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Time Bandits (1981)

Trailer
3:09 | Trailer
A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.

Director:

Terry Gilliam
Reviews
Popularity
3,205 ( 211)
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Cleese ... Robin Hood
Sean Connery ... King Agamemnon / Fireman
Shelley Duvall ... Dame Pansy / Pansy
Katherine Helmond ... Mrs. Ogre
Ian Holm ... Napoleon
Michael Palin ... Vincent
Ralph Richardson ... Supreme Being
Peter Vaughan ... Winston the Ogre
David Warner ... Evil Genius
David Rappaport ... Randall
Kenny Baker ... Fidgit
Malcolm Dixon ... Strutter
Mike Edmonds ... Og
Jack Purvis ... Wally
Tiny Ross ... Vermin
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Storyline

Intrigued by history but neglected by his parents, Kevin, an eleven-year-old schoolboy, gets the chance to make his dream come true when a band of six time-travelling dwarfs appears out of thin air in his bedroom. Having stolen the Supreme Being's one-of-a-kind map of time and space, the audacious time-bandits whisk Kevin off on an exciting journey to the depths of history, skipping from one era to another. Now, to further complicate matters, the dangerous arch-rival known as the Evil Genius is hot on their trail, bent on getting his hands on the precious map. But, who would have thought that Kevin's seemingly unexceptional room was the entrance to a mysterious wormhole and the portal to a marvellous world of adventure? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

...they didn't make history, they stole it! See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After the giant walks out from the sea, it steps on a hut, which is the home of the butler-elephant creature from the "Find the Fish" segment of The Meaning of Life (1983). See more »

Goofs

Although the movie reports Napoléon Bonaparte's height as 5 feet 2 inches correctly, this was actually in pre-metric French units, which would be 5 feet 6 inches in British-American units - an above-average height for a 19th-century Frenchman who would therefore not be as sensitive about his height as the movie portrays. See more »

Quotes

[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 had to...
[...]
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

A version seen on US television omits the scene of the Time Bandits ramming the sleeping potion into the scalp of the giant. It cut from it stepping on the house to him becoming tired, seemingly on his own. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Goldbergs: You're Under Foot (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

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
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User Reviews

 
I wonder if I would've liked this more, or less, as a child...
4 September 2005 | by Quinoa1984See 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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Handmade Films Website

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 November 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Time Bandits See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,507,356, 8 November 1981

Gross USA:

$42,365,581

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$42,368,025
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

HandMade Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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