They head to the sultan’s palace where they both fall in love with a kidnapped maiden. Their romantic rescue leads to war with the Turks and a globe-trotting adventure across land and sea.
Fans of Gottfried August Burger’s humorous tales will recognize many of the baron’s most famous exploit, such as riding a cannonball over a battlefield and residing in the belly of a sea monster.
The baron considers himself a dashing, idolized mentor for the shy astronaut, but becomes a somewhat bitter rival after their mutual love interest shows greater affection for Joe. However, he comes to recognize Joe as something of a fellow fantasist who indulges in such crazy ideas as steam power, rocketry and science. Joe eventually mellows out, too, and immerses himself in the baron’s illogical ingenuity. The two ultimately return to the moon by exploding a castle, this time to claim it not for the scientists, generals and politicians, but for the dreamers, poets and lovers.
Director Karel Zeman is something of a forgotten master, a creative workhorse and special effects prodigy in the vein of Ray Harryhausen. Zeman started his career as a pioneer of animation and stop-motion techniques, throwing live-action actors and sets into the mix as he moved into feature filmmaking. Zeman's other works include "The Fabulous World of Jules Verne" (the only other one I've seen) and "Journey to the Beginning of Time."
The mixed-media presentation is particularly noteworthy, with Zeman designing sets to look like pen-and-ink drawing to better mesh with his illustrated embellishments. Many segments use animation, stop-motion, rear-project, tinting and matting, sometimes with color and black-and-white in the same image.
One memorable sequence portrays an unfathomably large army bearing down on the protagonists as a crimson cloud of liquid consuming the frame. Much of the distinctive flavor of “Baron Prasil” comes from similar rejections of literalism and realism.
Well, at least it means kids still have good reason to read. And while you parents are buying them books (you ARE buying them books and reading to them, RIGHT?), get them a copy of “Baron Prasil” from over at AllCluesNoSolutions. They’ll grow up to be better people and maybe they’ll stop nagging you to take them to the next 90-minute pokemon-of-the-moment commercial or brainless sequel to a spinoff of a remake of a film that was honestly pretty crappy back in 1932 and 1959.
Walrus Rating: 9.5