Time Bandits Terry Gilliam

Time Bandits Terry Gilliam
In Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, David Warner, as the fearsome Evil Genius (for all intents and purposes, the Devil), lurks in his lair, railing against the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson). "Look how he spends his time! Forty-three species of parrots! Nipples for men! Slugs! He created slugs ― they can't hear, they can't speak, they can't operate machinery… I would have started with lasers! Eight o'clock, day one!" His lair, incidentally, is part castle, part rusty boiler room, a maze of pipes, tubes and crumbling rock obscured by thick smoke. Here are the two things Terry Gilliam does best: rococo, beautifully ugly set design and bursts of eccentric comedy. Time Bandits (conceived by Gilliam as a commercial venture to rescue his beloved Brazil from development hell) was the film that established the director as a creative visionary outside of Monty Python. No wonder it met with such success in 1981; its peculiar mix of cheeky British comedy and spectacular fantasy are totally unique to the Gilliam canon. The plot, in which a boy (Craig Warnock) and a band of six little people travel through time with a map stolen from the Supreme Being, is just a clothesline for a variety of elaborate set pieces: the bandits trapped in a boat atop a giant's head or escaping a cage held above an endless black void or finding themselves on a boat that just happens to be the Titanic. Throughout the film, they encounter strange characters: Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall as a pair of pathetically ineffectual lovers; Ralph Richardson as a crusty, aristocratic Supreme Being; Ian Holm as Napoleon, inordinately amused by puppet shows; and John Cleese as a gentlemanly Robin Hood ("Good morning, you're all robbers, are you? Jolly good!"). Like most Gilliam films, Time Bandits feels less than the sum of its parts. Warnock isn't a terribly interesting young hero, the bandits operate more as a single entity than distinct personalities and without compelling protagonists as anchors the rambling, episodic narrative grows a bit exhausting at 111 minutes. It's easier to admire the film from a distance than be totally engrossed. Still, Time Bandits deserves its classic status. It is often funny, sometimes exciting and never boring, and while Gilliam has never been able to tell a really coherent story, few are better at doodling in the margins. The extras from previous Criterion and Anchor Bay editions are sadly absent here, but there is an entertaining 18-minute Q&A with Gilliam. On the possibility of frightening children: "Scary moments and children: these things go hand in hand. I think it was more scary for adults." On casting Sean Connery: "He was mentioned in the original script… 'The Great Warrior takes his helmet off revealing himself to be none or than Sean Connery, or an actor of equal or cheaper stature.'" On co-writing with Michael Palin: "Palin's the one we all want to work with. He's the nice one. He's the bitch Python. They're all basically closet queens, and Mike is our girl." (Alliance)