A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.A young boy accidentally joins a band of time travelling dwarves, as they jump from era to era looking for treasure to steal.
For starters, I love how Gilliam handled the boy 'hero' in "Bandits". He's not anyone spectacular, aside from an active imagination (over and above his banal parents), and he really doesn't contribute much to the story-it simply passes him by. Most of the other characters don't like him that much even. (the "stinking Kevin" line just makes me howl!) He's also not that cute, which is a rarity with child actors and which sinks most films with them. Plus, the danger of the story doesn't stop at him, as shown by the rather sobering finale. No 'It's all a dream' type cop-out here. Having studied the form of the fantasy as explained by Tolkien myself, Gilliam obviously understands how it works.
Of course, because it works, "Time Bandits" is just plain fun. The plot's out of nowhere-just kind of trips along through time and space and stranger things. Napoleon as a height-obsessed drunkard? Robin Hood as the aloof, unlikely leader of a band of violent, too-merry men? Agamemnon as the ideal father figure? It's all here, plus the technocratic, pyromaniac "Evil" vs. the Supreme Being. Ah, you always knew He was an staid Englishman in a pinstripe suit, didn't you? ("Dead? No excuse for laying off work.")
Perhaps it's not Gilliam's masterpiece, as "Brazil" could be argued for that...though one could also argue "Time Bandits" gives a bleaker perspective through the contrast of the fun and whimsy. If our reality is depressing now, and Kevin's was, is the fulfillment of our fantasies any better? Perhaps Randall said it best himself - "Heroes, bah! What do they know about an honest day's work?" :-)
- Jul 27, 2000