The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) 720p

Movie Poster
The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) - Movie Poster
Adventure | Comedy
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Czech 2.0  
Run Time:
83 min
IMDB Rating:
7.7 / 10 
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Directors: Karel Zeman [Director] ,

Movie Description:
The stories of Baron Münchhausen were enriched by Karel Zeman with a character of a modern astronaut Tommy and compare two different worlds - the world of a rococo cavalier whose fantasy does not have any limits and the world of a young man of the present time. The astronaut (Rudolf Jelínek) finds on the moon the famous dreamer Baron Münchhausen (Milos Kopecky), who takes him back to earth and a variety of exaggerated adventures. Amusing variation on the old stories, using live action against deliberately artificial backgrounds.


  • The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) - Movie Scene 1
  • The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) - Movie Scene 2
  • The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962) - Movie Scene 1

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction Is 13

It begins with cosmonaut Rudolf Jellinek landing on the moon. He follows footprints which lead him to the gentlemen of Jules Verne's expedition. They introduce him to their seniors on the site: Cyrano de Bergerac and the Baron Munchausen. Munchausen takes the Moon Man (for so he must be) on a trip to the Earth in what appears to be the 18th century. There they rescue the fair princess Jana Brejchová from the Sultan of Turkey and go on a series of imaginative adventures.

It must have been a dangerous movie to produce in Czechoslovakia in 1962. It celebrates imagination. It's not even imagination in the service of anything except itself. It's the imagination of a boy, just looking up from his loved library of Jules Verne and Alexandre Dumas and noticing girls for the first time. The set designs reinforce this. They look like Dore steel engravings, and the stock is toned, occasionally for what seems to be early two-strip Technicolor, with flashes of bright colors. Munchausen fights ten thousand bashi-bazouks; he flies about on cannonballs and dwells in a whale for months. He does whatever he pleases, as the fancy strikes him, and Jellinek follows along. Will he ever develop an imagination of his own?

It's clear to me that Terry Gilliam mined this movie extensive for his own MUNCHAUSEN; there are too many settings and incidents for it to be otherwise. He would have been 24 when it premiered in the US at Pacificon. I have no doubt that he saw it there and it left an impression in his mind at least as great as in my own.

Wonderfully whimsical but its narrative doesn't live up to its visuals.

'The Outrageous Baron Munchausen (1961)' almost feels like a series of short skits. There's a narrative flow but no real arcs or a through-line other than the eponymous character. It's not like each set-piece or location is disconnected, just that there isn't much connective tissue and actually very little in terms of an overarching story. We just follow the protagonist through his numerous, possibly imaginary, intertwined adventures. This makes for an experience that's often whimsical and wonderful but never really all that compelling beyond its surface level, despite its visual splendour. Of course, it's brought to life with a laudable verve and a cartoon-esque construction, with its numerous special effects combining with its old-fashioned colour-tinted cinematography to a strange but satisfying effect. The aesthetic really is charming, if somewhat out-dated (even, arguably, for its time). The theme of imagination, and the fact that our narrator is perhaps somewhat unreliable, isn't ever fully explored, though, so you just have to accept all the brilliantly conceived wacky weirdness that comes in both the scenery and the plot, something that's relatively easy to do but isn't actually all that fulfilling. This feeling is furthered since there aren't any real characters, at least not in the traditional 'development' sense, and that the playful sight gags - which are sometimes strangely reminiscient of silent films - can only carry you so far in terms of engagement. It's not a bad effort at all and it's certainly an entertaining time, but it's a lot easier to become invested in the visuals than in the story. 6/10

Viewed Through a Prism

I agree: Get this Stateside, somehow. I was lucky to view a German-marketed Region 2 DVD, opting to hear the Czech dialogue with English subtitles, some of which were embarrassingly fleeting. I may next opt to listen to it in German...

I learned of Zeman as a youth with the occasional broadcast of "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne" (in a word, fabulous). This retelling of select tales of Baron Munchausen appeared with the next highest recommendation from fellow users.

It's a retelling with great style and no small amount of innovation. It had to have influenced the animation of Terry Gilliam among many others. Principally stop-motion, occasionally mixed with cel animation and live action, and an at-times monochrome background likely changed by hand. Of course the style is dated but well suited for a dated story, and therein lies the film's timeless charm.

Familiarity with the tales may slow the viewer's perception of the film's pace. The sandwiched sequence is also familiar: The visit to the Sultan's palace; escape to the sea, getting swallowed by a whale and keeping company in its cavernous gut; and the comical resolution of a battle between warring European powers.

What's unfamiliar is an opening and ending with a cosmonaut who meets other fabled travelers to the Moon and eventually wins the hand of a lovely princess on whom the Baron also has designs. But I frankly need re-view and determine just how the princess dismounts from "Tony's" swimming horse while he goes straight to another island...

Genuine wit, some of it very dry and some mixed with slapstick, helps bridge if not punctuate the FX. ("Jules Verne" doesn't have as much.) An imaginative musical score that verges on the wacky. And acting that is refreshingly relaxed and subdued. This Baron is no blow-hard but so innately gallant that he just can't help but rely upon his most powerful weapon...his repeatedly save the day.

The film is perhaps not for the children unless one or both parents are around to help explain the historical context, the action, and its decidedly off-the-track pace. But it's a durable treat nonetheless.
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