Time Bandits on 4K Blu-ray – The DVDfever Review – Terry Gilliam, David Warner

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Time Bandits is now out in a 4K Special Edition release, and it’s still one of my all-time favourite films. I grew up with it and it captured my imagination.

I love anything to do with time travel and this was combined with the fact that it allowed a young boy (Craig Warnock as Kevin) to escape his dull life and seek adventure throughout all time and space – something any similar lad would sell their soul for.

And while the 2013 Blu-ray (released almost exactly 10 years ago) was scanned in at 2K resolution, this new release states:

    “The original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution, and the film was restored in 4K resolution and graded in HDR10 and Dolby Vision at Silver Salt Restoration, London. The restoration was supervised and approved by Terry Gilliam. All materials for this restoration were made available by Handmade Films.”

There are some elements of background grain and the odd fleck on the print here and there, but as the disc goes on to explain, these are part of the original print and not a fault of this transfer, the same as with the Blu-ray. Similarly, when the map appears at the very start of the film, the lush blue colour was outstandingly beautiful on the Blu-ray and had never looked that gorgeous before. This time, it blows me away even more!

I’ve given the picture a score of 10/10 because of this fact and that there’s nothing to detract from your viewing, and that if you wanted to rid the print of every single last blemish, you’d have to find a way to get the original print from when it was mastered, say, by going back in time… oh, hang on…

Time Bandits & Weird Science 4K Blu-ray Limited Editions! Full Unboxing! (Arrow Video Releases) – DVDfeverGames

In the early 80s, everyone was obsessed with new technology, especially Kevin’s parents (David Daker and Sheila Fearn – who I didn’t realise was in Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? until that was shown again on BBC4, recently) who, like a lot of people, were also so afraid of spoiling their new three-piece suite that they left it wrapped in the plastic packaging in which it arrived. Those are the sort of parents who need a good slap just for that. Enjoy your new furniture! They also need a slap for the fact they basically neglect their child by ignoring anything he has to say and only feeding him takeaway meals out of foil ‘plates’.

Frustrated by his home life, he goes to bed and is woken by a knight on horsebreak breaking through the wardrobe door, smashing up his room and disappearing off into the nearby forest… Pardon? Exactly. A moment later, it’s all back to normal. Either he’s got an incredible imagination, or there’s some really weird stuff going on…

The next night, he’s visited, via the same entrance, by a group of dwarves who turn up out of nowhere, mistake Kevin for the ‘Supreme Being’, whose map they stole, and then inadvertently end up taking Kevin with them just as the map’s owner makes an appearance to reclaim his property. Their intention is to travel from one place in time to another, using the map to steal riches from foreign dignitaries and escape with the loot before they get caught, sometimes back to a moment in time before the person they robbed was even born!

Their ultimate goal, however, is to go in search of the most fabulous object in the world…

Gilliam’s films occasionally don’t work for me, but at other times everything comes together perfectly –
Twelve Monkeys
was an example of the latter – and Time Bandits is faultless. I couldn’t even single out one member of the cast as better than the rest because it’s an ensemble piece and – with different actors in their place – it just wouldn’t be the same. Hence, I can’t begin to imagin why Taika Waititi is remaking it into a TV series. I know I’ll end up watching it, but I just hope it’s not as much of a mistep as HBO’s The Last Of Us.

However, like with the 2013 Blu-ray, if I had one quibble about the subtitles it would be near the end when David Daker’s exclamation, “My super deluxe teasmaid!” becomes “My super deluxe steamer!” – Yep, 10 years on, and this error is still present.

Time Bandits

The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio and in 2160p high defintion, and I’ve already gone into detail about the quality.

For the record, I’m watching on Optoma P2 Ultra Short Throw projector with a PS5.

The sound has a DTS HD 5.1 option, but while I selected that, I didn’t spot any scenes where it felt like it had been used, except for when the Supreme Being appears in ‘face’ form, and it mostly felt like I was listening to a standard stereo soundtrack.

The extras on this disc are as follows – most of which are in HD, too.

  • Chasing Time Bandits: An interview with Terry Gilliam (20:07): The director talks about how this film came about because he couldn’t get Brazil off the ground; how Craig Warnock was rather accidentally cast – and note that he hasn’t really acted since; the Pythons who star alongside; the cast and crew; producer Denis O’Brien’s insistence to get some George Harrison songs in there – although Gilliam says they just kept the final song over the end credits and about how the song itself was a series of notes to Gilliam, from Harrison, about the film and Gilliam’s behaviour; and The clever way in which the film retained its downbeat ending.

    With the Blu-ray, there were no chapters. This time, there’s 8 – which is great – especially since it’s broken up into a number of definitive sections. Sadly, there are still no subtitles.

    Watching this again, he talks about a potential remake, but without dwarves… As we know, the forthcoming Snow White remake does abandon the concept of seven dwarves. It seems to have all manner of problems surrounding it, but hey, when 2024 comes round, we can all go to the cinema and have a good laugh at it if nothing else.

  • Writing the film that dare not speak its name (16:05): Michael Palin interviewed in similar style, and this extra takes its name from how Terry Gilliam originally referred to the film’s synopsis when he presented it to Palin and wanted him to help flesh it out. Topics include whether this was considered a Python or a Gilliam film, its success in the U.S. and casting David Warner as Evil. There are 8 chapters.

  • The Effects of Time Bandits (15:28): Kent Houston, part of the optical effects team, goes into detail about how the effects were carried out. Given that he’s just talking and there’s no images to accompany what he’s talking about – early on, some of it went over my head a bit. And it was a bit distracting that he’s sat by a large window, in front of a street that’s been dug up and, unfortunately, just as a City of Westminster refuse truck is going about its business…

    He talks about effects such as the blue line at the edge of the time holes and the head of the Supreme Being.

  • Playing Evil: David Warner (8:43): One of my favourite actors gets to talk about this iconic role, and he received an interesting gift from George Harrison.

  • The Costumes of Time Bandits (13:21): Costume Designer James Acheson shows off all the sketches of the outfits for the characters to wear, going into detail about them and his time working on the film, as well as discussing how Time Bandits is perceived today.

  • The Look of Time Bandits (10:43): Production designer Milly Burns talks about meeting Terry Gilliam and how you can be economical with the sets when you have a director like him who knows the vision prior to building the sets and how he’s going to film them to get the full effect, rather than building massive sets which get hardly used and cost a fortune. She also mentions ideas for sets which never made it to the big screen.

  • From Script to Screen (8:33): Milly Burns takes us through the process, and how it’s an organic one, going into detail about how Morocco doubled for Ancient Greece and why it was an ideal place to film. And for Craig Warnock, we know from earlier in the extras that this was the first scene filmed. Imagine your first ever scene in a film and you’re starring alongside Sean Connery!

  • Trailer (3:09): One of the best trailers I’ve ever seen for anything. Presented in 4:3, this is Monty Python doing a spoof pretending that it’s being voice over by Orson Welles.

Unfortunately, since the Blu-ray release, one extra did escape. Why, I don’t know:

  • Restoration Demonstration (2:43): Digital restoration of any damage on the original print on a frame-by-frame basis, along with colour grading, i.e. restoring the colour that has faded.

However, as shown in the unboxing, there’s a double-sided poster, a 16-page booklet, and a reversible sleeve for the 4K Blu-ray box. I just wish there were two copies of the poster, so I could display both, or if they were able to make these available, I’d definitely get hold of a second!

The main menu features clips from the film mixed in with a segment of the main theme tune. There are subtitles in English, and 12 chapters. As always, I wish we got more.

Time Bandits is out now on 4K Blu-ray Boxset and Blu-ray.

Time Bandits – Official Trailer – Arrow Video




Running time: 116 minutes
Year: 1981
Chapters: 12
Distributor: Arrow Video
Cat.no: FCD2429
Released: August 28th 2023
Picture: 2160p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD 5.1
Languages: English
Subtitles: English
Widescreen: 1.85:1 (Spherical)
Disc Format: BD50

Director: Terry Gilliam
Producer: Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin
Music: Mike Moran

Kevin: Craig Warnock
Randall: David Rappaport
Fidgit: Kenny Baker
Strutter: Malcolm Dixon
Og: Mike Edmonds
Wally: Jack Purvis
Vermin: Tiny Ross
Robin Hood: John Cleese
King Agamemnon: Sean Connery
Pansy: Shelley Duvall
Mrs. Ogre: Katherine Helmond
Napoleon: Ian Holm
Vincent: Michael Palin
Supreme Being: Ralph Richardson
Winston the Ogre: Peter Vaughan
Evil: David Warner
Kevin’s Father: David Daker
Kevin’s Mother: Sheila Fearn
Compere: Jim Broadbent
Reginald: John Young
Beryl: Myrtle Devenish
Knight/Hussar: Brian Bowes
Lucien: Terence Bayler
Neguy: Preston Lockwood
Theatre Manager: Charles McKeown
Puppeteer: David Leland
The Great Rumbozo: John Hughman
Robber Leader: Derrick O’Connor
2nd Robber: Neil McCarthy
3rd Robber: Declan Mulholland
Arm Wrestler: Peter Jonfield
Robert: Derek Deadman
Benson: Jerold Wells
Cartwright: Roger Frost
Bull-headed Warrior: Winston Dennis
Greek Fighting Warrior: Del Baker
Greek Queen: Juliette James
Giant: Ian Muir
Troll Father: Mark Holmes
Supreme Being (voice): Tony Jay
Supreme Being’s Face: Edwin Finn