I Watched a Film!

An exquisite piece of artwork, from revered Czech director Karel Zeman, fashioned of both live action and animation involving the titular character and his “Moonman” rival acquaintance, Tony, an absolutely ridiculous name, according to the baron. Zeman inspired everyone from Jan Svankmajer to Terry Gilliam, and I’m only just learning about him-isn’t that crazy? Remove half of film history and there are still treasures to be found and our hearts warmed.

The sweet hilarity of the film is, of course, in it’s totally fantastic episodes of “tall tales” brought to life here in most satisfying color, beauty and wonderfully rendered naivete. There are flying horses, sword fights, magnificent sea-monsters, and the beauty Jana Brejchova as the “kidnapped” princess, as lovely and unforgettable as Winslet in Titanic. The Baron advises his Moonman that a knight never plans anything that doesn’t involve swords, ropes, and horses, and that a kidnapping (of the lovely princess) is not violence, but art! In another wonderful sequence the Baron’s militaristic friend who fires his cannons doesn’t see his enemy. The Baron assists by jumping on a cannonball and riding it out over the enemy lands to locate the soldiers. He makes notes on paper and with plume, and then hops a returning cannonball, child’s play, to report back. The fact that the film starts with our astronaut, Tony locating the original moon-landing from 1902’s A Trip To the Moon, is pure whimsy and delight. The elderly explorers are still there, and attempt to have a drink with Tony.

I’ve never been exposed to many of the stories of Munchausen, and only barely recall the Gilliam film but this gloriously rendered amusement should be better known, and probably only isn’t because it’s subtitled.

This is running Free on prime in USA. Why doesn’t someone make a more adult version of this kind of fantasy? It’s such a treat.

5 thoughts on “The Fabulous Baron Munchausen (1962)

    1. I never realized this existed, and I am wholly ignorant of Karel Zeman. Though, I did manage to come across Jan Svankmajor animation having gotten hooked on old Animation festivals that they used to run at Providence’s Avon Theater when I was a kid. Also saw Wallace and Grommit there for the first time. But I hadn’t connected with any other of the Czech / Prague artists.


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