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Time Bandits

From Academic Kids

Time Bandits (first released on July 13, 1981) is a fantasy film directed by Terry Gilliam (who created animations for Monty Python's Flying Circus), produced by George Harrison's Handmade Films. It was written by Gilliam and fellow Python Michael Palin, who appears in the film in multiple roles.

The story begins with a young boy named Kevin being kidnapped from his bedroom by a group of dwarves who have just stolen a map. The map is no ordinary map: it is a map of time portals, holes in the fabric of space/time. The map allows the holder extra-ordinary powers by allowing them to jump from time to time through the portals. The dwarves stole the map from the Supreme Being, apparently a title for God. Initially they worked for him, creating the world and universe. After being demoted to the Supreme Being's repairs department, the dwarves decide to use the map, entrusted to them for use in repairing the space/time fabric, to get "stinkin' rich". However, the source of all evil (personified by David Warner) is also after the map to gain control of the universe from the Supreme Being.

The band of thieves roams history stealing all that they can, from Mycenaean Greece to the early twentieth century. With the unsolicited assistance of Evil, they are transferred to the Time of Legends and journey to the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness where they confront Evil. The bandits get much the worse of the encounter until the appearance of the Supreme Being, in the person of a middle-aged gentleman in a rumpled business suit who bears a very strong resemblance to Ralph Richardson.

Tagline: All the dreams you've ever had - and not just the good ones..

Kevin is played by Craig Warnock, who has since gone on to play keyboards for New Wave of New Wave/ Britpop band These Animal Men and lately Mo Solid Gold. Kenny Baker of R2-D2 fame plays one of the dwarves, whose leader, Randall, is played by David Rappaport. Sean Connery (as King Agamemnon), Ian Holm (as Napoleon) and former Python John Cleese (as Robin Hood) also appear.

The names of the dwarves are Randall, Fidgit, Strutter, Og, Wally and Vermin. The characters make reference to a dwarf named "Horseflesh" who has apparently died sometime previously. In a preface to the published screenplay, the writers note that an early draft of the script included a part in the film for the Horseflesh character. However, during the revision process, the writers realized that releasing a film with seven dwarf characters might get them in legal trouble, hence the need to kill off Horseflesh prior to the beginning of the story. Despite this, it seems as though the role of Horseflesh was cast, as Marcus Powell is credited with the role in the closing credits.

As might be expected given the participation of half of the Monty Python troupe, the film was much remarked on for its dark sense of humor. It also was the first film in which Gilliam's unique visual style was fully extant: he would go on the develop the style further in his subsequent fantasy films Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen.

The computer game Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress is loosely based on this film.

A sequel to Time Bandits has been the subject of rumors, and Terry Gilliam once expressed his intentions of making a sequel. However, with the untimely demise of David Rappaport, Jack Purvis (Wally), and Tiny Ross (Vermin), a sequel seems unlikely.

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