- Year of Film
- Terry Gilliam
- John Neville, Sarah Polley, Eric Idle, Jonathan Pryce, Oliver Reed, Uma Thurman, Robin Williams, Peter Jeffrey
- Origin of Film
- UK | West Germany
- Type of Poster
- One sheet
- Style of Poster
- Origin of Poster
- Year of Poster
- Vic Fair
- Size (inches)
- 27 1/16" x 41"
- SS or DS
- NSS #
- Remarkable. Unbelievable. Impossible. And true.
This is the international one sheet for the release of the 1988 fantasy comedy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, which was co-written and directed by Terry Gilliam. Based on the tall tales that the real-life 18th century German Baron Münchhausen allegedly told about his wartime dealings with the Ottoman Empire, the film is a riotous exploration of the power of storytelling and imagination. Gilliam plucked the veteran actor John Neville, in his early sixties at the time, from near obscurity to play the titular Baron who teams up with a young girl and a whole host of bizarre characters to save an unnamed European city from defeat by a besieging Turkish army.
Actress (and recently director) Sarah Polley appears in her first screen role as Sally Salt, a member of a theatre troupe that has been touring the country showing farcical reconstructions of Munchausen’s supposed adventures. At one show the real Baron arrives into the theatre just as a Turkish army appears outside the city walls and begins to attack. What follows is a madcap mix of improbable, recollected tales and daring adventures as the Baron takes Sally on a journey to gather together his old gang of associates, including the fastest runner in the world (Eric Idle), a giant strongman and a dwarf able to expel powerful gusts of wind that can knock tens of people over. Their journey takes them to the moon where they encounter the eccentric King of the Moon (a memorable cameo from Robin Williams), into the crater of an active volcano where they meet the Roman God Vulcan (Oliver Reed) and his wife Venus (one of Uma Thurman‘s earliest film roles) and inside the belly of a giant sea monster, before they head back to the besieged city to rescue it from certain defeat.
Featuring a number of notable actors, often in dual roles that reflect the film’s clever play on the idea of fantasy and reality, the story is never anything less than entertaining and the action on screen completely belies the ridiculous behind the scenes travails that Gilliam went through to bring his vision to life. The film suffered a number of setbacks during its production, including a budget that more than doubled and a change of management at the studio that almost saw the film cancelled entirely (production was shut down for several weeks). The film was eventually practically dumped into cinemas in the States with a limited release that saw a corresponding lack of box office takings, and this was despite strong critical reception. It faired better in Europe but was unable to recoup its reported budget of over $45 million.
This poster’s creation saw the pairing of two not inconsiderable talents in the shape of the British designer and artist Vic Fair and the prolific designer/artist Renato Casaro. More details of each of them can be found in the two exclusive interviews I carried out with each for the website: Vic Fair interview and Renato Casaro interview.
In his interview Vic talks about working with Gilliam (and the interview also features a concept illustration by the artist):
What was it like working with Terry Gilliam?
‘It could be quite frustrating sometimes as he’d get me to do loads of work and then at the very last minute he’d change his mind and ask someone else to do it. He had this team of artists and designers always on call and often they’d end up taking over, so it often felt like a waste of time.
He was really good at making you feel like you’d solved all his marketing problems though. He used to say things like ‘That’s it! You’ve done it! It’s perfect!’ and he’d kick the bloke off the chair sitting next to him and usher you to take his place at the table. You’d have all these other chaps on his team looking enviously at you, but you knew that it wasn’t over and that there’d be more designs to come. A couple of days later you’d discover that he’d changed his mind and wanted to see some more ideas for the design.’
In his interview, Renato recalls working with Vic on this poster:
‘One other thing that’s important to say is that I was generally not beholden to an art director and usually I was the designer and the artist on every film poster I worked on. One exception was a pleasant collaboration that I had with the British designer Vic Fair for a poster for The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. He had designed a one sheet intended for international use and I worked on the painting for it. I would always make sure to watch the film first, or if that wasn’t possible receive stills from the production, or in some cases even visit the set whilst they were filming, as I mentioned. But I was never working to someone else’s design direction – at Studio Casaro I always made sure I had complete creative control on movie jobs.’