Terry Gilliam's fourth solo directorial effort, from 1988. It's a paean to whimsy and the irrational, and how stories are more important than "what really happened" and rationality.It is the Age of Reason, and there's a war on. Somewhere Austria-y is at war with The Grand Turk. In a city on the border of this war, a rag-tag theatre company is staging a dramatic retelling of the life of famous Tall Tale teller Baron Munchausen. The play is interrupted by the real Baron, who describes what really happened to cause this war — namely, the Turks are after him. The Baron has come to the city to die, but is convinced by Sally Salt (the head of the theatre company's daughter) to instead save the city from the onslaught of The Grand Turk, as well as the forces of reason and mediocrity. Wackiness ensues.The film is something of a Mind Screw, as the viewer is never really sure if what's happening is "really happening" and whether or not that "really matters." Due to a Troubled Production, it was a notorious flop at the time. The combined losses for this and Ishtar are what caused Columbia Pictures to merge with TriStar. However, the film was a critical success and is still remembered as the final film in Gilliam's classic "Dreamer Trilogy," along with Time Bandits and Brazil
Big Damn Heroes: The Baron and his crew may be old and decrepit and far removed from their glory days; but when they stand alone against the Sultan's entire army at the end, they do not disappoint.
Big Little Man: The Baron and friends fall on a pit and see Vulcan, the God of Fire, towering above them. It's only when he pulls them out of the pit that they see that Vulcan is a head shorter than the Baron.
Big "WHAT?!": When Sally tells Vulcan (with no small amount of spite) that the Baron is kissing his wife.
Bilingual Bonus: While Robin Williams spouts off the occasional random phrase in Italian as the King of the Moon, he was listed as "Ray D. Tutto," which in Italian (re di tutto) means "King of everything".
Bizarre Instrument: The Sultan's "organ" is attached to a cage full of prisoners, and each key pokes a certain prisoner with a given pointy object to get the right tone of scream.
The Cameo: Sting shows up as the Heroic Soldier... who gets executed for being too good.
Exact Words: For his part of the wager, the Sultan said that the Baron could take as much of the Sultan's treasure as the strongest man could carry. Unfortunately, the Sultan did not anticipate that the Baron's strongman Albrecht would be able to carry out all of it all at once.
Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: "Gravitational Cognizance" variant. The Baron, Sally, and Berthold are climbing down a rope from the moon to the earth. They find that the rope is too short and will leave them far too high above the earth; but the Baron produces more rope and instructs Berthold to tie it to the end so they can continue climbing down. And where did the additional rope come from? The Baron cut it from the top of the rope on which they were already climbing. They don't start to fall until Sally thinks about that for a bit.
The Grim Reaper: The angel of death has it in for the Baron, trying many times to kill him. He succeeds. But the baron got better.
Hair-Trigger Temper: The Sultan does not take the news that his treasury has been completely emptied by his guests very well, beheading his treasurer on the spot and supposedly starting the whole war that acts as the main plot for the movie, in an attempt to kill Munchausen.
Meaningful Echo: "I have learned from experience that a modicum of snuff can be most efficacious." — Spoken by Henry Salt in his onstage portrayal of the Baron escaping from the belly of a whale; later spoken by the Baron in his actual escape from the belly of a whale.
Off with His Head!: The Sultan neatly cuts off his assistant's head with his scimitar - but it's Played for Laughs as not only is it bloodless, but the head lands in the lap of a concubine and winks at her.
Parental Bonus: The movie manages to get away with a PG rating in spite of some pretty saucy sexual innuendo in the scene with the King of the Moon, including the King calling the Queen a "puttana" (Italian for "whore") at one point. And the adults in the audience probably found Venus'introduction a lot more interesting than the kids.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Vulcan and Venus. It's a bit of a Deconstructed Trope, as, though Vulcan is obviously proud of his beautiful young wife, it's just as clear that they're making each other miserable.
Vulcan: Here you are, my love. Venus: Sigh. Another diamond.
War Elephants: The Grand Turk uses elephants to propel his War Machines. The Baron gets them to back off with the strategic use of mice.
Wheel o' Feet: Used when Berthold runs off to Austria for a bottle of wine.
Vulcan: Oh, this is our prototype. RX, uh, Intercontinental, radar-sneaky, multi-warheaded nuclear missile.
Baron Munchausen: Ah! What does it do?
Vulcan: Do? Kills the enemy. [snip] Well, you see, the advantage is you don't have to see one single one of them die. You just sit comfortably thousands of miles away from the battlefield and simply press the button.