Time Bandits (1981)

SPOILER ALERT: As these reviews are of an academic nature, they may contain spoilers. Future reviews will try to limit that, but until then, read at your own risk.

Time Bandits

Dir. Terry Gilliam, 1981

This film was Gilliam’s third, and is amongst his most bizarre. The film feels like a children’s book, though the story is in fact original. From the first few scenes, its not clear how anyone could’ve come up with it: a little boy who loves history is ignored by his hyperconsumerist parents, but is unintentionally rescued by thieving dwarves on the run from God. Because only the boy is pure of heart, he is charged with rebuilding history by God. But God seems indifferent, and in the end, not only do his parents not learn the error of their ways; they are unceremoniously blown up by a piece of concentrated Evil: that’s how the film ends.

As always, Gilliam excels with the visual elements. The protagonists travel through time using animated square portals, and the dungeon of Evil is reminiscent of MC Escher. Most of the scenes are ensconced in darkness, and those that don’t inevitably end badly. Terry Gilliam uses both the story and visual to leave the viewer satisfied, yet unsettled. B-

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