16th Sep2013

‘Time Bandits’ Blu-ray Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Ralph Richardson, Peter Vaughan, David Warner, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Malcolm Dixon, Mike Edmonds, Jack Purvis, Tiny Ross | Written by Terry Gilliam, Michael Palin | Directed by Terry Gilliam

Time-Bandits-dwarves

Time Bandits was first released in 1981. A family adventure film that sported a fantastic and massive cast of names, with the likes of Sean Connery, John Cleese, Shelley Duvall, Ian Holm and Michael Palin, among others. It was like a fantastical family film with the cast of Monty Python.

Director and another former Python, Terry Gilliam, who went on to direct such incredible cinematic events as Brazil, Twelve Monkeys and Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas was behind the camera here, much like he was in the Monty Python movies and it feels very similar to his previous work in many ways. Surreal and at times incredibly weird, Time Bandits just feels like a Gilliam film.

This release, put out on Blu-ray by Arrow Video in both standard edition and limited edition steelbook, looks and sounds fabulous. The colours pop and the clarity is something to behold. Arrow does a remarkable job at fixing up these older films and giving them a new lease of life. For those who don’t know, the story of the film follows a young boy who goes on a crazy, wacky adventure through time. He travels with a pack of treasure hunting dwarves who have stolen a map and can travel into various historical periods. We view their various mishaps and escapades from then on. Thoroughly entertaining, like only family adventure films from the 1980’s can be, it is a two-hour motion picture that feels, to me at least, a lot shorter.

Creative and with funny and wonderful cameos from well-loved faces, Time Bandits is a great fantasy film that is equally enthralling as it is hilarious. It might not be the greatest work of Mr Gilliam, but it sure isn’t far off. I love to see films like this released and re-mastered, because, quite frankly, we don’t get “new” movies like this anymore. In the same way we won’t see a film with the same charm as the first Star Wars, Time Bandits is in the same bracket of cinematic releases. A film from a time long past that still gives the viewer the same wide eyed entertainment today as it did 32 years ago.

Featuring a plethora of new interviews and featurettes as well as a collector’s booklet, the new release of Time Bandits is well worth checking out, for existing fans as well as those discovering the movie for the first time. Special features on this release include: a brand new 2k-resolution restoration of the film from the original camera negative, approved by director and co-writer Terry Gilliam; Chasing Time Bandits: A new interview with Terry Gilliam; Writing the Film that Dares Not Speak its Name: A new interview in which Michael Palin discusses co-writing and acting in Time Bandits; The Effects of Time Bandits: A new interview in which Kent Houston, founder of the Peerless Camera Company, discusses Time Bandits’ optical effects; Playing Evil: A new featurette in which actor David Warner remembers producer George Harrison and playing Evil in Time Bandits; The Costumes of Time Bandits: A new interview with costume designer James Acheson; The Look of Time Bandits: A new interview with production designer Milly Burns; From Script to Screen – A new animated featurette in which Milly Burns takes us through her production notebooks, locations photographs and storyboards revealing how twentieth century Morocco was transformed into Ancient Greece; Original Trailer; Restoration Demonstration; and a Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic James Oliver.

Time Bandits is released by Arrow Video and is out now.

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