Monday Movies, You Are So Mercifully Free from the Ravages of Intelligence
Let’s start with a song!
Time Bandits was a childhood favorite, a VHS prize worn down to the tracking. But Mrs. K-sky only ever saw the trailer, and once more into the breach. It unquestioningly holds up.
A couple of things I noticed this time that I hadn’t before:
Katharine Helmond (Brazil, Who’s The Boss) is instantly recognizable. Peter Vaughan, whom you may have enjoyed as Maester Aemon out at the Wall, was a surprise.
Kevin, the boy whose bedroom wardrobe hosts a time-hole, isn’t a particularly active or commanding hero, although he was a great window character for young K-sky in 1982. He does have an interesting role to play in the way the movie sets up value oppositions, however. His parents are obsessed with modern gadgetry, living in a perpetually fritzing ultra-modern kitchen. Evil (credited on imdb as “Evil Genius”) shares their obsession, disdaining Creation and its slugs and wanting to wipe the slate clean and start over with “subscriber trunk dialing.” The bandits operate on an entirely different axis; they want to use the map of the the time-holes in creation to pull off audacious heists and get stinking rich. (As in my childhood D&D games, the encumbrance question is left unanswered. Where does all the loot go?)
Before the medieval knight comes crashing through Kevin’s wall, that wall is plastered with drawings of the same knight. Kevin wants to see the places and meet the people. He has no interest in the conversion of history into cash nor in its erasure with technology — he wants to go there.
Of course, since it’s a Terry Gilliam film, this doesn’t entirely pay off, other than to establish him as wiser, more alert and more courageous than the bandits. “Why did all those people have to die?” Kevin asks the Supreme Being at the end, after a battle royale ends with a deus ex machina. “Something about free will,” answers the Creator. Of course, the very end of the film is even darker and funnier.
The idea of a children’s film where the parents blew up was not possible. We had a screening in Fresno, California. It was one of those NRG screening where they hand out the cards and you fill in [your reactions]. It gives the audience a chance to have power over the filmmaker and they really grasp that moment. Something was wrong with the print and it went through the wrong sound system so the first at least third of the film was garbled. People were leaving. On the questionnaire, there were all these questions. One of the questions was ‘What was your favorite part of the film?’ and one of the answers was ‘The end.’ I took the cards home, because it’s very nice to read them because you see the handwriting. You can see the anger, you can see the joy of the person writing this stuff. It was clear that because of this terrible sound system and so many people leaving that the part they liked best about the film was the end. It was over is what they meant. But when you looked at the statistics the next day, the part of the film that was most loved about the film was the end because of the parents blowing up! So I won and got the parents blowing up!
Wikipedia notes that the band of dwarves match up neatly to the Monty Python troupe.
What have you seen?
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