I’ve looked at a lot of the speculative fiction films of Terry Gilliam, and I guess I should probably talk about the one that “started it all”, Time Bandits. I am leaving out his Monty Python history, not to mention Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which some consider one of the funniest films of all time.
Time Bandits is a film that looks like it could be targeted to children, as its plotline seems rather juvenile. I mentioned in my review of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen that Gilliam’s films are often charged with imagination, almost too much, honestly. Time Bandits is certainly no exception, but what makes it interesting is how it is organized.
The film is about a young boy named Kevin who has his room invaded one night by a group of little people. These little men took a map from a Supreme Being, which shows that the fabric of reality has some holes in it. The map shows when and where the holes open, and where they lead. The little people take Kevin on a series of adventures across that space/time continuum that include meeting historical figures like Napoleon, Robin Hood, and Agamemnon. They also meet a giant and other fairy tale conventions, including an embodiment of Evil who wants to use the Map for his own plan.
Time Bandits was filmed on a pretty low budget of $5 Million dollars, which was probably a lot of money back in 1981. It certainly does have no lack of imagination, and the ending is a huge battle that uses all kinds of props from all different times. It is truly worth seeing if you can get a hold of it.
I figure this is also a good time to talk about other films in the Gilliam collection.
Brazil: I’m sure there are readers who wonder why I didn’t bring up Gilliam’s story of a dystopian future. Here is why: this film scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Maybe some day I will watch it again, and who knows if I will appreciate it as many do.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: In all honesty, I usually don’t see films that deal with drugs. This is also because they scare the hell out of me. That is, I’m sure they are accurate in showing at least some iota of what drug abuse is like, but I just don’t really want to know about that.
The Fisher King: I saw this film, but I don’t really remember it. I remember it deals with a radio announcer “shock jock” who meets a homeless man played by Robin Williams. I don’t remember really hating it, but it has a very odd message.
The Brothers Grimm: I’m pretty certain that no one saw this film. It is about the Brothers Grimm, who were apparently frauds, until they meet a real witch.
The Zero Theorem: This film is coming soon, and it is anticipated. I’ve heard that it is about a computer hacker trying to find the answer for life.