Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

Motivation can come from the oddest places.

For those moments when, either literally or metaphorically, I need to run as fast I can, I can remember this:


That's Eric Idle as Berthold, the world's fastest man, from the first scene I ever saw of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. I saw that the scene soon before the film's barely-there U.S. release in spring 1989. Director/co-writer Terry Gilliam brought that clip to Late Night with David Letterman (telling the anecdote about the 1970s BBC executive who thought a severed leg in one Monty Python sketch was a giant penis), and I went from very interested in that film to very, very interested in that film.

Luckily I was able to see it. Columbia Pictures had planned to open it in 200 North American theaters initially and expand from there, but didn't even manage more than 130 theaters at the "peak" of the run. (When I interviewed the film's composer, Michael Kamen, in 1996, and talked about how limited the release was, he said, "That's okay, we know who saw it. We know who they are! We've got a little list.") It showed on only three screens in the entire Washington, D.C. area: one in D.C., one in suburban Maryland, and one in Northern Virginia -- conveniently, the multiplex I most often went to, the 12-screen (now closed, it turns out) in Merrifield.

Mom took me to see it -- I needed the ride, being a year away from having a driver's license -- and it's a film I "got" immediately, as opposed to Gilliam's previous work Brazil, which percolated in my head for years as I puzzled over it, kept revisiting it, and kept re-reading Jack Mathews's' The Battle of Brazil. I've lost track of how many times I've seen it since, though I can say I've seen it twice on a movie theater screen, the way it's best experienced. But I definitely have the extras-filled DVD to fulfill the occasional need to see it, in part or in full, again, in all its manic, overstuffed, lush and often LOUD glory.

"Berthold! Run!" *smiles*

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