Contrast bears up well enough with good shadow detail again to be seen in the theatre shots, the crowds coming across particularly well. I have seen better black levels but the moon shots are well handled and a lot better than some other premium releases I have seen. Brightness never blooms and the colours themselves are pretty much spot on if not verging on the red a little. Skin tones come across a little rosy and explosions seem a little more saturated than they should really be.
The print itself is free from dirt or blemishes but there is a certain amount of wobble and brightness fluctuations, again predominantly during the special effects sequences. At times this release is a splendid affair indeed and at others it is a little distracting. I hovered on at times giving this an eight then at other times reverting back to a seven. I really wanted the former but I'll err on the side of caution and revert regrettably back to a seven on this one.
It's predominantly frontal based, as would be expected from a film of this era, but the surrounds do kick in from time to time; battle scenes, Bertold's running and some very discreet effects whilst on the moon. Don't really be expecting your surrounds to get a great workout though. LFE again is used sparingly but to good effect; cannon fire, elephant stampedes, three headed beasts diving on the moon, Vulcan's workplace, all coming across well and defined.
The score by Michael Kamen widens the front stage particularly well and panning from various Foley effects come across well defined and well placed. It's a good enough audio track, again not something of demo material but something which is never distracting from the film itself.
- Commentary with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown.
Terry Gilliam is joined by long-term collaborator Charles McKeown for this most engaging commentary track. It's apparent that these two people have been friends for some time; their banter is jovial but also to the point. Whilst Gilliam takes centre stage McKeown adds his own slant on certain topics. Shooting locations are discussed, the disastrous production, set design. It's all the usual stuff but it's presented well. I loved the discussion about Valentino on the moon who has to be groped by The Moon King's headless body. The body was actually played by a woman and Valentino found the whole caper a little too much to handle.
- The Marvelous World of Baron Munchausen.
A pop up trivia track with snippets of information appearing throughout the film. These facts come in thick and fast so keeps your eyes open and some are only on screen for a short period of time. A lot of the information offered up had already been presented in say the directors commentary or the documentary but there are a few new facts you can glean from here.
- The Madness & Misadventures of Munchausen. - 01:12:00
This is a fascinating and altogether excellent documentary on the production hell which was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Gilliam is obviously interviewed as are most important members of cast and crew. All of course have their own opinion on what went wrong but it's the divergent opionion of Producer Thomas Schühly and the rest of the team which actually bring up a few belly laughs. Gilliam is reflective in so far that he can look back now and laugh Schühly however still comes across as being a little bitter about the whole thing.
- Storyboards. - 0:30:03
Three storyboards are presented entitled "The Baron Saves Sally", "A Voyage to the Moon" and "Charge at the Turkish Gates". The first was cut for financial reasons, the second because Gilliam never thought the writing worked and the last because it was debatable if the scenes could actually have been shot. The first and third though do look more than interesting and it would have been good to have seen both of these in the film itself.
- Deleted Scenes. - 0:03:36
4 deleted scenes are offered up. "The Rules of Warfare", "An extended Fish Sequence", "Mutiny on Stage" and an alternative opening The first has no sound and is pretty much irrelevant, Mutiny doesn't really add anything to the mix. The extended fish sequence is neither here nor there and the alternative opening isn't as good as the one included in the film. So Gilliam was right to remove these scenes.
The extras are well worth watching, except perhaps for the deleted scenes. The commentary is one of the better ones out there. Yes it has all the information you would expect from a good commentary track, but whereas some are dry and ponderous this is a joy to listen to as two old friends recount what for them and others at the time must have been a nightmare.
The jewel in the crown though is the extensive documentary, this you have to watch. It has all main members of cast and crew discussing their experiences on set whilst production was failing. The thoughts of Gilliam on the Italians, Idle on the movie industry and particularly Thomas Schühly on why everyone thought he should take the rap (and it looks to me as though he should have) are very amusing. At times it's a laugh out loud affair.
A disaster of a project from beginning to end but still a credit to Gilliam that he managed to get this finished and out of the door. Would it have been easier now with CGI, undoubtedly yes; would Gilliam have chosen that technology if it was available to him though, probably not. Its great to see this back on disc and for it's age it's not looking too bad at all.
It's an enjoyable romp from beginning to end and the same can be said about the disc itself. There's a good set of extras and whilst there is some repetition in there they are all worth a watch to get a true understanding of what went on during production of this all too great a venture.
Gilliam's a man with vision though, you'll either love that vision or hate it, there tends not to be any middle ground, but with this outing even some of this most ardent fans wondered what this was all about. Sit back though and enjoy the travels and adventures of Baron Munchausen, it's more than well worth it and if nothing else teaches us not to forget to have a sense of imagination and adventure.
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