Time Bandits

Time Bandits (1981)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Ian Holm, Sean Connery, David Rappaport, Michael Palin, Shelley Duvall

A possible re-telling of "The Wizard of Oz, Terry Gilliam's 1981 "Time Bandits" contains all the usual irreverent, wacky, British humor we've grown to know and love. And puppets and trolls. David Rappaport stars as Randall, a young boy who accidentally joins a band of six good-natured dwarves as they jump through different time-periods, searching for hidden treasure. The midgets transport Randall through a time-portal to a distant netherworld. When trouble develops, they escape through a black-and-blue magic door. They all surf through meetings with Napoleon, Robin Hood, and Agamemnon, with a map the little people stole from their Supreme Being. But as they rob their way along, they bump into the Evil Genius, a nasty fellow who needs the map so that he may become the Supreme Being. Are you with me so far?

"Time Bandits" contains a few nicely appointed visuals, and several striking set pieces. Dusty, swirling Knights ride beautiful white horses, not unlike Gilliam's "Monty Python" and "The Fisher King." The sparkling screenplay is almost like desert… "Are we not in the hands of the lunatic?" "You haven't had an idea for 1,000 years!" "I may never be able to get back." "To get back where?"

The large cast includes John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Michael Palin, Sir Ralph Richardson, David Warner, and Kenny Baker. Sean Connery is billed second in a dual role, as the King, and also as a modern-day fireman in the finale. Terry Gilliam did not intend to cast him as King Agamemnon, but he wrote in the screenplay that when the King took off his helmet, he looked "exactly like Sean Connery." Ian Holm plays Napoleon and future star Jim Broadbent has also a small role.

One-time Beatle George Harrison served as executive producer of "Time Bandits," and supplied the beautiful song "Dream Away", which runs over the closing credits. "Time Bandits" was filmed at Lee International Studios, with England, Wales, and Morocco providing the film's wonderful backdrops.

The "Time Bandits" UMD transfer is in Dolby Digital Stereo, and the release is in Technicolor. While watching the "Your Money or Your Life" British television sequence, the sound rotates nicely from left to right. And when the maiden (Shelly Duvall) appears and screams, the noise is strictly left channel at a temporary high volume. And there's nice sound separation in the courtyard scene, as the voices are forced to the left side. There seems to be a slight softness to the picture transfer which is most likely a result of the original intent, as it was also found in one of the DVD incarnations of the film. However, the remarkable UMD is clean, avoiding blemishes and speckles.

"Time Bandits" features no logic, no sense, and no normalcy! In fact, it's just great.