Shout For Your City!

shout for your city!

Within the walls of a city under bombardment by an invading Turkish army, citizens struggle to survive while the ruling parties strive to keep order (or at least a very good facsimile of such). Among the extraordinary details of the backdrop to THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN are the hastily scribbled proclamations and orders, seemingly written under the duress of a city under siege, plastered over the walls and monuments, or covering the desks of harried clerks. Barely discernible to the audience, they nonetheless show a formidable aplomb, or at least a hopeful patina of dignity ("Cannibalism is strictly forbidden"), and an attempt to retain the trappings of an efficient and judicious government -- not unlike the overbearingly (in)efficient bureaucracy of BRAZIL.

Below are transcriptions of some of the hastily scribbled, dictionary-averse orders, with only some of the more egregious mis-spellings corrected.

Movement order 77742906

Copy to T.R.O. Horatio Jackson

The Movement Studies Unit has concluded that the line between those things which are to be moved and those things which are under no circumstances to be moved is becoming dangerously blurred. And we urge the Central Committee to remind citizens not to move the following:

  1. Unidentified bits of metal sticking out of the ground
  2. Other people's children
  3. Wheels belonging to military


Movement Officer

Intelligence Unit

"Shout For Your City"

The Intelligence Unit (Innovation Section) wishes to interview all citizens possessed of loud voices to begin a period of all-night shoutings at the enemy with the intention of keeping them awake and continuing the process of Turkish demoralization.

Report to the Intelligence Director if you think you may be fit for this work.


(Inteligence Unit)

Requistions order 774300201

Following an unfortunate occurrance on 5th October the following items must be handed in to Requisitions offices forthwith. Failure to comply with this order will be punished with the utmost severity.

  1. Small tarnished spoons
  2. Popery (including all dried flowers)
  3. Tweed breeches
  4. Egg coddler (ceramic)
  5. Leather bound copy of the life of Mr. Marco Polo
  6. Hair restorer
  7. All representations of royalty
  8. Vegetable dye
  9. Farm machinery
  10. Polished bric-a-brac
  11. Stuffed mammals

Issued by the Requisitions Authority on this day the 18th day of the 29th month of the new calendar.


(Requisitions officer)

District 106


Any citizen found in possession of more than one quart of water will be prosecuted forthwith.

This one has to be [sic] :


For the information of the PUBLICK the directions iffued for the guidance of the Militia employed in difseminating the “TAKE COVER” and “ALL CLEAR” meffages are here reproduced.

The Militia takes the opportunity of reminding the Publick that if the “TAKE COVER” warning is given, the need for remaining under cover continues until the founding of bugles conveys the “ALL CLEAR” meffage.

In the event of more than a couple of hours pafsing without incident after the iffue of the “TAKE COVER” warning, the warning will, if necefsary, be repeated.

“TAKE COVER” warning:

MILITIA on foot circulating throughout the ftreets bearing “TAKE COVER” placards are enjoined to call out loudly and frequently the words “TAKE COVER” alternating this by blowing vigorously and repeatedly on whiftles.

“ALL CLEAR” notice:

TO OBVIATE the poffibility of the “TAKE COVER” warning being miftaken for the “ALL CLEAR” the Militia on foot taking round the “ALL CLEAR” placards may not on any account found their whiftles. Bugles have been iffued to all Divifions in order that the “ALL CLEAR” notice may be given by bugle call.

When a member of the Militia is available to take round the “ALL CLEAR” placard but there is no bugle, he is enjoined to call out repeatedly the words “ALL CLEAR” and to refrain from founding his whiftle.

People's Committee Order 25.

J. Horffall, Printer and Stationer.

For Related Articles on THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN by David Morgan:

  • "MUNCHAUSEN At The Starting Gate" — September 1987 interview with Gilliam, before the madness set in

  • "The Mad Adventures Of Terry Gilliam" — On Location at Cinecitta (Sight & Sound Magazine, Autumn 1988)

  • The "Real" Baron — What do you do if you embezzle from royalty and flee the country? You write a book about a Baron who tells bigger lies than you do

  • Script Development — Analysis of Gilliam and McKeown's screenplay

  • Interview With Eric Idle — The fellow Python talks on the set about surviving a Gilliam shoot

  • Composer Michael Kamen on MUNCHAUSEN (1998)

  • Publicity — How do you sell a film about a character no one in the States had ever heard of?

  • Market Research — Audiences at test screenings gave their verdict: What happened to Sting?

  • Litigation — Losing millions of dollars at the box office is no guard against people suing

  • Essay — Cover notes for the Criterion Collection's 1992 special edition laserdisc

    copyright 1992, 2009 by David Morgan
    All rights reserved.