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Baron Prásil (1961)

A dour astronaut called Tony lands on the moon, and finds it inhabited by the dreamers and moon-watchers of an earlier age, the lunar explorers of Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, Cyrano de Bergerac and, of course, the boastful Baron. Munchausen persuades the space-suited scientist to abandon his rocketship for a carriage pulled by flying horses and the pair return to Earth and go through the Baron's famous adventures escaping from the Turks, riding a cannonball, surviving in the belly of a monster while Tony unbends and admits the importance of whimsy. Coming to Karel Zeman's Munchausen after Terry Gilliam's is strangely bewildering, in that the distinctive blend of animated woodcuts, live action and paper cutouts pioneered by the Czech genius was obviously a major influence on Gilliam's old Monty Python animations. While the human players are required to be almost charmingly stiff to blend in with the mainly painted backdrops, Zeman's world is both more convincingly 18th Century and more convincingly alive than Gilliam's. For the real romantics.
KIM NEWMAN

First Published In: City Limits, issue unknown


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