Greatest Film Scenes
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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988, UK)

In writer/director Terry Gilliam's absurdist and imaginative "fantasy to end all fantasies" - a story-within-a-story:

  • the fabulous and fanciful misadventures (illustrated with expensive special effects) of a legendary late-17th century European aristocrat (John Neville) who was a reputed chronic liar -- to the moon in a hot-air balloon created with inflated ladies' underwear along with a stowaway girl Sally Salt (Sarah Polley) to meet the King of the Moon (uncredited Robin Williams) who could detach his head from his body while making love to the Queen of the Moon (Valentina Cortese)
  • their entrance into the interior of a fiery volcano and into the presence of the Roman god Vulcan (Oliver Reed) where the goddess Venus (Uma Thurman) made a spectacular birth entrance from a giant clamshell - and then the Baron experienced a lyrical spinning airborne dance with her
  • the group's entrance into the belly of a whale-sized sea monster where he was reunited with his white horse Bucephalus and used his snuff to 'sneeze' their way out through the whale's blowhole
  • the scene of the Baron's own shooting "death" or assassination by city official "The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson" (Jonathan Pryce) during a victory parade when his life's soul was taken by the Grim Reaper 'doctor' - as the Baron's body was lowered into a grave
Grim Reaper Taking the Baron
Death of Baron
The Baron Riding Off
  • and the characterizations of the Baron's friends, including fast-running Berthold (Eric Idle), Adolphus (Charles McKeown) with miraculous sight for sharp-shooting, wind-blowing Gustavus (Jack Purvis) and super-strong Albrecht (Winston Dennis)
  • the film's twist - the Baron's fabricated tale was also a made-up "story within a story" - it was the final scene of another tall-tale staged story the fabulist was telling the audience as he appeared back on stage and told the audience: "And that was only one of the many occasions on which I met my death, an experience which I don't hesitate strongly to recommend!"
  • Sally Salt - the young daughter of the theater company's leader, remarked incredulously: "It wasn't just a story, was it?"
  • in the finale, the Baron strode through the city's opened gates, rode off onto a faraway hillside onto a faraway hillside on his horse Bucephalus, saluted the town, and then cryptically disappeared

The Baron in Hot-Air Balloon with Stowaway Sally

King of the Moon

Goddess Venus
(Uma Thurman)

Venus with Vulcan

Sally Salt (Sarah Polley): "It wasn't just a story, was it?"


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