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A young boy named kevin escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarves. Armed with a map stolen from the supreme being, they plunder treasure from napoleon and agamemnon, but the evil genius is watching their every move.
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In this fantastic voyage through time and space from director Terry Gilliam. A boy named Kevin [Craig Warnock] escapes his gadget-obsessed parents, to join a band of time-traveling dwarfs. Armed with a map stolen from the Supreme Being [Sir Ralph Richardson], they plunder treasure from Napoleon [Ian Holme] and Agamemnon [Sean Connery]. But the Evil Genius [David Warner] is watching their every move. Featuring, a darkly playful script by Terry Gilliam and his Monty Python cohort Michael Palin (who also appears in the film). ‘Time Bandits’ is at once a giddy fairy tale adventure, a revisionist history lesson, and a satire of technology gone awry.
Cast: Craig Warnock, David Daker, Sheila Fearn, Jim Broadbent, John Cleese, Sean Connery, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Sir Ralph Richardson, Peter Vaughan, David Warner, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, Jack Purvis, Tiny Ross, Derek Deadman, Jerold Wells, Tony Jay (Supreme Being voice), Terence Bayler, Preston Lockwood, Derrick O'Connor, Neil McCarthy and Ian Muir (Giant)
Director: Terry Gilliam
Producer: Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin
Composer: Mike Moran and Songs by George Harrison
Cinematography: Peter Biziou
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Audio Stereo and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Running Time: 116 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: The Criterion Collection / HandMade Films
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘Time Bandits’ is a cheerfully irreverent lark and part fairy tale, part science fiction and part comedy. It's a fantastic though wobbly flight through history and legend in the company of a small boy named Kevin and six dwarfs named Randall, Fidgit, Wally, Og, Stutter and Vermin. These are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill little people. They are more like the angry, liberated kind of crowd Snow White hung out with. Because the film was written by Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam, and directed by Terry Gilliam, it's no surprise that ‘Time Bandits’ recalls the manic work of the Monty Python group, of which Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin are founding members.
However, unlike the earlier Monty Python films, especially ‘The Life of Brian,’ ‘Time Bandits’ appeals as much too very young moviegoers as well to an older generation and times when it might scare the hell out of small children, but enjoyed enormously by an older generation with a humour we've come to associate with Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin and John Cleese, who turns up in ‘Time Bandits’ as a very unusual quirky and eccentric Robin Hood.
‘Time Bandits’ has as its basis nothing less than the Greatest Mystery Story Ever Told, the creation of the universe. It is the mad quirky mind set idea of Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam that the Supreme Being [Sir Ralph Richardson] became a little forgetful towards the end of those first, eventful seven days and left some holes in time.
The dwarfs, who had helped the Supreme Being in His work, but always in lowly tasks in creating trees and bushes and doing repair work of one sort and another, eventually rebelled and took off from His workshop, taking with them the map showing where the ''time holes'' were. As ‘Time Bandits’ begins, the dwarfs have just fled from their “Supreme Being” Master and, accidentally, run into young Kevin in his 20th Century London bedroom. Kevin is delighted by the strangers and enthusiastically joins their grand scheme to become the greatest international bandits in history.
Nothing, of course, ever works out as planned, especially by this unruly crew. By chance, they fall through one hole in time and find themselves with a short-tempered Napoleon [Ian Holm], who is in the process of conquering Italy. Though victorious, Napoleon is not happy. He feels himself to be surrounded by ''freaks'' meaning men taller than he is. When first seen, Napoleon is sitting in the ruins of Castiglione watching a Punch and Judy show with rapt attention. ''That's what I like,'' says Napoleon, ''little things hitting each other!'' He replaces his general staff with Kevin and the Time Bandits.
In swift succession, the band of dwarfs and Kevin drop into and out of ancient Greece, where Kevin becomes the adopted son and heir of Agamemnon [Sean Connery]; Sherwood Forest, ruled by John Cleese's in the guise of a posh Robin Hood, who affects the forced royal sort of affability of someone like the Duke of Edinburgh at the inauguration of a public swimming pool; the deck of the Titanic, just in time for one of the dwarfs to order champagne ''with plenty of ice,'' as well as mythical lands inhabited by giants, ogres and worse. The incomparable Shelley Duvall is wasted in two tiny roles, first as a medieval maiden whose hot-blooded lover Vincent [Michael Palin] has an emotional disability, and then as a passenger on the Titanic, still being pursued by Michael Palin, who this time is an upper-class twit.
Also seen from time to time is David Warner as the Evil Genius, who seeks to rule the universe with the dwarfs' time-hole map, and, near the end, the great Sir Ralph Richardson, whose “Supreme Being” [God] is a benign, weary, grey suited fellow bored to distraction by the question as to why He chose to allow evil loose in the world. He brushes the subject away, ''Something to do with free will, I think.''
At its best, ‘Time Bandits’ is extremely very, very good. The physical production is elaborate and lush, and the special effects are marvellously well done. It's played with fine comic style by everyone from Sir Ralph Richardson, Sean Connery, Ian Holm and David Warner on down through to young Craig Warnock and the six irrepressible dwarfs, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Mike Edmonds, Malcolm Dixon and Tiny Ross.
The humour is surreal, spiteful and very funny, while Terry Gilliam's imagination goes berserk in the final half, set in a make-believe era known as “the Time of Legends.” Here we find an irritable ogre stricken with lower-back pain, a gormless sea giant, and the gothic vision that is the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. The film's £5 million [$8 million] budget evidently couldn't keep up with Terry Gilliam's fevered visions, and a further two scenes had to be dropped, one involving a pair of spidery old ladies, the other a forest of monstrous hands.
The film's imagination versus rationality theme climaxes with an ingenious skirmish in which a toy-littered bedroom becomes a sprawling battleground. Here the shape-shifting Evil creatively dismantles an army of cowboys, spaceships and tanks rallied from the annals of history. Even being the “Supreme Being” [God] himself turns up, is a priceless cameo from Sir Ralph Richardson, looking like a slightly bewildered bank manager.
Such a “non-ending” would have been scrubbed by a larger studio. Indeed, arguments over the ending of ‘BRAZIL’ caused major delays, discontent and ultimately the release of a director’s cut to bring the movie back to Terry Gilliam’s original vision. ‘Time Bandits’ stands as a glimpse at the filmmaking of Terry Gilliam freed from the oppressive structures of a high powered studio. His visual sense, especially consider the scene with the suspended cages; this scene looks like no other in modern films, and is unconstrained and his storytelling stands as he intended it. ‘Time Bandits’ gives us a sense of what makes Gilliam such a unique and powerful director. And, again it is very very funny.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘Time Bandits’ is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Black bars at the top and bottom of the screen are normal for this format. Supervised by director Terry Gilliam, this new digital transfer was created in 2K resolution on an ARRISCAN film scanner from the original camera negative. The restoration was overseen by Arrow Video and performed at Deluxe Digital Cinema in London. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratched, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed us MTI’s DRS. This The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray disc should be placed ahead of all other competition, especially pre-existing international Blu-ray releases. Flesh tones are stable throughout, while crush is undetectable and colours remain fully saturated. A few shots of the Napoleonic battleground have image inconsistencies, but they look to be in-camera fluctuations of natural light and movement and not transfer flaws. The high-definition transfer is not identical to the Arrow Academy used for their release of the ‘Time Bandits’ in the United Kingdom.
Blu-ray Video Quality – The original stereo soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from the original 35mm magnetic track. The uncompressed stereo is quieter than one might expect of so boisterous a film, but a lack of any aural issues and consistent balancing of the various effects, dialogue, and music makes for a clear track. There is only one standard audio track on this Blu-ray release in the form of a 2.0 LPCM Audio Stereo track. For the record, The Criterion Collection has provided an optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
NEW Beautiful Stunning 3D Special Printed Slip Cover.
NEW 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Terry Gilliam, with an Uncompressed Stereo soundtrack.
Audio Commentary: Commentary featuring Terry Gilliam, cowriter-actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock: Originally recorded for The Criterion Collection back in 1997, features director Terry Gilliam, and co-screenwriter and actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner and Craig Warnock. To listen to the audio commentary while viewing the film, you have to press the AUDIO key button to select the 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo.
Special Feature: Creating the Worlds of Time Bandits  [1080p] [16:9] [23:22] This New piece, that is 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. This is a must view, as you get some very insightful information of what went on behind-the-scenes of making the film ‘Time Bandit.’
Special Feature: Terry Gilliam and Peter von Bagh  [480i] [4:3] [79:31] This conversation between Terry Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh, recorded at the 1998 Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä in Finland. This lengthy conversation between Terry Gilliam and film scholar Peter von Bagh sees the two discuss the filmmaker’s childhood upbringing in Minnesota, the influence of various artists, comedians and filmmakers on his work, being a cartoonist, working on the ‘Time Bandits’ and more. What annoyed me about this conversation was how the pompous boring idiot Peter von Bagh hogged the whole session and did not allow anyone in the audience to ask questions. But apart from this negative aspect of this session, it gives you a great insight oh what makes Terry Gilliam tick and how it gives a great insight on how his imagination about making his films. The only thing I didn’t like, is how it suddenly ends without warning.
Special Feature: Shelley Duvall  [480i] [4:3] [8:44] Appearance by actor Shelley Duvall on Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show from 1981 in front of a live audience. Shelley Duvall speaks with host Tom Snyder about ‘Time Bandits’ and ‘The Shining’ and especially working with Robert Altman and realising that was a star after being recognised in a fast food drive-thru. What shocked me the most is what a thick idiot Tom Snyder and his ignorance comments on more intelligent British Humour, than compared to what we see from America? The image and sound quality was like if it was copied off a very bad quality VHS tape that had been recorded at home.
Special Feature: Stills Gallery  1080p] [16:9] This Stills Gallery reveals 25 rare photographs from the set and crew at work on the set of ‘Time Bandits.’ You have to press the right arrow on your remote hand set to move the images forward and the left button to move the images backward. To exit you have to press the ENTER button on your remote hand set.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [4:3] [3:10] Written as if it was a sketch from the ‘Monty Python’s Flying Circus,’ and has a very silly [not very funny] voice over that kind of ruined it for me. Also why is the trailer not in the right ratio as the film and I can’t understand why the people at The Criterion Collection could not have got hold of a much better quality master copy?
BONUS: Here you have is an essay by critic David Sterritt, entitled “GUERRILLA FANTASTY.” On one side of this fold out Sheet is a lovingly rendered essay by David Sterritt, as well as film credits and transfer info. On the other side is a beautiful colourful reproduction of the map that was used in the ‘Time Bandits’ film.
Finally, Terry Gilliam's grandiose, darkly comic children's adventure has seen many home-video releases over the years, but The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray finally gives the film the package it deserves and is a joy to view and at times it makes you want to join in the fantasy adventure with Kevin and his time bandits friends in this fantastic voyage through time and space. Perhaps the greatest characteristic attributable to the ‘Time Bandits’ is its sense of invention. The film does so many things on so many levels, all of them done very well. At first glance, one would not think of this as a mainstream production, but it made more than $40 million in U.S. cinemas alone – an exceptionally good figure for a "small" film. This, as much as anything, is a testimony to ‘Time Bandits’ wide ranging appeal. The blend of quick-moving adventure, familiar faces, lowbrow slapstick, highbrow wit, and visual style offers more than one thing to just about everyone. And, with an ending that mocks the idea of "happily ever after." ‘Time Bandits’ concludes perfectly. This is a great film that has only gotten better with the passage of 20 years. Very Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom