Movies You Should Have Seen: Time Bandits

The movie Time Bandits from 1981 is the story of a young little history buff who one night finds a rowdy troupe of dwarves tumbling out of his closet who reveal themselves to be robbers in possession of a map that allows them to travel through time. Steam-rolled by the unfolding events he joins them on an adventure taking them through different periods of time, always chased by an ominous supreme being and the personified evil itself.

I first saw this movie as a child and it must have been pretty early on. I do not quite remember if my mother rented it from a video store or if it was shown on TV, but being a bit of dreamy history nerd myself at that time, it felt like it was just made for me. This movie sparked my imagination a lot and was one of many Terry Gilliam movies to do so, despite its sometimes very dark and unsettling humor.

Craig Warnock plays Kevin the history nerd

Terry Gilliam became known as a member of the British surreal comedy group Monty Python. After working with them on several films like Monty Python's Life Of Brian, he moved on to become a director by himself. He rose to fame in the mid-nineties when he did a series of films that were either highly successful or became cult like The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys or Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. As mentioned I was influenced by a lot of his early movies when I was a child, so I am pretty sure that he will be the topic of further posts on this blog.

A rowdy gang: Mike Edmonds, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, David Rappaport, Tiny Ross, Jack Purvis

The movie has been made on the astonishingly small budget of 5 million dollars and yet it has some of the most inventive practical effects to be found at that time. The usage of the camera in this movie is excellent. In all of his films Terry Gilliam has created an own visual style that is instantly recognizable. Here are some examples:

With the good use of lighting, camera angle and the right kind of movement, the hunting shadows are an excellent example of how a scary effect can be achieved with little means.
Never has a human been taller, than when you see him from an extreme up-shot, supported by the right kind of sound, cutting and manipulation of viewing speed and of course, casting the right actor.
Even though it is just a Marquette, the Fortress Of Darkness seems to be enormous in size. I wonder if it served as an inspiration for Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings?
Always filmed from an upshot angle, evil itself appears more imposing or comical when needed.

 In a 2014 interview with the Telegraph Terry Gilliam admitted that he was a voracious reader of comics: “I’ve got a cartoonist’s eye, I see the grotesque, my eye goes for the odd thing in a scene, then emphasizes it.” Something that shows in his use of composition, shape language and choice of camera angles. I think that any comic artist can learn a lot from studying his films.

Aside from a lot of high quality cast that I will omit for the sake of brevity (I hope that by now you will dash to the nearest video store wanting to watch the movie anyways - oh wait), Time Bandits features Sean Connery. Needless to say this is probably the best role Sean Connery has ever played:

It is unclear whether Sean Connery is the best match for the role of Agamemnon or the other way around, but seeing him in costume in this movie is just hilarious. How did they get him on a five million budget?  

Please go watch this movie and let me know what you think of it in the comments. I hope you enjoyed this post!

4 Page Comic - February 2018

Here is my newest 4 Page Comic. While it's really not anything like summer where I am at right now, it is obvious that I can not wait for it. Exploring some golden summer lighting here, enjoy!

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