Baron Munchausen

[Updated: May 15,1999]

Sting makes a cameo appearance as a "heroic officer" in Terry Gilliamís hyperbolic fantasy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989). The spirit of the Baronís tall tales is derived from one of Frederick the Greatís actual cavalry officers, Karl Friedrich Hieronymous Munchausen (1720-97), and is translated into cinema with the same giddy inventiveness that marks such Gilliam projects as Time Bandits (1980), Brazil (1985), The Fisher King (1991) and Monty Python.

Baron Munchausen

Ostensibly fighting off an attack by the Turks, Baron Munchausen (John Neville) is aided by a personal army that compensates for its lack of manpower with extraordinary physical gifts: Berthold (Monty Pythonís Eric Idle) has supersonic speed, Albrecht (Winston Dennis) has preternatural strength, Adolphus (co-screenwriter Charles McKeown) has transcontinentally sharp eyesight, and Gustavus (Jack Purvis) has hurricane-force lungs. Still, young Sally Saltís (Sarah Polley) ability to refresh the aging Baronís youthful sense of wonder is perhaps the gangís most invaluable asset of all.

Indeed, the real war being fought in Baron Munchausen is the battle to defend the fires of imagination, as embodied by the swashbuckling Baron and his cadre, from the dampening cold logic of the "Age of Reason," as personified by a comically joyless bureaucrat named Horatio Jackson (Jonathan Pryce). It is Jackson who sentences our fair Sting to hang for his inability to still his beating heart, for heroism too impassioned and daring too illogical (unfortunately, the scene that shows Sting in the gallows was left on the cutting-room floor).

Columbia (UK)



126 minutes

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Produced by: Thomas Schuhly (Prominent Features, Laura Film)

Written by: Terry Gilliam

Charles McKeown


Baron Munchausen John Neville
Berthold/Desmond Eric Idle
Sally Salt Sarah Polley
Vulcan Oliver Reed
Adolphus/Rupert Charles McKeown
Albrecht/Bill Winston Dennis
Gustavus/Jeremy Jack Purvis
Queen Ariadne/Violet Valentina Cortese
Horatio Jackson Jonathan Pryce
Henry Salt Bill Paterson
Sultan Peter Jeffrey
Venus/Rose Uma Thurman
Daisy Alison Steadman
Executioner Mohamed Badrsalem
Dr. Death Jose Lifante
Heroic Officer Sting
King of the Moon Ray D. Tutto

(Robin Williams)


Cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno
Editing Peter Hollywood
Music Michael Kamen
Art Direction Teresa Barbasso
Production Design Dante Ferretti
Costume Design Gabriella Pescucci
Makeup Maggie Weston
Makeup Fabrizio Sforza
Special Effects Richard Conway
Special Effects Kent Houston

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