November 9, 1981 [Time Bandits]

The map in Time Bandits shows you where the holes are--and you would think that's helpful: fall in a hole in a Terry Gilliam movie and you never know, could be as whoopsy-daisy as Monty Python, a silly walk into a really hilarious nightmare. But the little guys and the kid do the opposite: They jump into the holes--still makes sense: they're in a Terry Gilliam movie, no way out, might as well go in to get out.

And if you follow them, Gilliam gives you a little something to cushion the fall: your own childhood, the wall of your bedroom collapsing and setting you free. Gilliam's parents are grotesque--that's OK: Gilliam doesn't play fair, we've already been warned--so the terrors in the time-holes seem a relief, and the boy follows--well, is often swept along, but he comes in handy once Evil shows up. And God Himself also pops in, knowing he's the Boss but too busy to make a fuss. He just wants the place dusted off and the chairs set aright; Evil is an incidental Thing, the last unwelcome guest. With that assertion, Time Bandits opens its snickering little happy heart, glad to rid the world of awful parents and half-witted consumerism--easy targets, but I'm not complaining, as long as the boy gets to poke around in Gilliam's audacious creation, a world so strange and cunning you can't help sneaking in for a little loot of your own.


  1. Despite its flaws, "Time Bandits" is still an incredibly entertaining film. I wouldn't mind watching it over and over again.

  2. It is flawed--and that's true of a number of Gilliam's movies. But he always makes it clear he's in it for the long haul, never shirking. And always the animator-surrealist, somewhere between Bunuel and Don Martin.


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