Andrew Yule's book focuses a good portion of the film's story on the financial woes and personalities that plauged this film from its very genesis. As I read the book I was stunned how anyone could let a production spiral so out of control, particularly given the option of shooting in a country that, on occasion, had problems with sucking up money for production (Italy in this case), or a place where even though things would be expensive, could create a film given a specific budget.
Given all the woes and ramifications of this production, it's a wonder anyone was kept at all. As I read the book I was convinced that it was all an act to drive away potential film makers to cut down on competition on content and jobs in the film industry. Then I thought maybe it was a giant sting to nab every small time mafioso in Italy, and that there was a whole law enforcement aspect going on behind-BEHIND the scenes that were weren't privy to.
But, in the end, it came down to an over excuberrant personality who was not adequate for the task at hand, even though the book correctly points out that without Tom Schuley, a man who can be described as certifiably insane (not a joke), the film might not have gotten made in the first place, or, if it did, then it certainly would not have been the vision Terry Gilliam eventually put up on screen for audiences to enjoy. He was the driving force to get the movie started, but unfortunately, due to his "stuff bills in the desk drawer" approach to book keeping, and inability to assume the producer's role after key personnel left and walked out on him, nearly drove the film into ruin.
Or so it appeared. My guess is that Schuley had more connections than anyone else was letting on, but that his role as a functional producer is probably more a manufacture than a matter of honest assessment.
For all that, for all the fighting that went on over budgets, scheduling, and other paper work, and work regarding the paper infrastructure, there was little emphasis on looking at the shooting style, little on the selection of art direction, though a strong emphasis on meshing personalities, and adorning the book with anecdotes regarding personalities, what they did, how outrageous it was, and ultimately what a circus had been generated of the movie's very production.
The book is more or less a look at the interpersonal struggle of director Terry Gilliam to shoot a film with a seemingly heartfelt desire to create something really magnificent for his children and other children, using some of the best talent in Europe, and to bring it in at a cut rate by shooting in a nation whose currency is prone to mercurial like behavior. Whatever promise a weak Lire and cheap but artistically sound and skilled Italian crew and sound stage facilities, the decision eventually blew up the cost of the film to twice its promised cost.
The book reveals the potential roles Marlon Brando and Sean Connery might have contributed to the film, but does little to give us insight to the larger concept of the film. How and why shots were selected, or the genesis of the story itself (the story is actually a conglomeration of a Russian folk tale; "The Fool of the World" and Raspe's German character). The book also tries to be somewhat historical by stating that Baron Munchausen fought against the Turks. The truth be told Baron Munchausen was a German mercenary who actually fought for the Turks, and was prone to telling tall tales, which is part of how he got his reputation, even to the point of a psychological disorder being named after him. The book focuses on "star power", which is disappointing, and how "star power" gears meshes (or ground) against the shooting schedule, cost over runs, and budgetary limitations.
If you're looking for a book on the making of the film, then there's not much else out there. If you're a film student who like the movie, and wondered how it was made, then all I can say is let this tome be a civil warning to your aspirations on how not to shoot a film. If someone promises you you can shoot a film cheaper in Mexico, Tunisia, Turkey, France, the Philippines, or Country-X, then demand to hire an accountant, and have him run some projected figures. ALSO, make sure you get some kind of lay of the land of what previous films were shot there, how they were shot, and why they were successes or failures.
Look, I love this film. Even for all of its cinematic flaws (the models in the ballroom dancing scene, the minis looking like miniatures, and some borderline blue-screen work), the film is good, but only because Terry Gilliam knows how to direct actors and knows how to get a shot (the whole shot with a horse on a rowboat with a little girl and explosions going off around it, not withstanding).
Buy it, read it, take notes on how NOT to shoot a major feature film.