In an unnamed war-torn European city in “The Age of Reason”, amid explosions and gunfire from a large Turkish army outside the city gates, a fanciful touring stage production of Baron Munchausen’s life and adventures is taking place. In a theatre box, the mayor, “The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson,” reinforces the city’s commitment to reason by ordering the execution of a soldier who had just accomplished a near-superhuman feat of bravery, claiming that his bravery is demoralizing to other soldiers and citizens.
Not far into the play, an elderly man claiming to be the real Baron interrupts the show, protesting its many inaccuracies. Over the complaints of the audience, the theatre company and Jackson, the “real” Baron gains the house’s attention and narrates through flashback an account of one of his adventures, of a life-or-death wager with the Grand Turk, where the younger Baron’s life is saved only by his amazing luck plus the assistance of his remarkable associates: Berthold, the world’s fastest runner; Adolphus, a rifleman with superhuman eyesight; Gustavus, who possesses extraordinary hearing, and sufficient lung power to knock down an army by exhaling; and the fantastically strong Albrecht.
When gunfire disrupts the elderly Baron’s story, Jackson cancels the acting troupe’s contract because of the Baron. The Baron wanders backstage, where the Angel of Death tries to take his life, but Sally Salt, the young daughter of the theater company’s leader, saves him and persuades him to remain living. Sally races to the wall yelling for the Turkish army to go away, and the Baron accidentally fires himself through the sky using a mortar and returns riding a cannonball, narrowly escaping the Angel of Death once again. Insisting that he alone can save the city, the Baron escapes over the city’s walls in a hot air balloon constructed of women’s underwear, accompanied by Sally as a stowaway.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is a 1988 British adventure fantasy comedy film co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam, starring John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, and Uma Thurman. The film is based on the tall tales about the 18th-century German nobleman Baron Munchausen and his wartime exploits against the Ottoman Empire.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989)
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Starring: John Neville, Eric Idle, Sarah Polley, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Jonathan Pryce, Winston Dennis, Bill Paterson, Alison Steadman
Screenplay by: Terry Gilliam, Charles McKeown
Production Design by: Dante Ferretti
Cinematography by: Giuseppe Rotunno
Film Editing by: Peter Hollywood
Costume Design by: Gabriella Pescucci
Set Decoration by: Francesca Lo Schiavo
Art Direction by: Maria-Teresa Barbasso, Giorgio Giovannini, Nazzareno Piana, Massimo Razzi
Music by: Michael Kamen
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: March 10, 1989