Time Bandits (1981)

Terry Gilliam directs Craig Warnock, David Rappaport and David Warner in this time travel fantasy where a dressing gown bedecked child joins a ragtag bunch of era-hopping thieves.

Proper fantasy cinema, warts and all! I wasn’t allowed to watch Time Bandits as a kid. My dad must have seen the opening chapter where knights, dwarves and disembodied glowing ghoul heads tore through a little boy’s bedroom and sensibly thought the inevitable nightmares wouldn’t be worth it. I really enjoy it now as an adult… the squawking, heckling leads not quite so much. These dwarves are really “little people-ing” it up. The short person’s equivalent of blackface. They are gratingly loud, babyish and unfettered. I have no issue watching the rough and tumble, nose picking grossness but people from a similar background might find the depiction dated and offensive. Beyond that there are plenty of great fantasy sequences here interspersed with unfortunate swathes of shouty squabbling and poor pacing. It is almost as if Gilliam imagines wondrous scenarios then he doesn’t know how to use his lead ensemble in them. As a rag tag collection of big name cameos and extraordinary imagery the Time Bandits is unrivalled but it tests the patience as often as it marvels… and because I waited until teendom to watch it, it isn’t quite as beloved as say Willow, Back to the Future, The Goonies or The Monster Squad.

8

My Top 10 Time Travel Movies

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One comment

  1. Sam Simon · 23 Days Ago

    Nice post, it’s always good to read about the amazing Terry Gilliam! This is certainly a cult movie, but I understand what you’re saying about notbhaving seen it when you “had to”!

    Like

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