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Time Bandits (1981)

[Time Bandits] Time Bandits
Handmade Films, 1981
Rated: PG
Running Time: 116 minutes
Director/Producer: Terry Gilliam
Amazon.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Amazon.co.uk: PAL VHS
TowerRecords.com: NTSC DVD, NTSC VHS
Recommended by: Greg Slade

Since so many alumni of Monty Python's Flying Circus were involved in its creation, Time Bandits is almost like a Monty Python film. It's full of utter looniness. (The Robin Hood scene, with John Cleese as a polite, well-groomed Robin Hood in green tights, surrounded by the kind of uncouth, violent, unkempt ruffians as the Merry Men were actually more likely to be, was inspired.) Just about everybody and everything comes under satiric fire in this work: God, parents, Robin Hood, and on and on. There is one glaring exception: the only adult with a grain of sense in his head is King Agamemnon. It would appear that enough of the Python bunch's (presumably Public School) education has stuck with them that they simply could not bring themselves to skewer a Greek hero.

Yet unlike a Monty Python film, it comes dangerously close to saying something important before backing off into silliness again. At one point, the little boy who is the point of view character asks the Supreme Being why he let so many bad things happen. One of his Time Bandit companions tries to hush him, "Don't say that! You might as well ask Him why He created Evil in the first place!" "Yes, that's right," says the little boy. "Why did you create Evil in the first place?" "Ah," says the Supreme Being, and walks behind a pillar for a moment to think. Then He comes out again and says in a vaguely confused voice, "I think it has something to do with free will." So close, and yet so far. Still, if nothing else, that bit is an indictment of Christians for failing to address the problem of evil in a sufficiently understandable way. (Perhaps because so many Christians are afraid to wrestle with the issue themselves.)

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