Time Bandits

10:55 AM

The movie Night at the Museum wanted to be
It might sound strange to hear that Terry Gilliam - member of Monty Python and director of movies like Brazil, Twelve Monkeys and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus - once made a movie for kids. And here's the beauty of it: it's a great kids movie and it's also a great Terry Gilliam movie.

All the characteristics of Gilliam's quirky aesthetics are there: the bleak and dirty scenarios, the plastic and ragged costumes, the faulty modern technology and of course - the explosions.

Kevin is a smart and curious boy who loves reading about History and all things interesting (he's reading The Big Book of Greek History in the first scene).

His parents, on the other hand, are obsessed with kitchen appliances, the newspaper and an extreme game show called Your money or your life (I can't believe this movie is from 1981 - were we always that obsessed with Reality tv?)

One evening, a Medieval Knight, with his horse and everything, enters his bedroom and quickly vanishes. The next night, Kevin is waiting for something to happen - with a camera and a flashlight. No knight comes, but a group of dwarves who claim to be international criminals. They have this map who allows them to travel in time. Kevin is unsure of what to do, but he must follow the little guys once this terrible huge bright face chases them. Things couldn't become more exciting.

"Who sent you? The gods?"
They go back to 1796, right into the Battle of Castiglione, and have dinner with a complexed Napoleon (Ian Holm). Later Kevin discovers that the terrible face was actually God (the Supreme Being) from whom the guys stole the map. To make matters worse, the devil is also after the map and following the group every step of the way.

The movie manages to be funny and at the same time incredibly interesting for kids (and adults who like History and adventure). Kevin gets to meet Napoleon, Robin Hood, King Agamemnon and even an ogre called Winston!

"- We're in the Middle Ages.
- In the Middle Ages?! 
 Five hundredd years before the man we just robbed is even born. 
Try that in a court of law."
Amazingly, the movie makes an interesting and yet accessible portrayal of God and the devil. (I say amazingly because Monty Python had his share of mocking and criticizing religion and especially Christianity. Moreover, I still couldn't fully get Dr. Parnassus - here's an interesting point about it.) 

The Supreme Being, despite looking scary, is only trying to warn them to return the map. When Kevin asks Him why there has to be evil, He answers: "I think it has something to do with free-will".

The devil seems unable to convince even his stupid minions that he wasn't created and that he is confined to a dreadful place because it's part of his plans. He hates God's creations such as butterflies and daffodils and prefers microchips, computers and lasers!

If you didn't watch Time Bandits as a child, I strongly recommend watching it now. Many of us will identify with Kevin's tastes and will rejoice at how cool he is - so unlike modern nerds who are more like caricatures - see the guys from The Big Bang Theory. Besides, adults will be able to appreaciate Gilliam's quirckiness and enjoy spotting cameos from the likes of John Cleese, Sean Connery and Ian Holm.

When I was a child I would get goosebumps when Kevin appears with pictures of King Agamemnon and all his historical friends. I'd still love to have those polaroids.

Have you seen Time Bandits? Do you like other movies by Terry Gilliam?

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