Director: Josef von Baky Cast: Hans Albers, Brigitte Horney, Wilhelm Bendow


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Josef von Baky's Münchhausen (1943), starring Hans Albers, has been restored by the F.W. Murnau Foundation with a running time of 111 minutes, still short of the original's 133 minutes, but also represents a lot more of the movie than has been seen in many decades. (At one point, it only existed in a version running somewhere around 80 minutes.) Kino International's American DVD release offers the movie in a gorgeous film-to-video transfer (full-screen, 1.33:1). This is one of the prettiest color films of the '40s, painstakingly restored on an almost frame-by-frame basis and is a delight to the eye. The film may also surprise many modern viewers as the product of the largest German film studio, Ufa, intended to celebrate its 25th anniversary, sponsored by the Hitler government for its lack of any overt political message. In point of fact, most of the movies made in Germany during the Hitler era were not ideological polemics, but lighthearted entertainment vehicles and even musicals. Münchhausen was perhaps the most elaborate of all of those, inspired by propaganda minister Josef Goebbels' admiration for (and jealousy of) Alexander Korda's Thief of Bagdad (1940) and utilizing a design and color range influenced by Gone With the Wind and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This disc restores the movie to its full glory, with blazing color and stunning clarity. The restoration allows one to appreciate the distinctly different color schemes utilized in each section of the movie, including the whites and blues for the Russian sequence, red and gold in the Turkish scenes, and a lunar landscape made up of myriad colors. Kino's edition offers brighter, purer blues and reds in the opening credits than a rival European region 2 disc from Eureka Video, issued in 2003; however, the latter's seeming weakness could also be the result of the necessary PAL-to-NTSC conversion on an American monitor. The movie comes with a dozen chapter breaks and a brace of enjoyable special features. The most important of these is an introductory lecture by Friedemann Beyer, the head of the Murnau foundation, who explains and illustrates the work of his organization in restoring Münchhausen and other movies, and the history and origins of Münchhausen. His account of banned author Erich Kastner's involvement in writing the screenplay is fascinating, as is his explanation (supported by stills) of the creation of the movie's most famous scene, the cannonball ride by the Baron. Alas, Beyer's account is a little less entertaining than that provided by R. Dixon Smith on the region 2 version, but the rest of the supplementary section far outstrips the European release in terms of extras. These include collections of still-frame art from the movie, an original trailer, and a collection of Gustav Dore images inspired by the Münchhausen story. Additionally, there is a German-made cartoon short, Die Abenteur des Baron Münchhausen, which is surprisingly similar to the work of Max Fleischer in its tone and character and excerpts from an Agfacolor German film version of Die Fledermaus. One would like to see that complete, as well as the other object of restoration excerpted here, Frauen Sind doch Bessere Diplomaten.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/20/2004
UPC: 0738329031428
Original Release: 1943
Rating: NR
Source: Kino Video
Time: 1:51:00
Sales rank: 38,168

Special Features

Making-of documentary with comments by the director of the F. W. Murnau Foundation; Original theatrical trailer; Animated short film: "Die Abenteuer des Baron Münchhausen - Eine Winterreise" (1944); Photo gallery; Examples of Agfacolor restoration: Frauen Sind Doch Bessere Diplomaten (1941); Excerpt from the Agfacolor film Die Fledermaus (1944); Pop-culture gallery of Münchhausen images; Optional English subtitles

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Hans Albers Baron Munchhausen
Brigitte Horney Catherine II the Great
Wilhelm Bendow The Man in the Moon
Michael Bohnen Prince Karl of Brunswick
Hans Brausewetter Frederick von Hartenfeld
Kaethe Haack Baroness Munchhausen
Hermann Speelmans Christian Kuchenreutter
Ferdinand Marian Count Cagliostro
Leo Slezak Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid
Gustav Waldau Caanova
Ilse Werner Princess Isabella d'Este

Technical Credits
Josef von Baky Director
Georg Haentzschel Score Composer
Emile Hasler Art Director
Konstantin Irmen-Tschet Special Effects
Erich Kaestner Screenwriter
Werner Krien Cinematographer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Opening Titles [13:18]
2. A Royal Welcome [8:49]
3. Cagliostro [4:08]
4. St. Petersburg [9:07]
5. In the Bedchamber [6:54]
6. The Magician's Laboratory [5:42]
7. The Cannoneer [18:36]
8. In the Harem [8:51]
9. Venice [11:56]
10. Duel [4:54]
11. A Trip to the Moon [11:43]
12. Eternal Youth [6:44]

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Münchhausen 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Hugo-Z-Hackenbush More than 1 year ago
Without even considering the circumstances of this films creation, it is stunning. When you consider that it was made in 1942 Nazi Germany, commissioned by Goebels, and yet some how avoids any hint of politics, then you can declare the film is also miraculous. Munchausen has fantastic sets, costumes, and a great score. Hans Alber as the title character is terrific, as are the supporting players. This truelly is a movie for all ages, with just some very tasteful, brief nudity in a Harem scene. Escapism at its finest.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Twenty years ago, a vhs edition of this film appeared in the U.S., but this new dvd is superior in every way!A pristine negative has been discovered since then, and some scenes look like they were filmed yesterday.And there are key scenes here that were missing from the previous release.This also has one of my favorite film scores.The animation and the clips from other early German color films[with recently deceased Nazi/Adenauer+beyond diva Marika Rokk]are jaw-droppingly clear.I think the trailer is the 1978 reissue one, not the original.Find out what nostalgia, German style is.Now how about 'Die Feuerzangenbowle' with Heinz Ruhmann'?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago