Monday, September 20, 2010

#45. Time Bandits (1981)

Directed By: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese

Tag line: "All the dreams you've ever had and not just the good ones"

Trivia:  49-year-old Ian Holm plays the 26-year-old Napoléon Bonaparte

Released in 1981, Time Bandits was my introduction to the wonderful world of Terry Gilliam, which, over the years. has been an intensely imaginative place of visit, a land where the impossible is commonplace, and nothing can be predicted. Time Bandits proved the perfect doorway into it. 

While lying in bed one evening, young Kevin (Craig Warnock) is startled by a gang of little people emerging from his bedroom closet. Employees of the Supreme Being, they've just stolen a valuable map from their boss, and are running for their lives. The map is a special one, revealing the exact locations of a series of time portals, which they plan to use to steal the riches of past civilizations. Led by Randall (David Rappaport), the group inadvertently pulls Kevin into their adventure, allowing the starstruck boy to meet some of history’s most influential people, including Napoleon (Ian Holm), King Agamemnon (Sean Connery), and Robin Hood (John Cleese). But what Kevin and his new friends don’t realize is someone else wants the map: the Supreme Being’s arch-enemy, Pure Evil (David Warner), who will do whatever is necessary to snatch it away from them. 

The exploration of centuries past, from Ancient Greece to Napoleonic Europe, is impressive enough, but it’s the worlds Gilliam creates from scratch; the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where pure evil resides, and the house boat belonging to the ogre (Peter Vaughan) and his wife (Katherine Helmond), that reveal his true creative genius. Even Gilliam’s “real” world is a bit surreal, or, at the very least, highly exaggerated. Around Kevin’s house, his parents (David Daker and Sheila Fearn) spend hours discussing appliances, all the while watching an insipid game show titled Your Money or Your Life, with a host (Jim Broadbent) who takes pleasure in inflicting pain. 

Time Bandits is more than a fun movie; it’s an exercise in originality.


mustdestroyalltraces said...

love this film! it's a fabulous piece of cinema that i can never quite pin down with a specific reason for my enjoying it so much, but still fabulous.

and if i'm not mistaken, the score was done (or at least contributed to) by the late george harrison. even more reason to enjoy it.

Dave Becker said...

@mustdestroyalltraces: I love how "out there" it all is, definitely something new for audiences in the 1980's. And you are correct: George Harrison did write the ending song especially for the film (and Harrison's production company, Handmade Films, produced Time Bandits as well).