The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Deliberate mistake: Baron Munchausen sends his courier, Berthold, on a one-hour errand to procure a bottle of the finest Tokay from the imperial wine cellars in Vienna. Berthold returns with the bottle within the hour and (in one continuous wide shot) hands the bottle to Baron Munchausen, who then hands it to the Sultan, who effortlessly plucks the cork from the bottle with his fingertips and pours a glass for himself. But there is no way the Sultan could simply pluck out the cork with his fingertips in one move; this extremely valuable bottle of wine is visibly sealed (in every shot) with a thick, air-tight red wax. This wax must first be cut and peeled away to access the deeply-embedded cork, and the cork must then be removed with a wine key (corkscrew). The action of properly opening the bottle would have required more time than the entire scene itself; so, to expedite the flow of the shot, director Terry Gilliam deliberately chose to forego a proper uncorking.

Charles Austin Miller

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: You're ignoring the fact that the entire scene is a story the real Munchausen is telling from memory. There are many fantastic elements that do not hold with reality, like him riding his horse out of the window, falling several stories, and landing safety, or Adolphus being able to see and shoot to the other side of the world. The bottle is simply an example of Munchausen not adhering to reality.

In any event, the Sultan's effortless uncorking of the bottle was a deliberate mistake intended to allow a whole series of actions to occur sequentially in the single wide shot in less than 5 seconds.

Charles Austin Miller

Yet, at the end, Sally addresses Baron Munchausen directly and asks him the question that the audience has been wondering throughout the whole movie: "It wasn't just a story, was it?" The Baron solemnly shakes his head, affirming that he was telling the truth all along, regardless of how fantastic it sounded. This point is often missed by the movie's critics.

Charles Austin Miller

The point I raised wasn't that the Baron's story wasn't true, but rather that he embellished it.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: When they're building the petticoat balloon, the camera slowly goes back. Look at the lower-right corner of the screen: there is a man wearing a stadium jacket. He's a crew member.

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Trivia: Early in the film, as the Salt and Son theatrical troupe performs their stage version of Munchausen's adventures, the Baron is eaten by a giant fish; two mermaids immediately enter stage-left and sing a mournful ditty modestly accompanied by the pit orchestra: "What will become of the Baron? Surely this time there is no escape!" To those with sharp ears, this ditty is the same tune as the soaring, symphonic Baron Munchausen theme music featured throughout the movie.

Charles Austin Miller

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Question: When Baron Munchausen and his cohorts clean out the Sultan's vault, the Sultan's horrified Treasurer crosses himself in the Catholic fashion. But, in this film, the Sultan is head of the Ottoman Empire (a Muslim empire), and the closest members of his court (such as his Treasurer) would surely be Muslim. So the treasurer's Christian gesture stands out as unlikely, at best. This seems to be a character error, but was it intended as a deliberate joke? If so, what was the joke?

Charles Austin Miller

Answer: The Baron is a teller of tall tales and massively exaggerated stories, so it is all from his limited point of view. The Ottomans did have Christian members of staff, especially doctors and such but the treasurer would never be a non-Muslim.

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