Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Time Bandits (1981)

"Four foot one! That is a long time, isn't it?"

This isn't really all that brilliant a film, in spite of some splendid individual bits of comedy, but it's a fascinating record of Terry Gilliam at this point in his career, with stylistic signs of his later directorial career yet with one foot very much still in Python- the film just feels very Monty Python, not surprisingly as Gilliam co-wrote it with Michael Palin, and both Palin and John Cleese get some splendid cameos: I love Cleese's version of Robin Hood as Prince Charles. And, as with the Python films, the owner of Handmade Films, one George Harrison, is involved, in this case providing a rather good song.

Also brilliant are Ian Holm's height- obsessed Napoleon and Sean Connery's noble and charismatic Agamemnon, complete with the Caledonian tones which were, I'm sure, de rigeur in ancient Mycenae. David Warner is, as ever, a magnificent baddie and the great Ralph Richardson is, literally, God, although he phoned in his performance somewhat.

The whole concept of a portal in young Kevin's bedroom, a portal into other realities that does not abide by the laws of science, is so very reminiscent of British children's fiction, from Alice to Narnia. The dwarves, put in charge of shrubbery by the Supreme Being, remind me a bit of Slartibartfast from the then-recent Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, while also providing a good employment agency for dwarf actors.

It's not as good as I remembered; individual scenes are good but as a whole it drags a bit. Still, it's a fascinating film to look back on.

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