Friday, November 8, 2013

Time Bandits (1981)

Supreme Being: Return what you have stolen from me!  Return the map!  It will bring you great danger.  Stop... Now!
Kevin, a young boy, happens upon a band of dwarves one evening as they've entered his bedroom.  Time travelers who have stolen a map that directs them from one dimension in time to another, Kevin finds himself forced into their adventure as the Supreme Being appears and demands the map, cautioning them that if they don't stop, great danger awaits them all!
Direct from Embassy Pictures and with scenes shot throughout the UK, Spain, and Morocco, it goes without saying that audiences throughout the UK would be the first to see "Time Bandits" on July 13, 1981.  Ireland would get to view the film next on October 9th, and then the film got its US-wide release the following November 6th as it was released to 821 screens.  Costing an estimate $5 million to make, "Time Bandits" surpassed that on its opening weekend alone as it brought in over $6.5 million.  It didn't have any premiering competitive films that weekend at the Box Office, so that probably helped its success.  Before the year's end, this fun, exciting and creative adventure earned over $42.3 million at the Box Office, earning it the #10 spot in the 1981 rankings.
Directed by Terry Gilliam who previously gave the world "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Jabberwocky", "Time Bandits" was nominated for 5 awards at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films Awards ceremony which included Best Special Effects, Best Writing, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Craig Warnock who played the young boy, Kevin), and Best International Film.  It didn't win any of those awards, however it did win the President's Award which is a great honor.
Time Bandits had an outstanding cast which included many cameos by such actors and actresses as John Cleese as Robin Hood, Sean Connery as King Agamemnon, Shelley Duvall as Dame Pansy, Katherine Helmond as Mrs. Ogre, Ian Holm as Napoleon, Michael Palin as Vincent, Ralph Richarson as the Supreme Being, Peter Vaughan as Winston the Ogre, David Warner as Evil, David Rappaport as Randall, Kenny Baker as Fidgit, and Craig Warnock as Kevin (Sean, Shelley, and Michael played multiple roles).  This was Craig Warnock's debut film.  He only did one more film after "Time Bandits", but then abandoned the business altogether soon after.
Here are some other bit of information you might light to know about the family-friendly "Time Bandits"...
1.  Young Craig Warnock, who played Kevin, won the role after a wide search for the right child actor. An agent had seen Warnock's brother and sent him to an audition.  The fact that Craig went with him was merely a coincidence.  Director Terry Gilliam, however, took more interest in Craig than his sibling, noting that the young man seemed rather intelligent yet aloof and quiet, as opposed to the stereotypical "cute" little boy.
2.  Jonathan Pryce was offered the role of the Evil Genius but was unavailable owing to his commitment to "Loophole".  Pryce got the lead role in Terry Gilliam's next film "Brazil".
3.  49-year-old Ian Holm plays the 26-year-old Napoléon Bonaparte.
4.  In the original script, King Agamemnon was introduced as: "The warrior took off his helmet, revealing someone that looks exactly like Sean Connery, or an actor of equal but cheaper stature."  To Terry Gilliam's surprise, the script ended up in Connery's hands.  He expressed interest in the part and his agent approached them for the role.
5.  Gilda Radner was considered for the role of Mrs. Ogre.
6.  Ruth Gordon was cast as Mrs. Ogre but was injured before production.  Therefore, Katherine Helmond was casted.  Originally slated to play the role in heavy make-up to look like her husband, but then decided it would be funnier if Mrs. Ogre was an ordinary person.  Director Terry Gilliam agreed.
7.  On the wall of Kevin's bedroom can be seen a drawing of Dr. Bertram X. Fegg, a character created by Michael Palin and Terry Jones for their "Dr. Fegg" books, drawn by Martin Honeysett.
8.  In the screenplay, when the Supreme Being chases after Kevin and the gang, He initially appeared as a "classical" depiction of God: robes, white beard, etc.  A picture of this version of the Supreme Being appears in a published book of the screenplay, suggesting the Supreme Being scenes were filmed as written, but ultimately the "classical" depiction was replaced with the "floating head" version of the Supreme Being seen in the film.
9.  According to the DVD commentary, Terry Gilliam shot the film in low camera angles throughout in order to give the audience the perspective of a dwarf or a child, the heroes of "Time Bandits".
10.  In Anne Rice's third novel in her Vampire Chronicles, "The Queen of the Damned", Daniel (the interviewer from "Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles") and vampire Armand see "Time Bandits" in the cinema together.  Armand finds the scene where the Time Bandits sing for Napoléon Bonaparte in the battle-ravaged theatre so funny that he laughs uncontrollably every time he sees it and goes back repeatedly to re-watch it.
11.  Whilst filming the sequence in Sherwood Forest, in which the Time Bandits inadvertently crash into Vincent (Michael Palin) and Pansy's (Shelley Duvall) carriage, Terry Gilliam had scaffolding built for the actors to jump off.  When directing the scene, Gilliam instructed that they were to jump in such a way as to land around Palin and Duvall without actually falling on to them.  To better illustrate what he meant, Gilliam then climbed to the top of the scaffolding and without hesitation jumped off, only to plummet directly on top of Shelley Duvall.  One would think that would fall under the "Do as I say, not as I do" category.
12.  Michael Palin wrote the role of Robin Hood for himself, but John Cleese wanted to play him.  In the script it said "To be played like the Duke of Kent", a reference to Duke Edward Windsor of Kent going to football/soccer matches and shaking hands with the players, asking them questions.
13.  The Evil Genius's apparatus on his head was influenced by H.R. Giger's work on the film "Alien".
14.  The gold masks of Agamemnon's priests are replicas of a king's deathmask, found by Heinrich Schliemann at Mycenae in 1876, now on display at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
15.  According to Terry Gilliam, David Rappaport believed he was given his part for his acting ability alone, without size being a contributing factor, and as a result, did not socialize with his co-stars.  During the Invisible Barrier scene when the other bandits retaliate against Randall, it was basically the actors expressing their true inner frustrations with Rappaport.
16.  When the Evil Genius has captured the Time Bandits in the cage, he walks up the stairs.  It is not David Warner but a double, because Warner suffers from vertigo.
17.  The cowboys, Greek archers, tank, spaceship (Micronauts Mobile Exploration Lab), and all of the attackers that fight 'Evil' at the end are actually the counterparts of the same toys seen in Kevin's room; in some shots as Kevin runs through Evil's fortress, giant 'Lego' blocks can clearly seen as part of the fortress itself.
18.  The leader of the cowboys is dubbed, and is not credited in the end credits.
19.  The suit worn by Ralph Richardson is his own.  I suppose when you're only in one scene, why bother with the wardrobe department?
20.  Sean Connery suggested that he appear as one of the firefighters near the end of the film.
21.  When "Time Bandits" was released in other countries around the world, it was released under different names.  In Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Mexico, it was called "The Bandits of Time".  In Finland and France, "Bandits, bandits!"  And in Greece, "Wonderful Robbers and Koulouvachata of History". 
22.  In 1996, Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeown collaborated on a script for "Time Bandits 2", bringing back most of the original cast, with the exceptions of David Rappaport and Tiny Ross (Vermin) who had passed away a few years before, and owing to Jack Purvis (Wally) being paralyzed from a car accident, his character was written to be in a similar state.  But following the death of Purvis, the project was shelved indefinitely.
And now you know.
Director Terry Gilliam once said, "I won't be getting an Academy Award - I'll predict that - ever.  And somehow, my life will be no less for that!"  That's completely okay, and it's quite admirable.  Terry was into film-making for the craft of it, not for what awards he could receive for his achievements.  In return, he gave many generations many films to enjoy time and time again.
One last thing... Kenny Baker who played the role of Fidgit had a few roles before his role in "Time Bandits".  Most notably, that of R2-D2 in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" (back then it was simply known as "Star Wars").  He would go on to be in the following "Star Wars" films as well, including episodes I, II, and III.
Feel free to enjoy the following pictures: First the memorable characters, then over 150 picture stills from the film itself arranged on chronological order. 

Now the chronological pictures stills... 


















Kevin: Mom! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!
[Kevin's parents explode]
Kevin: Mom? Dad?

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