I've seen films made during wartime from Britain, America and France, so I was very keen to find one from Germany. I'm aware there were other countries involved in World War II, but these are the four we see in 'The Longest Day' (1962), which seems a fair criterion for The Penciltonian. 'Münchausen' is a lavish comedy made by order of Joseph Goebbels, to prove that Nazi Germany could rival anything Hollywood could produce.
The film tells the story of Baron Hieronymous von Münchausen, the famous teller of tall tales (or as he's presented here, man of bizarre adventures). He rides on a cannonball, wins the love of the Empress of Russia, and travels to the moon, where he learns that time works quite differently to how it does on Earth. It's a story that suits the colour and ambition on display here, and the inventive film-craft available in the country that produced 'Metropolis' (1927). It's a lavish tale, intended to rival 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Gone With the Wind' (both 1939) for splendour, so accordingly the movie is full of the most astounding hats, costumes and model shots.
|The Baron meets the fastest man in the world|
|Münchausen, in a fez, meets a eunuch in I-don't-know-what-that-hat-is-but-oh-my.|
It's an lively and watchable film, but doesn't quite live up to the movies it seeks to trump. It gets more interesting as it goes on, with a memorable trip to the moon where a babies grow on trees, and people's heads galavant without bodies, and fashions are just amazing. There, Münchausen's trusty servant ages to death over the course of a few days, and the film suddenly seems less ridiculous, and really rather sad. "The moon is a rather exhausting star," as the Baron notes. It this film, death (in males, at least) seems to be something that should be chosen. Dying suddenly in the heat of battle seems acceptable, but choosing mortality seems to be the ideal. Since the film was ordered into existence by the minister for propaganda, I wonder how close that was to the dominant philosophies of forties Germany.
|On the moon, a friendly disembodied head with amazing hair sits on a flower.|