Time Bandits

Published August 26, 2009 by Molly

Picture 3

Oh hey, what’s this? Nothing much. Just a Terry Gilliam movie starring John Cleese, Sean Connery, and Shelley Duval and produced by George Harrison. Just a movie with a character named “Og” and a plotline that involves dwarves, Napoleon, time travel, and horses that shoot rockets out of their eyes.

No surprise that Criterion is behind a thorough edition of Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits that features a perfect transfer plus commentary by Gilliam, co-writer Michael Palin, John Cleese and others.

The premise of Time Bandits sounds similar to a story we all know and love. A young boy–intrepid, curious, unruly–struggles to contend with his active imagination in the face of parents that just don’t understand. He travels to strange lands, encounters monsters of a sort, and ends up all right in the end.

Like Maurice Sendak, Gilliam has a vision of childhood that feels truthful not despite but because of its outlandish qualities, its darkness and its eye for the absurd. The young hero of the film, Kevin, is as likable as Max and equally recognizable as a version of our former selves.

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6 comments so far

  1. Friendly Milk says:

    Good call. I utterly love this movie. I discovered it aged about 10 and it really spoke to my young imagination. Also, it has the most vibrant portrayal of Ancient Greece captured on. No white columns to be scene (as it was in antiquity). Sean Connery has never been more likeable.

  2. Naomi says:

    One of my favorite movies of all time!

  3. rocko says:

    oh god, Time Bandits was such an amazing movie with a crazy visual scope, from a period look of Napoleon’s war zone to the abstract zone of the cages hanging on the chains, Gilliam just has an eye for great visuals. This movie still ranks behind my favorite, Brazil, but the ending is just as great. Such a shocker that ending, one that has stuck with me for years.

  4. danarox says:

    One of the first movies I’ve ever experienced. Truly one of the more honest films I first saw, along with the Dark Crystal, Neverending Story, Watership Down, and the Last Unicorn that did not pander to adults view of children as simpletons amused by bright colors only.
    I love to re-watch it for the actors I now know and love well, and then re-watching it as a Terry Gilliam fan, and then as a lucid dreamer, a surrealist, (and on and on…I think I’ll re-watch it tonight!).

  5. Jimmie Myers says:

    As I recall, it doesn’t quite “end up all right in the end”. Didn’t Kevin’s parents essentially explode at the end?

    I loved this movie as a child, but was always extremely confused by the ending. Now, more familiar with Terry Gilliam’s body of work, it feels more logical somehow.

    Thanks for the memory jog! Just added this to my queue.

  6. Dave Schoene says:

    I loved this movie as a kid. My uncle gave me a copy, I remember it making total sense at the time. Later in college when the topic of movies came up if others favorites were not worth talking about I tell them Time Bandits was favorite movie. “What’s Time Bandits?” Oh its about story about Gods helpers in creation who also happen to be little people, go a-wall through time to steal history’s riches. The looks were always so great.