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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen [Blu-ray]


(Terry Gilliam, 1989)







Coming to Blu-ay and 4K UHD by Criterion in December 2022:




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Columbia Pictures

Blu-ray: Sony Pictures



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:06:17.570

Disc Size: 40,923,015,988 bytes

Feature Size: 34,618,189,824 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.98 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 8th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video






Dolby TrueHD Audio English 2521 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2521 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -1dB)
Dolby TrueHD Audio French 2417 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2417 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -3dB / Dolby Surround



English SDH, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Korean, Thai, none



• Commentary by Terry Gilliam and a few members of the Cast

• 3-part Making of Featurette: The Madness and Misadventures of Munchausen 1:11:34 (SD)

• Deleted Scenes (4:3)

• Storyboard sequences (with optional commentary)

Blu-ray Exclusive – Marvelous World of Munchausen Enhanced Graphics and Trivia Track



Description: Director Terry Gilliam (Brazil) and an all-star cast including John Neville, Eric Idle, Oliver Reed and Uma Thurman deliver this tale of the enchanting adventures of Baron von Munchausen on his journey to save a town from defeat. Being swallowed by a giant sea-monster, a trip to the moon, a dance with Venus and an escape from the Grim Reaper are only some of the improbable adventures.



The Film:

The tall tales of the legendary 18th-century Baron Munchausen would seem perfect subject matter for Gilliam's fertile imagination; indeed, despite production problems, the film is an engaging and dottily fantastic spectacular. The Baron (Neville) and his superhuman colleagues are rather colourless creations, but the characters they encounter during their odyssey - mafioso-like King of the Moon (Williams), love-lorn Vulcan (Reed) - are vivid and funny. Still more bizarre is the look of the film: an island transformed into a monstrous fish, a balloon sewn from underwear sailing over a war-torn city, a ship rippling through a desert strewn with statuary. But this third part of Gilliam's trilogy, about 'the triumph of imagination over rationality' and lighter in tone than Brazil, hardly warrants serious analysis. More of its budget should have been spent on the script - there are jarring leaps in the narrative - but it's good, intelligent fun, and occasionally truly surprising.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE



Image:     NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.


This dual-layered Blu-ray looks quite strong. Detail translates with surprising effectiveness, depth and clarity. The 35mm source shows textured grain looking quite film-like. Noise is limited and colors appear vibrant and accurate. Now, I'll state my expectation were not especially high for this title but they were, certainly, exceeded. It's a film filled with amusing effects that come across seamlessly via HD. The DVD had compression issues and the image was not stellar via SD. It's a decent bitrate and this Blu-ray transfer represents the film extremely well for home theatre viewing - a definite, and highly noticeable, upgrade.


















Audio & Music: We are given a decent Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track that, although not extensively dynamic, does the job well enough to satisfy. I noted no flaws and the explosions and amusing music sounded adequate, not as much separation as one might expect. There is a French lossless DUB included and subtitles in a host of options. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide. 




Extras: Gilliam takes the lead in the commentary track which exports standard fare, but still nice to hear him discuss the film with some nostalgia. Extensive, and reminding me of the supplement information on Criterion's Brazil, is a 3-part Making of... featurette entitled The Madness and Misadventures of Munchausen. It runs almost 1 hour 15 minutes but is only offered in standard -definition. Lots of detail on battles with the studio and production foibles. Great stuff. Also are some poor quality deleted scenes in letterbox widescreen and some storyboard sequences (with optional commentary by Gilliam). Included as a Blu-ray Exclusive is the Marvelous World of Munchausen enhanced graphics and Trivia Track.



Bottom line: I saw this in the theatre and at least twice at home since then but never really warmed to the film, although, I guess, I wanted to. Cute enough but something was never 'right' for me. Until now. Perhaps I have matured (or digressed?). Or, it is quite possible that watching the grander visuals via Blu-ray, sold me to a higher level than previous. Of course the featurette in the supplements, helped improve my appreciation of the film and I had much more fun with it this time (as did my kids). So, that sounds like a recommendation.

Gary Tooze
April 5th, 2008

November 2010







Coming to Blu-ay and 4K UHD by Criterion in December 2022:




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