Director Terry Gilliam’s 1988 cult film “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” is finally getting a 4K Criterion release. The fantasy film revolves around Baron Munchausen (John Neville) and his supposed travels and experiences with his band of misfits across 18th-century Europe. Among this gang of outcasts is Munchausen’s no-nonsense sidekick, a young girl by the name of Sally Salt. Salt was played by 9-year-old Sarah Polley.
Polley published an autobiography, “Run Towards the Danger Confrontations With a Body of Memory,” in March of 2022. In it, she detailed her experiences while filming “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.” She was put in what she describes as dangerous situations during production. “Terry led me down a route I was to run through – the set of a bombed-out city. I was told there would be explosives going off as I ran, but I wasn’t concerned,” Polley wrote. She was apparently told it would be “perfectly safe,” and was given cotton balls to plug her ears.
“Blasts of debris exploded on the ground around me, accompanied by deafening booms that made me feel as if I myself had exploded. A log I was to run under was partially on fire,” she described. “The gigantic blasts continued and shook everything around me. I ran, terrified, straight into the camera, tripping over the dolly tracks.” When the take was done, Gillian allegedly laughed, and said “What happened?”
As though 9-year-old had just taken a walk in the park and had no idea why she was frightened.
That’s when Polley realized that the scene had gone as planned, sans her fall. Not only was she terrified of the situation, but her tumble meant she would have to do it all over again until they got the scene right. The terrified young girl sought comfort from her father in between takes and begged him to intervene. But each time the crew reset, he would say with genuine remorse: “I’m afraid they have to do it again, love. I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”
Because of fans reaction to this information, Polley said “I’ve seen so many responses to that essay with people saying, “I don’t think I can enjoy this movie anymore, knowing what happened.” Really? Because that’s the only good thing that came out of that experience for me — a really great movie. So please, don’t throw away the movie.”
She refuses to view Gilliam in a villainous light. Simply a human who made some mistakes he has not taken accountability for. While that “sucks” she would like to sit down with him and talk about what happened.
She even doubled down on this statement when she retweeted Criterion’s announcement for the new release. Polly gave her “unconditional permission to still love this movie,” she tweeted. “The joy that comes from it is the joy I am able to carry with me as well as the terrible memories. Go nuts. Enjoy it. You have my blessing.”
Criterion’s “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” 4K releases January 3rd, 2023. You can pre-order it now.