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Time Bandits
dir. Terry Gilliam / UK 1981 / 116’
subtitles: Polish


Craig Warnock, Sean Connery, John Cleese, Ian Holm, Katherine Helmond, Ralph Richardson, Shelley Duvall, Michael Palin, Peter Vaughan, David Warner, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon


Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films 1982 – President’s Award

Film description

This fantastically dark children’s film grew out of a frustrating period for the director. Gilliam had been attempting unsuccessfully to film Brazil for a long time. Stumped, he decided to take time out and turn to family cinema. The titular Bandits are a band of dwarves who worked for the Supreme Being during the creation of the world. Since they did not get the recognition they wanted, the Bandits have since stolen the Supreme Being’s map of space and time, which allows them to travel through history by locating time holes left in fabric of reality. The Bandits, however, are far from using their travelling abilities to save humanity or achieve any other lofty ideals – they are involved in the much more lucrative activity of stealing treasures across time-periods. The story begins when the Bandits accidentally arrive in a suburban bedroom belonging to Kevin, an inquisitive young boy whose indifferent parents are more interested in TV game shows than in their son’s interests. Kevin follows the Bandits through the time hole in his room and joins their adventure. Along the way, they meet Napoleon (played by Ian Holm), travel to Sherwood Forest where they momentarily join Robin Hood (who, acted by John Cleese, has decidedly British Royal Family airs). They also see Agamemnon’s Court (where a very regal Sean Connery portrays the mythical Greek king) and sail on board the Titanic, before finally confronting Evil incarnate in the Time of Legends. Shot from a child’s perspective, but abounding in black humour and sudden twists, the film is another visual triumph by Gilliam.

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