fast and loose with the "facts" of his dual existence. In this way it's a pleasant ride, and the sets and locations are incredible to look at.

Critiques; there's a couple of miniature shots that bug me--in particular the ballroom dancing sequence. I'm sure it was a difficult shot to get, but some articulation of the models was really a must to sell this sequence. Using a process shot for the closeups kind of added to the destruction of the illusion. Putting the actors on a scissor's life, and shooting them against the actual set would've served the production better, and probably saved money (a must for this production). Also, it's a tragedy the moon sequence, as originally envisioned, wasn't realized. Were left with two actors to carry that sequence, instead of the highly populated kingdom as described in the actual tales.

The new DVD is a blessing. The colors and details of the film are far richer than the original DVD release. The colors are vibrant and rich in luminosity. They accentuate the late 18th century visual thrust that this film is attempting to deliver. On top of that the overall level of visual information has been enhanced from both initial DVD and VHS releases. One can almost feel the texture of the clothes and clouds as they scroll and undulate across the screen. A definite plus.

A very fine film that predates superhero and fantasy genres by almost a couple of decades. As I stated earlier, some of the SFX may not hold, but the overall scope of the film should prove more than a counterweight to this, and give to the viewer an emotional and visual effulgent experience.

WARNING; it's not a film for everyone. As a family film it skirts the edges of PG and PG-13 territory, and the far-out nature of the film may be a bit too existential for some adults to absorb. Still, I liked it very much.

Enjoy :-)

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