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United Kingdom 1981
Directed by
Terry Gilliam
112 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Time Bandits

Although John Cleese and Michael Palin appear in this sort-of kid’s adventure fantasy scripted by Palin and Gilliam, who provided the animated sequences for the Monty Python films and television series, this is not a Python project but rather a long-winded series of vignettes involving a pre-teen boy (Craig Warnock) travelling back and forth through various historic moments in time in the company of six naughty dwarves whilst being pursued by the personifications of Good and Evil (Ralph Richardson and David Warner respectively).

The director has maintained that the film is the opening salvo of a trilogy which, with Brazil (1985) and The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (1989), deal with the three stages of man. Even accepting this doesn't make it any better. As with most Gilliam films it’s big on special effects and short on substance (it was never apparent to me what the dwarves were up to ). Gilliam draws heavily on the tradition of "fantastic" art and literature with familiar devices such as giants, ogres, medieval knights, ghost galleons and Gothic castles featuring large. As such the film excites strong support with certain audiences who like this kind of thing and seem to regard silliness as a form of satire and dwarves as inherently absurd. Clearly I am not one of them although there were enough of them out there to make the film a box office success. 




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