Time Bandits, a film about time travelling dwarfs but not necessarily the kind an 11 year old might expect.
Released in 1981 Time Bandits was created for a generation of kids very different from todays. A generation less technologically aware and perhaps more sensitive to extremes of violence and emotion, but how would a modern 11 year old view this cult classic.
I talked to my younger brother, Oscar, who is 11 and well versed in the worlds of The Hunger Games, The Hobbit and Iron Man.
So what did you think of Time Bandits?
When you said dwarves were in the movie I thought you meant Hobbit type dwarves traveling through time! It was a bit weird . . . it’s confusing, like at the end when his parents just die and that’s the end! That was sad. I liked the bit before they touch the “evil”, when Kevin is rescued by the fireman (Sean Connery). But I didn’t like it when his parents died.
So what was your favourite bit?
The big fight at the end! The setting was all the bits from his room, his Lego and stuff made into a stone castle, that was cool.
That’s something it takes an 11 year old mind to work out I think!
No I’m just a genius!!
Would you recommend Time Bandits to a friend?
Probably, but it’s not their kind of film really! They want blood and people shooting each other with AK47s. Lots of people die, but there’s not a lot of blood really. My friends want blood splashing on the screen, but it had a really good story.
It’s not a film for every child, maybe younger children. Children getting older, round my age, don’t tend to watch films at home; more MW 3 game footage on youtube.
I think kids around 9 or 10 would enjoy it most; younger kids might get a bit bored because they wouldn’t understand it. They might get excited if they thought it was ‘battle-axe’ (Hobbit) dwarves but then they might get disappointed and not watch.
How do you think it compares to more modern films?
Well I didn’t realise it was old; I genuinely thought it was new. Well I realised when I saw the floating head (of the creator) but, no, the story and the acting was great! Better than the acting in Pacific Rim actually!
The copy that we watched had been digitally remastered. What did you think of the effects?
Well apart from the floating head the film looked new! If they released it in the cinemas again I think people would go and see it. The effects looked good but maybe they could release this one for people who don’t want the film to change, and then one with all new CGI for kids. Like one where the head actually looks like a head, like a real face – then I think more children would go see it!
Oh the big man with the ship on his head was awesome! So strange but cool!
The director Terry Gilliam is famous for his strange films. Do you think you would seek out more to watch?
Yeah definitely – you don’t really get films that random now!
So what did you think about the end?
I didn’t like it when his parents died. Maybe the creator could bring them back, like, if there was a second film, but I guess Kevin wanted to live with Sean Connery when he was Agamemnon anyway, so maybe he could go find him!
Would you like to see a sequel?
Yeah!! Although Jurassic Park 2 & 3 weren’t very good! Maybe Kevin could go find the dwarves again? But they were really funny so they could be in a film on their own! I would definitely watch that!
So does Time Bandits stand up with today’s kids? Well according to Oscar, yes! A child who was more than a little jealous of Kevin’s satchel and polaroid camera, but maybe not so much the kids glued to their blood soaked PlayStation games. For a generation supposedly desensitised to violence, he was surprisingly worried about the fate of poor Kevin’s parents. Worrying about how and where Kevin would go next, conversely he was slightly more upset when the dog dies than when Figit, one of the dwarves, is crushed by a falling column.
When discussing the dwarves in the film, it became clear that Oscar was very concerned about the political correctness of the film, worrying about calling the actors dwarves, and concerned about their treatment in the film. When I explained that dwarf is not a derogatory term, and that the film is in fact very PC, not once making light of the actors small stature, he was visibly relieved. This distraction with political correctness is admirable but ultimately confusing for kids, unsure of what is and isn’t acceptable or offensive.
Time has indeed moved on from when Time Bandits was made, the CGI is perhaps no longer as impressive, but the story and the comedy is more than alive. While when it was released Sean Connery’s reveal as Agamemnon would have prompted exclamations of “It’s James Bond!”; today it’s more like “It’s Indiana Jones’ dad!. Frankly the fact that the reveal of an actor 20 plus years on provokes any reaction at all is very impressive, and a testament to the films acting pedigree. While my resident 11 year old had heard of Monty Python, it was only Michael Palin that he really recognised as “the traveling guy”.
So Time Bandits, especially the new remastered release, is well worth showing to your kids. But be warned, the mystery of whether or not young Kevin dreamed the whole thing might still be, as Oscar put it, “messing with my mind” long after the film ends.
The new digitally remastered Time Bandits is now out on DVD.
Charlotte Keeys, @jackanoryreview, www.jackanoryreviews.wordpress.com