Time Bandits
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Time Bandits

The reality is far too overrated. Cybernetic scientists and computer experts are diligently searching for ways to create artificial reality when the majority of people can’t handle the real thing. Reality consistently of soldiers from the moment we pulled from a nice, warm and dark environment where floating the nine months blissfully in with trust into an overly lit cold world. Each day after that, reality inextricably presses in upon us. Thankfully, it was a category of cinema that can provide respite from reality and allow us to indulge in being silly. Something this has a bad reputation in our society as frivolous and nonproductive. Actually, as a means of preserving our sanity, silliness should be incorporated into our lives on a regular albeit well-paced basis. The last 50 years or there has been one trope of people that not only supplied silliness into our lives set the bar for it; the group of brilliant comedians people know as Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The canon of work encompassing television series in several movies is well known and much beloved throughout the world. As with any group of such exceptionally talented people, there are certain to be various side projects that are technically not considered part of the formal group’s oeuvre. The example of cinematic artistry found here is such a work: ‘Time Bandits.' This film was directed by the largely unseen member of Monty Python, Terry Gilliam and co-written by Python regular Michael Palin. It does feature a couple of the Monty Python regulars, but the cast here has been expanded significantly by a fabulous selection of actors familiar to us all that hail from those sceptered isles, Sean Connery, Jim Broadbent and Peter Vaughan, to name just a few.

One of the most prevalent themes found in the humor of Monty Python’s explored in far greater detail within the context of this film. It considers the necessity of insane behavior as a rebellion against the overly organized and regulated society. Time Bandits is considered the first film in Terry Gilliam’s, ‘Trilogy of Imagination’ which is followed by Brazil (1985) and with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1989). It is highly recommended that you get in to enjoy all three. So far, Brazil Has Been Available as Part of the Criterion Collection for a While and Time Bandits is just been inducted into this scheme collection of films. Collectively, Gilliam’s trilogy considers the necessity to escape the confinement imposed by an overly ordered society through the use of imagination. Each of the three films focuses on an individual at a different stage of life; one Munchausen office the perspective of an elderly man, Brazil delves into the imagination of a man in his 30s, and as is only proper, this movie inaugurates the trilogy by examining the imagination of a young boy. As you watch these films, you may naturally wonder what psychotropic substances were used to augment their creative perspective. At the following the careers of these men over decades, I have come to the conclusion that although some pharmacological assistance most of the ivory had been used the most delightful thing about this group of people is that they were born within the marvelously twisted perspective of the world and the talent to share it with others.

Kevin (David Daker) is an 11-year-old boy in possession of a trait commonly referred to by adults is an overactive imagination. This means although physically consigned to this reality is mind frequently travels through time and space taking the whimsical boy adventures. His imagination dovetails nicely with his infatuation with history, allowing Kevin to remove himself from the dry facts and dates his textbook, enabling him to wonder what the people in the times will like. One of his favorite time periods was that of ancient Greece. His mother (Sheila Fearn) and father (David Daker). Almost a dismissive of the stories concocted in his head. His payments of far too preoccupied with the acquisition of devices and of the material goods they see as necessary to retain parity with their neighbors. This is a recurring theme in Gilliam’s trilogy, which a byproduct of a society that is ordered so well his overt consumerism. It drives the economy by creating marketable items which in turn means people have to have jobs to pay for their purchase. There was a sitcom that lasted for some years over in Britain that focuses on one man’s quest to break free of this endless cycle; ‘Good Neighbor’s,' it is a sitcom like nothing you’ve ever seen here in the United States.

Kevin (Craig Warnock) is an 11-year-old boy in possession of a faculty referred to by adults as an overactive imagination. His body trapped in reality, but his mind soars through time and space bringing him on wonderful flights of fancy. His parents just don’t understand him. His mother (Sheila Fearn) and father (David Daker) are far too busy accumulating items and gadgets collected for the sole purpose of maintaining parity in neighbors’ possessions. One night, Kevin’s perspective of the world would change forever. While he’s sleeping in his room, his wardrobe suddenly burst open. Out of it burst an armored knight astride his steed. In his bedroom wall dissolves into a forest into which the knight rides. A split-second later his room is back to normal, but when he looks at a photo on his wall, he notices that it forest. He has been perfect. Hoping the next night, but have a repeat of this experience, Kevin prepares backpacking a bag, including a Polaroid camera. Again, his wardrobe becomes a portal as six dwarfs fill his room. They are in possession of a much worn, large map and anxious to find an exit somewhere in the boy’s bedroom. Kevin’s hesitation quickly abated when a massive head appears, the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson). The demands the immediate return of his map, as Kevin in the dwarfs fall into an abyss. What follows is a surreal journey through time and space that might be likened to discussing Stephen Hawking’s time space series while under the influence of an intense psychedelic.

As Kevin accompanies the sextet of temporal thieves, they journey to a gamut of occasions and places all to the sheer wonderment of the boy and vicariously to the audience. As they bounce around the fabric of the universe the stop off during the Napoleonic Wars, Robin Hood (John Cleese), Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm) and Kevin’s favorite, Mycenaean Greece. Things get rather wide even for a lad as imaginative as Kevin when he is called upon to assist King Agamemnon (Sean Connery) to kill a Minotaur, hugely endearing him to the monarch. Ultimately he discovers the urgency of his diminutive traveling companion’s predicament. Until recently they were in the employ of the Supreme Being tasked with repairing holes in the fabric of space-time. The larcenous potential of the map results in greed overwhelming loyalty to steal riches from wherever and whenever they can. They wind up searching for ‘the Most Fabulous Object in the World’ which brings them to ‘the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness.' It should come as no surprise to anyone that this is a trap laid by an entity called, Evil (David Warner). This this is a ride through history that will challenge your grasp on reality. As a member of the illustrious Criterion Collection, this is guaranteed to be the best possible video and audio transfers with a wealth of informative extras.

bulletNew 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Terry Gilliam, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack
bulletAudio commentary featuring Gilliam, cowriter-actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock
bulletNew piece, narrated by film writer David Morgan, featuring production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson discussing the creation of the film's various historical periods and fantasy worlds
bulletConversation between Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh recorded at the 1998 Midnight Sun Film Festival
bulletAppearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder's "Tomorrow" show from 1981
bulletGallery of rare photographs from the set
bulletPLUS: An essay by critic David Sterritt

Posted 12/14/2014            03/16/2017

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