Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"...they didn't make history, they stole it!"

Time Bandits (1981) is a brilliant and wacky comedy by Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin, both members of the famous Monty Python troupe. The film’s lighthearted mockery of characters who take themselves too seriously and lampooning of Western civilization are guaranteed to bring an audience to laughter. Like any great yarn, it cleverly deals with the theme of Good versus Evil. Gilliam and Palin are masters at blending slapstick with intellectual humor, a quality that makes Time Bandits highly appealing and compelling.

A young boy named Kevin follows a group of dwarves as they travel through time and space on a treasure-seeking adventure, using a map the dwarves have stolen from the Supreme Being (better known as God). Along the way, they manage to rob Napoleon Bonaparte and the Minotaur-slaying King Agamemnon (Sean Connery), meet Robin Hood (John Cleese), and nearly drown with the Titanic (only to be captured by ogres). The group is lured toward a final showdown at the fortress of Ultimate Darkness, where the imprisoned Evil One is itching to get his claw-like hands on the map so that he can become the Supreme Being.

The film’s zany, delightfully silly nature goes hand in hand with its great creativity. For example, Gilliam and Palin clearly relish the humor that results from putting “serious” heroes and villains in ridiculous situations. Robin Hood, with his pasted-on smile and false joviality, is depicted as shallow and insincere. Instead of being frightening, the man-eating ogre has a bad back and is henpecked by his wife. Even the Supreme Being, a stern, elderly gentleman with a dry sense of humor, is not without his elements of comedy. When Kevin innocently asks why evil exists, the Supreme Being replies, “You know, I can’t really remember…I think it has something to do with free will.”

Time Bandits is an ideal film for those seeking light entertainment or a more thought-provoking work of art.

Here's lots of Monty Python stuff:

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