Time Bandits is 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 this has been out on Blu-ray before, this release has been restored from the original 35mm camera negative elements and the original magnetic tracks. The film was scanned and graded in 2K resolution* and the restoration work was carried out using a combination of software tools and techniques. Throughout the process, care was taken to ensure that the film’s original texture, details and grain structure remained unaffected by digital processing.
(*A high-defintion TV has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 – i.e. 1080p, while 2K is 2048 x 1080, which retains the vertical resolution but has 128 more pixels of width. Some films are shot digitally in 4K, which is four times the amount of resolution of a high-definition screen, while 8K is 16 times HD – about as close to the human eye’s quality as it gets. Here endeth the techy lesson)
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 new transfer, a transfer which has been approved by Terry Gilliam himself. And when the map appears at the very start of the film, the lush blue colour is outstandingly beautiful. It’s never looked that gorgeous before! 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…
In the early 80s, everyone was obsessed with new technology, especially Kevin’s parents (David Daker and Sheila Fearn) 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.
And 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!”
Go to page 2 for the presentation and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.