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Review - Time Bandits (1981)

Posted by nszyngie on 2004-02-19 09:41:51
8 forum posts
Okay, so at the request of the almighty webmaster, I will try and piece a review together for Time Bandits.

This is essentially a children's movie (think The Neverending Story) about a haphazard adventure of a normal english boy who crosses paths with a band of time-travelling dwarfs. Running from their employer, the Supreme Being, the band of misfits stumble across Kevin's bedroom closet, which is a tear in the fabric of time. Using a map that identifies all of the different tears in the fabric of time, the bandits go around looting valuables from Napolean, Robin Hood, the Greek King Agamemnon and others.

This has the look of a big budget film, for sure, especially given that it was made in 1981. However, you have to respect that it was all done (including paying off Sean Connery who play Agamemnon) on 5 million pounds. It all looks very nice, none of that cheesy stuff where you laugh cause you know its fake.

Other notable actors include Robin Hood played by John Cleese and a reoccuring Michael Palin, who plays two characters with very similar characteristics over time. Both are of Monty Python fame. Shelly Duval plays Palin's love interest - it took me a while, but I finally placed her as Jack Nicholson's wife in The Shining.

The 'Time Bandits' have stolen the map outlining all of the tears in the fabric of time and try to use it to rob and steal vast amounts of wealth from notable persons in history. Eventually complete greed takes hold, and changes the course of their journey.

Classic Gilliam directing in this one. Nice low angle shots making subjects seem terribly imposing, and the use of unique characters, notable the threat to Greece that Agamemnon defeats, and henchmen of the Ultimate Evil. You can see he must have been thinking about making Brazil when filming this, even Mona from Who's the Boss is in it - she also makes an appearance in Brazil.

The weakest part of the film was the script - the dialogue is dry at most parts, and the story kind of feels improvised near the end. But the journey itself is memorable, and images, characters and ideas are truly unique.

Coupled with the fact that this film was produced by ex-Beatle George Harrison's production company, Handmade Films, on a budget of 5 million pounds, make this a timeless film that the child in all of us would truly enjoy.

7/10
  8 forum posts