The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Movie Poster Image

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen



Visual treat is too bawdy for young fantasy fans.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: February 21, 2008
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1989
  • Running Time: 127 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Epic efforts to reunite friends in order to defend a town under siege underpin the story, but just as much screen time given over to lust, selfishness, and avarice. The Turkish sultan and his army are depicted as cartoonishly evil.


Many scenes of battle, lots of explosions, beheadings, and torture, though they are surreal and strangely bloodless. A creepy, skeleton-faced Angel of Death tries to take the Baron on numerous occasions.


Brief female nudity (a bare backside and hazy shots of breasts), scenes of a harem, kissing, and heavy sexual innuendo, including two jealous husbands and a character who sounds like she's about to have an orgasm (though her feet are getting tickled instead).


"Hell" and "damnit."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A character is nearly beheaded over a good bottle of wine.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie, based on an 18th-century book of tall tales and directed by Monty Python alum Terry Gilliam, has some fairly edgy content. Though it's steeped heavily in fantasy, there are still graphic scenes of battle with many explosions, sporadic beheadings and near executions, scenes of a harem with some shots of naked women, and a creepy Angel of Death.

What's the story?

THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN starts in a fictional war-torn town during "The Age of Reason," and the screenplay delivers on its promise to examine the sometimes conflicting roles of fact and fantasy. As shells fall around them, the townspeople are distracted by a comedy troupe acting out the adventures of the big-nosed Baron, only to have the real Baron (John Neville) walk on stage and take up the narrative. Accompanied by little Sally Salt (a very young Sarah Polley) Baron Munchausen must reunite with his retinue, which includes Berthold (Monty Python colleague Eric Idle) in order to save the desperate town. But distractions and obstacles make the challenge extraordinarily difficult.

Is it any good?


The movie drew headlines when it was released in 1989 at almost twice its original budget, but director Terry Gilliam deserves credit for creating a visually fantastic film. While a few special effects fall flat, most are far ahead of their time, and small roles by Robin Williams and Uma Thurman (not to mention Sting) add to the whimsical quality of the film. It works well as a grown-up allegory of the nature of war and fear, and was nominated for a number of Academy Awards for costumes, makeup, and visual effects.

However, the movie is saddled with very slow pacing and scenes that seem too long by half. After somewhat confusing efforts to rescue the first two of Baron's four friends, it comes as a great relief that the remaining two can be found together, signaling that the plot can move forward again. It's a conundrum; the special effects are enticing, but the movie plods under its detail.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the nature of war as it's depicted here. Vulcan treasures his nuclear weapon because it can cause destruction while he's comfortably far away; how has that attitude changed modern warfare? How powerful a weapon is fear, as you see Horatio Jackson warning his citizens not to open the town gates? In what other movies and books can you find the Angel of Death?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 10, 1989
DVD release date:April 7, 2008
Cast:Eric Idle, John Neville, Uma Thurman
Director:Terry Gilliam
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and underdogs
Run time:127 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byAlphaZK93 January 19, 2011

This movie should not be PG. It should be R. at the very least PG13

I just watched this today for my film class and must say that the only things that irked me about this film was the sexual undertones in one scene and the naked woman. I'll start with how it goes chronologically: -------During the "moon kingdom" scene, there are references to sex quite frequently. Munchausen says that "the heads pursue intellectual things while the bodies have bodily....functions". One of the heads, as he's being carried off by his body says "I don't want to have flatulence or orgasms!", and the disembodied head of the wife of the aforementioned man makes faces and sounds that imply she's "having a good time". Munchausen tells the puzzled little girl with him that "Well, she's in bed with the king.....and.....he's.....uh....tickling her feet." This is a huge innuendo reference, but then it switches to a scene with the king actually tickling his wife's feet (although she is under a sheet as he does it). Next:--------------------In the volcano scene with Vulcan, his wife appears mid-scene. A huge clam comes up and as it unfolds, a ***totally naked woman*** appears. Not surprisingly, it's Venus, the god of love and all things horrendously sensual. Her hands cover her nipples and her hair covers her groin, but her breasts are clearly visible. After the cupids flew down about 3 seconds later, I looked away. About a minute later she's dressed in an "appealing" gown as Munchausen looks flabbergasted. During this, Venus says "hello" in a semi-seductive manner. That scene alone should have made this R or something. Stupid filmmakers. Now that's burned into my mind >:O Anything else? There is the harem scene in the beginning, but almost nothing is visible. Venus also tells Vulcan after Munchausen leaves "Did that excite you?" or something like that. ----------------As for violence, there are quite a few decapitations (but they aren't bloody and are actually supposed to be comical). Other than that stuff, the movie was fine. Oh, and by the way, the movie was actually pretty dumb. It had lots of funny scenes, but wow. Even one of my Monty Python loving friends who watched it with me said "What is this?!?!?" DON'T LET YOUR CHILDREN WATCH THIS! Dirty-minded teens will get a kick out of it though, especially Venus. I didn't. That says something about me, jtlyk. Honestly, I regret watching this movie. I don't say that often, either.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Parent Written byLyndaPoo June 10, 2014

This is an imaginative classic!!

Addressing the nudity that so many people have been commenting on: There is ONE shot of a rather robust woman's hiney in the harem scene and there is a moment where Uma Thurman is reenacting the classic painting, "Venus on the Halfshell". That is the extent of the nudity. If you are okay with your child going to a Renaissance fair, you'd be perfectly okay with the mild sexual content of this movie. In regards to the violence: It is a cartoon sort of violence - very much akin to ALL of Monty Python's stuff - it is silly violence. Violent, yes, but with tongue firmly planted in one's cheek. This is an absolute classic and it is fun and entertaining for the whole family. My 7 year old wanted me to rate it with "Infinity stars" because she enjoyed it so much. The movie is all about the power of the imagination - something to be celebrated. Enjoy. (Death is a bit creepy, I will admit, so if you have a child who is afraid of skeletons and such, you may want to prep them, but the lovely thing is a child in the movie is brave enough to stand up to Death multiple times - which is a bravery enhancer.)
Teen, 15 years old Written bychargnar March 11, 2012

Very Unusual

This is a really weird but good movie. Kids will love it. Very brief female nudity.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence


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