• Country: United States
  • Initial release: September 19, 2013
  • Film Director: Ari Aster
  • Running Time: 17 Minutes
  • IMDB Grade: 6.9

In 2013, a talented filmmaker named Ari Aster released a short film titled Munchausen. This genre-bending and dialogue-free masterpiece showcased Aster’s early writing and directing style, foreshadowing his later success with films like Hereditary and Midsommar. In this article, we will dive deep into Munchausen, exploring its plot, influences, and the dark themes that Aster expertly weaves into the narrative.

Munchausen: A Unique and Dark Tale

Munchausen tells the story of a mother’s struggle to let go of her son as he prepares to leave for college. The film opens with a poignant montage reminiscent of Pixar’s Up, setting a bittersweet tone from the start. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Munchausen is not your typical heartwarming tale. Instead, it delves into the depths of the human psyche, exploring themes of control, obsession, and the lengths a mother will go to keep her son close.

Ari Aster’s Inspirations and Influences

Aster’s creative vision and unique storytelling style are evident in Munchausen, drawing inspiration from various sources. While some compare the film to Pixar’s Up, Aster himself has cited the influence of directors like Tim Burton. Like Burton, Aster creates a visually stunning world filled with surreal props and symbols that enhance the storytelling experience.

Surrealist Props and Symbolism in Munchausen

One of the striking aspects of Munchausen is its use of surrealist props. From a vial labeled “feel bad” to a superhero figure buried in the backyard, these props add an element of whimsy and intrigue to the narrative. They serve as symbols, representing the mother’s desperate attempts to control her son’s emotions and actions. Through these props, Aster effectively conveys the underlying darkness and complexity of the story.

Ari Aster’s Early Short Films

Before Munchausen, Ari Aster honed his craft through a series of short films. One notable example is “The Strange Thing About the Johnsons,” which explores taboo subject matter and elicits strong reactions from viewers. Aster’s early shorts showcased his willingness to tackle challenging themes and push the boundaries of traditional storytelling.

The Ending of Munchausen Explained

The ending of Munchausen is both heartbreaking and thought-provoking. As the film reaches its climax, the mother’s actions have dire consequences, leading to the tragic death of her son. The final scene, featuring the mother chasing after the coffin, serves as a visual representation of her inability to let go. It is a haunting and poignant conclusion that leaves viewers contemplating the weight of obsession and the devastating effects it can have.

Ari Aster’s Journey to Hollywood Success

Following the release of Munchausen, Ari Aster’s career skyrocketed. His feature debut, Hereditary, received critical acclaim for its chilling atmosphere and powerful performances. Aster continued to explore dark themes in his follow-up film, Midsommar, which divided audiences with its disturbing yet visually stunning portrayal of a cult. With each project, Aster solidified his reputation as a master of psychological horror.

The Legacy of Munchausen

While Munchausen may not have received widespread recognition during its festival run, it played a crucial role in establishing Ari Aster’s career. The film’s unique blend of genres and its exploration of complex familial relationships set the stage for Aster’s later works. Munchausen remains a testament to his early talent and foreshadows the brilliance that would come to define his filmmaking style.


Ari Aster’s Munchausen is a short film that defies categorization. With its striking visuals, dark themes, and powerful storytelling, it serves as a glimpse into the mind of a visionary filmmaker. From its surreal props to its heartbreaking ending, Munchausen showcases Aster’s ability to create emotionally resonant narratives that leave a lasting impact. As his career continues to flourish, it is clear that Aster’s early works, like Munchausen, laid the foundation for his success in the world of cinema.

1 Film Review

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  • One of the striking parts of “Munchausen” is its utilization of surrealist props. From a vial marked “feel terrible” to a superhuman figure covered in the patio, these props add a component of caprice and interest to the story. They act as images, addressing the mother’s frantic endeavors to get a grip on her child’s feelings and activities. Through these props, Aster actually conveys the fundamental dimness and intricacy of the story.