Tuesday, October 6, 2009

1943 - MUNCHAUSEN a forgotten version of the Baron's legendary life

A very expensive film about Baron Munchausen made in 1943 at UFA studios while Nazi Germany was going to hell in a hand basket. The production history behind this film is almost as interesting as the film. Written by Erich Kastner a Jewish writer working in the German film industry. The lead actor Hans Albers not much of a fan of the Third Reich, apparently had to do a careful dance around the Nazis to keep from being associated with them.

The film can easily stand up to the Terry Gilliam version of the Munchausen legend. It was an elaborate expensive color production with good 1940's special effects and an interesting soft look to the color photography. The production and costumes are on a large scale. Munchausen also has some remarkably risque stuff for a 1940's film.

Instead of just concentrating on the Baron's adventures and tall tales, the film attempts to put them in some sort of context to the human experience. The Baron goes from one wild adventure to another but not without some personal cost. The Baron's closest friends are affected by his adventures and not entirely for the best. Some even die because of their involvement with him. By the end of the film the Baron has become a pretty melancholy guy about his remarkable life.

For a large scale fantasy film, Munchausen has an unusual amount of attention devoted to it's character 's motivations. Terry Gilliam's film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was made 40 years later and had lots of wild scenes using all of the modern film tricks of 1988 but that movie came off pretty cold to the audience. This version is well worth watching.

 119 minutes.

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