The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

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Released 15-Nov-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-1.33:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 121:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (66:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terry Gilliam
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring John Neville
Eric Idle
Sarah Polley
Oliver Reed
Uma Thurman
Jonathan Pryce
Valentina Cortese
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $34.95 Music Michael Kamen


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Terry Gilliam's uniquely imaginative work sticks out a country mile, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen is certainly no exception.

    Baron Munchausen (John Neville) is an outlandishly extravagant character in deed, and yet charming in character. His fantastically unbelievable exploits include travelling to all manner of strange and mystical places and having to contend with the exotic inhabitants. His loyal band of followers include a man who runs like the wind, played by Eric Idle, a long friend of Terry Gilliam from the Monty Python years; a man with perfect vision; another with incredible strength; and yet another with superhuman hearing. This unlikely team meets the goddess Venus, played by a young Uma Thurman and also fly to the moon to be confronted by Robin Williams in one of his less memorable roles.

    The sets which make up this make-believe world are incredible and richly detailed, and a great deal of effort has been put into this movie. The main problem however is that the movie just goes on for too long. At a shade over two hours it tended to drag on. I belive a trim of half-an-hour would have greatly benefited the flow of the movie and made it much more enjoyable. However, there is much to enjoy, and those who are young or young at heart should be well catered for.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    On the whole, this transfer is remarkably good, especially given that the movie is onwards of 11 years old.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. Interestingly, the movie appears to have been theatrically released with a ratio of only 1.66:1, which means that we are losing a slight bit of the top and bottom of the frame, although this had no noticeable effect on the presentation.

    The picture is a typical Columbia Tristar affair, and is very film-like in appearance. Most of the movie, with some exceptions, is richly detailed and a treat to behold. Shadow detail is very good. There was little low-level noise in the presentation. The only exceptions occur with many of the effects shots, where low-level noise becomes apparent. Many effects scenes looked quite poor by today's standards, and suffered as a result. These scenes can be forgiven given the age of the movie.

    The colours are nicely presented, and have a very natural appearance, however a stronger palette would not have gone amiss given the nature of the world in which this movie inhabits. What colour there is, though, is nicely balanced and well controlled.

    There were no MPEG artefacts of any kind during this movie.

    I was surprised to notice an almost complete lack of film artefacts, which gave the presentation a very contemporary feel.

    This disc is an RSDL disc with the layer change placed between chapters 14 and 15, at 66:00. It is placed nicely between scenes, and is therefore not disruptive to the flow of the movie at all. The packaging of this disc erroneously describes this disc as being single-layered.
(Ed: Addendum 25th November 1999: Columbia Tristar have advised that this error will be corrected on future printings of the slick for this DVD.)

Audio

    The audio transfer is unremarkable, and expected of a film of this time. The character of the sound tended to be a bit thin, with little bass to fill it out.

    There are four audio tracks on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, German Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono. Interestingly, the packaging states that only the German soundtrack is surround encoded. This is untrue. All apart from the Spanish were identically surround encoded, the latter being mono only. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, apart from the all-too-common screams of the young girl, which were at times quite shrill.

    There were no problems at all with audio sync during the movie.

    The musical score by Michael Kamen is wonderful and complements the onscreen action perfectly. It does a great deal to convey the sense of fantasy and adventure, being at times whimsical and other times quite powerful, but never taking itself too seriously.

    The audio presentation is very frontal, with little use of the surrounds. Music does make its way into the surround channel at times, as do some explosions and effects during loud passages, but on the whole there could have been much more use of the surrounds.

    The subwoofer got used only a handful of times during the entire movie.

Extras

    The extra features list of this DVD is rather spartan.

Menu

    The static menu design is clear, colourful and nicely themed around the movie. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a rather ordinary trailer, presented in full-screen 1.33:1. It is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

Filmographies - Cast & Crew

    These consist of the principal characters and Terry Gilliam, and are nicely detailed.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    Both versions appear to be identical. The R4 version would therefore be the preferred choice given the superiority of the PAL system.

Summary

    If you are looking to lose yourself in another world, you will no doubt enjoy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The story is unique and has a wonderfully innocent quality. The only major complaint is that at times it did tend to drag on a bit too long.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio is very ordinary.

    No extras to speak of, which is always a shame.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Paul Cordingley (bio)
Saturday, November 20, 1999
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A-350A, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player.
AmplificationSony STR DE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
SpeakersCentre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive

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