Karel Zeman was a fantastic and amazing Czech filmmaker and animator whose work is wondrous to see. Zeman used live action and combined it with animated both hand drawn and stop motion to create amazing fantasy worlds.
Today’s Sunday Matinee is Karel Zeman’s 1961 The Fabulous Baron Munchausen. Loosely based on the Munchausen stories, this incredible fantasy follows the adventures of an astronaut who lands on the moon only to discover the crew from Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, Cyrano de Bergerac, Baron Munchausen and others already on the moon. The group assumes that the astronaut is a moon man and the Baron decides to take him to Earth to show him what Earth is like.
First place to stop is a Turkish Sultan’s palace where the astronaut Tonik falls in love with a princess that the Sultan has held prisoner. Tonik, the Baron and the princess escape and are chased by the Sultan’s men where they end in sea battles, swallowed by giant fish and end up on many adventures.
The movie looks amazing. The animation and the live action create a surreal world that fits the fantastical tale. The movie and the work of Karel Zeman influenced such filmmakers as Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. Zeman made 10 full length feature films during his career and many short films. Each film was a work of art featuring fantastic animation. Nobody makes movies like this anymore.