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Time Bandits (1981)

PG  |   |  Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy  |  6 November 1981 (USA)
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Reviews: 169 user | 137 critic

A young boy accidentally joins a band of dwarves as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
King Agamemnon / Fireman


A young boy's wardrobe contains a time hole. Through this hole an assortment of short people (i.e. dwarfs) come while escaping from their master, the supreme being. They take Kevin with them on their adventures through time from Napoleonic times to the Middle Ages to the early 1900s, to the time of Legends and the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where they confront Evil. Written by Zaphod <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


All the dreams you've ever had and not just the good ones See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 November 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aikavarkaat  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)


$42,365,600 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original release)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to Terry Gilliam, David Rappaport believed he was given his part for his acting ability alone, without size being a contributing factor, and as a result, did not socialize with his co-stars. During the Invisible Barrier scene when the other bandits retaliate against Randall, it was basically the actors expressing their frustrations with Rappaport. See more »


When the Bandits are pushing the wall to escape Kevin's bedroom it was actually done down a long corridor - there is a piece of tape in the top left corner when they reach the end and push the wall out. Terry Gilliam wanted to go back and do a re-take, but couldn't due to budget restraints. See more »


[first lines]
Announcer: Yes, folks... Moderna Designs present the latest in kitchen luxury. The Moderna Wonder Major All Automatic Convenience Center-ette gives you all the time in the world to do the things you really want to do... An infrared freezer-oven complex that can make you a meal from packet to plate in 15 1/2 seconds.
Kevin's Mother: Morrisons have got one that can do that in eight seconds.
Kevin's Father: Oh?
Kevin's Mother: Block of ice to Beef Bourguignon in eight seconds. Lucky things.
Kevin: Dad, did you know that the ancient Greek warriors ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits the scene where the Bandits have their photo taken is replayed. See more »


Referenced in Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress (1982) See more »


Me And My Shadow
Arranged by John Du Prez
Composed by Billy Rose (as Rose), Al Jolson (as Jolson) and Dave Dreyer (as Dreyer)
Published by Francis Day & Hunter
Performed by David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, Jack Purvis and Tiny Ross.
See more »

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User Reviews

I wonder if I would've liked this more, or less, as a child...
4 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

After submerging myself finally into Time Bandits, perhaps too late (or too soon, if I had kids maybe it would've been a different experience), I found it reminded me of a live-action version of one of these animated adventures I would watch on TV as a kid, where a child would be brought into a fantastical universe away from his dull, ordinary existence, with strange friends/characters, and then go on adventures. In a couple of small ways its even palatable to the Terry Jones/Jim Henson collaboration Labyrinth. But the difference here is that it is fused with some more mature humor and some darker elements. In a way this is what the college-age fans of Monty Python in the 70's must have seen as the perfect film to take their kids to see in the 80's. Terry Gilliam, co-writer/director (co-written with fellow Python Michael Palin), knows how to entertain, and many sequences are terrific. It's a shame that some of them were not as much, and a little spotty. The sheer zaniness though, and the will for Gilliam to keep throwing visual gags and intense, fun imagery, keeps it never boring.

It's without a doubt that Time Bandits is in a sense a more 'mainstream' (err, accessible) picture than many of Gilliam's other works, mostly because it tries to reach into the imagination in all people, young and old. Kevin (Craig Warnock, a good straight-character for the audience amid all the ruckus), is in a land of his own imagination, until a group of pillaging dwarfs (played by the likes of David Rappaport and Kenny 'R2-D2- Baker) traveling through time with a stolen map with gaps through time provided by a crazed 'supreme being'. They visit Napoleon (Ian Holm, an ingenious role), Robin Hood (John Cleese), and by accident King Agamemnon (Sean Connery, an unexpectedly cool role). But when the Evil Genius (David Warner, one of the funniest performances of the film) knows they have it, he'll do anything to lure them in to get it from them.

This leads to a climax that in a darker, more scrambled way, reminded me of the climax of Blazing Saddles. There, like in this film, the story almost runs off the tracks, as many parts of history come into play with the forces of good versus evil. It does come to a satisfying conclusion, but in a small way is almost too much. Pauline Kael's comment that "the film suffers from a surfeit of good ideas" is not without some truth. There are so many jokes, so much imagination, so much creativity, its like a tipping scale that balances back and forth, rarely in the middle, of how affecting it is. For children, therefore, it is a sure bet, because children (for all of the modern corporate grabbing and testing of material) thrive on material like this, where the appearance of a comedian like Michael Palin in two separate, hilarious roles, doesn't matter as much as the sheer one-of-a-kind nature of everything put together. Some of the film is violent (as when the Evil Genius blows things up randomly), but always like a cartoon; one can sense the animation influence in the style's bones.

And that is what separates this film from the other films and shows I saw as a child, that there is this need on the part of the filmmaker not to stick to anything really expected, while still in a 'once upon a time' framework. Some jokes may not be funny to kids until they get older, but images like the giant trudging slowly through the water, the dwarfs in a peril in the cages, the pageantry of the Greek sequences. It's all delightful, but also a little overwhelming, and of course a bit much on the first go-around.

15 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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