Sunday, May 8, 2011

1,300 Post Special!: Munchausen (1943)

I have way too much free time on my hands!  Today is the day that we (read: me) over at Mondo Bizarro celebrate another milestone- 1,300 posts.  One has to wonder what I have yet to cover after so many posts.  Well, today's review is a movie that has been sitting in my Queue longer than most.  To be honest, I got it when I forgot to rearrange my Queue the night before.  I'll call it serendipity, however, as the movie is quite unique.  Way back in 1943, a man had a dream.  That man was Joseph Goebbels.  While he was by no means a nice, decent or caring individual, I do have him to thank for this movie being made.  As the Minister of Propaganda, the guy wanted Germany to excel in every aspect, even including the motion-picture industry.  As such, he pushed for the production of a lavish epic on par with the like of The Wizard of Oz.  That meant a grand scale, fancy sets and color film.  The film that they made- 1943's Munchausen.  It's a bizarre re-telling of the alleged activities of the famous Baron Munchausen, which are more than likely 99.99998% untrue.  They are, however, interesting to watch.  There is a lot to cover here, so I'm going to do a more simple thing- compare to the more well-known film.  That movie is Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen- a favorite of mine and one that I own on DVD.  Get out your ballon as we prepare to go on a trip with...
The Baron has the same sense of swagger here.  Unlike Gilliam's film, the movie is told in flashback in modern (as far as 68 years ago is) times.  In addition, this Baron says that he's telling the tales of his ancestor.
The Baron's black-faced butler is here.  He's not a major character there, nor does he dress in drag.
There's no little girl character here, a conceit added by Gilliam to serve as the voice of the viewer.  Apparently, Germany said 'Screw that!'
Munchausen's eagle-eyed companion is present for most of the film  He's still just as ridiculous, although he's not hard of hearing.
This Baron doesn't get along with the Turks either.  He also goes on the character's most famous ride...
With the help of his super-fast companion and some invisibility potion, the Baron escapes with the girl.
Tragedy strikes as the pair are targeted by some Catholics during the Inquisition.  Is it because he's immortal and sleeps every woman in sight?  Actually, that's a pretty good reason...hey look, a fast guy effect!
In a dark moment that doesn't appear in Gilliam's film, the Baron's super-fast friend is killed.  Not fast enough, I guess.
After embarassing the leader of the group (also his lady friend's brother), he escapes...without her.  At least you got to stab at him a lot.
The Baron takes solace in your ability to travel to the Moon via hot air balloon though.  Science doesn't work that way!
The Moon Men who can detach their heads are here too, although only the woman gets any focus.  In addition, the Baron's eagle-eyed companion dies of old age, since years go by every day.  No, I don't know why that makes sense and I don't think that they did either.
After centuries of life, the Baron gives up immortality to grow old with his lady friend.  The End.
The whimsical world of Germany!  The plot of this movie is just goofy and weird.  It's never quite sure whether it wants to be grand, silly or just odd.  Furthermore, there are some very dark and dreary elements in the film for no reason.  The fast guy being stabbed to death is one.  The fact that our hero doesn't get to rescue the girl is another one.  Considering that he broke out of a Turkish castle and crossed the Ocean with her, but getting out of that Monastery was just impossible!  Aside from the weird nature of that stuff, the movie is quite fun and silly.  The sets are bright and lavish, each really giving you a feel for the Era.  The Technicolor film is about as absurd and overdone as we've come to expect from the stuff.  Seriously, try to watch The Wizard of Oz without sunglasses on- I dare you!  Enjoy this film, even if it might affect your eyes adversely...
This is a special update, so pretend that nothing goes here.  See you in another 100 posts!

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