Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Night Magical Movie: Time Bandits

This is one of those movies that takes me back, it's a classic in my book.

Time Bandits was released in 1981 and is another of those great movies that tie back to the Monty Python gang, written and directed by Terry Gilliam, co-written by Michael Palin, and John Cleese makes an appearance as well as Robin Hood.  Another notable contributor is Beatle George Harrison  who is uncredited, but wrote and preformed the song for the closing credits Dream Away. 

While at first glance, it's a fun movie adventure full of sci-fi and magic, if you look a bit deeper you'll find that it's a tale about the nature of good and evil.  In fact one of my families most quotable lines from the movie is, "It's evil...don't touch it!"  delivered with a proper English accent. In our house this line can apply to anything from whatever the cat left on the floor, to a recipe gone horribly wrong, although never as wrong as the one at the end of this film!  That's all I'm saying, no spoilers, although I will say my 12 year old son does not like how this movie ends, he has a soft heart!

Our story begins in the home of Kevin (Craig Warnock)  a bright imaginative kid and his parents who seem quite dull and obsessed with TV and all of the latest and greatest gadgets it presents to help you have a convenient and modern life.  Poor kid, seems out of place to me.  But his life gets much more interesting when a magical door appears in his bedroom sending a mounted knight tromping through his bedroom.  He does what any self respecting 11 year old kid would do, he sits up the next night with a camera and waits.  This time he meets a band of six small men, Randall, Fidget, Vermin, Strutter, Og and Wally, with a "borrowed" map of all the holes in space and time.  
The group posing for one of Kevins photos with the map.

They are on the run from their annoyed employer, the Supreme Being.  Kevin ends up being dragged along with them and soon finds out that the group is in charge of fixing the holes in space and time.  This was apparently a demotion from their previous job of creating trees and bushes, being moved into repair duty after creating the Pink Bunkadoo a particularly smelly 600 foot tall tree.  Not happy with their new career situation, they decided that stealing the map and plundering history for it's riches was a much better idea that fixing those holes.  Which would be why they are now being pursued by the Wizard of Oz like head of the Supreme Being who bellows, "Return the maaaaap!" 
The Bandits doing a questionable performance of "Me and My Shadow" for Napoleon
Following Randall (David Rappaport)  who asserts his leadership, by reminding them that they decided there would be no leader, followed by, "So shut up and do what I say!" They end up stealing from Napoleon(Ian Holm), donating to Robin Hoods cause against their will, stealing from King Agamemnon (Sean Connery), and sinking on the Titanic.
John Cleese as Robin Hood calls sincerely as they leave, "Thank you very much! Thank you very much. Thank you very very very VERY much!
Then says aside, "What awful people."  

Kevin with Agamemnon, a pretty buff Sean Connery in a tunic....nice!
 The whole time unaware that Evil (David Warner) has been watching them with great interest and intends to get his hands on that map.  He secretly influences them to visit the Time of Legends in order to pilfer "The Most Fabulous Object in the World," which just happens to be located in Fortress of Ultimate Darkness, Evils abode. 

Evil has several minions, but only the ones stupid enough never to question him last very long, the smarter ones who do question him seem to get blown up during conversations quite easily.
As Evil tells one of his more faithful followers, "Oh, Benson... Dear Benson, you are so mercifully free of the ravages of intelligence."
It's Evil, Don't touch it!

Evil is really pretty scary, with his crazy sci-fi industrial meets Gothic costuming and realm, it reminds me a bit of the Harkonins from David Lynch's Dune, but that's a movie for another day!

One of the most iconic images from the movie happens in the Time of Legends after the travelers end up swept onto Winston the Ogre's boat.  They turn the tables on the ogre and his wife (delightfully sinister Katherine Helmond from Soap) tossing them both overboard only to discover that the ship is actually being warn as a hat by a really cool giant who goes stomping across the land!

A couple of re-occurring characters are the ridiculous pair Pansy( Shelly Duvall) and Vincent(Michael Palin), as a couple that meet throughout time, although they always seem to have some kind of unspeakable personal problems standing in the way of any kind of normal relationship.
Pansy and Vincent tied to a tree in Sherwood Forest, "The problem, Pansy! It's started again! ...I must have...fruit!"

When Ralph Richardson finally appears as the Supreme Being, (his full body, not just his very aggressive floating head) he still reminds me a bit of the Wizard of Oz, but delightfully so, very matter of fact, and in charge.

Kevin: "Why does their have to be Evil?'
Supreme Being: "I think it has something to do with free will."

It's quite a journey, and well worth the trip!

Happy Monday!

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