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  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
  • Audio commentary by director Terry Gilliam, cowriter/actor Michael Palin, and actors John Cleese, David Warner, and Craig Warnock
  • Time Bandits scrapbook
  • Original theatrical trailer

Time Bandits

1999 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Terry Gilliam
Starring: John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Ian Holm, Michael Palin, Ralph Richardson, Peter Vaughan, David Warner, David Rappaport, Kenny Baker, Jack Purvis, Mike Edmonds, Tiny Ross, Craig Warnock
1981 | 116 Minutes | Licensor: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #37 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 30, 1999
Review Date: April 11, 2012

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In Terry Gilliam's fantastic voyage through time and space, a young boy named Kevin (Craig Warnock) escapes his gadget-obsessed parents to join a band of time-traveling dwarves. Armed with a map stolen from the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson), they plunder treasure from Napoleon (Ian Holm) and Agamemnon (Sean Connery)-but the Evil Genius (David Warner) is watching their every move! Featuring a darkly playful script by Gilliam and costar Michael Palin, Time Bandits is all at once giddy fairy tale, revisionist history lesson, and satire on technology gone awry.

Forum members rate this film 6.5/10


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The Criterion Collection presents Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The image has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Criterion released the film on laserdisc only a year before they released this DVD and though I never saw that edition I have a sneaking suspicion they just ported that edition’s transfer to here, as they did with most of their early DVDs. These were usually, though not always, not terribly good and Time Bandits suffers a bit because of it.

Damage is still a bit heavy though not awfully so, littered with some scratches and large bits of debris. Colours do look pretty nice, the best I had ever seen them up to that point (later editions of the film are better) and is probably the strongest aspect to the presentation, along with the black levels which are nice and inky. The image is sharp and highly detailed for a non-anamorphic presentation, and again this was the best I had seen the film up to that point.

Unfortunately the transfer is littered with digital artifacts, possibly because of a poor port over from the laserdisc. Shimmering is a constant nuisance with quick movements and pixilation can get heavy in complicated patterns. Jagged edges can also be a noticeable problem. Zooming in on the image to fill a widescreen television only enhances its problems.

Anchor Bay would release their own “Divimax” edition, which offered an improved anamorphic transfer, and Image Entertainment released their own Blu-ray, though problematic itself, is also better than this. At the time this was the best I had seen the film, limited previously to lousy television broadcasts and VHS, but since has not aged well. There are far better options out there.


All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Even if there's not much to boast about the 2-channel surround track that comes with the film is pretty good. Dialogue comes through the fronts and sounds generally good with panning and movement occurring on occasion

Some may have issues with the accents present but the quality of the sound is still topnotch. There is no distortion or hiss or anything I found noticeable, and there’s a good amount of fidelity and range. The opening music used where the synthesizer plays sounds a little rough but I'm sure it's more because of the instrument.

The surrounds, working together, jump in once in a while for a few of the effects and music. It's not the most active mix but it's still pleasing enough for this movie and serves it well.



Supplements are unfortunately pretty weak in comparison to the other Gilliam titles in the collection.

An audio commentary, still exclusive to this DVD and the Criterion laserdisc, is included and it features Gilliam, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Craig Warnock, and David Warner but I found it ultimately dry and very unentertaining, despite the usually energetic Gilliam. While Gilliam still has plenty to say (though never reaches the flying-about-the-room effect he had in the track for Brazil), I found that the track as a whole pretty by-the-numbers and even a little dull. I was hoping maybe other members, such as Cleese and Palin, would add some levity, but not really, taking the thing probably far more seriously than they should (though this shouldn’t be a huge surprise since even on the tracks for Monty Python films they still take the whole endeavor far too seriously.) The track is packed, though, cutting back and forth between participants, covering the production and development in great detail, but it felt quite unsatisfying. Ultimately, considering the film and the participants, I was a bit let down by it.

And to show that this was really a laserdisc pasted onto DVD (probably only released to lead to their Brazil DVD) you get a scrapbook gallery. But instead of something you can scan through by pressing the arrows on your remote, like most DVDs do, you get a montage of photos and a couple motion segments. All I found of use were videos of the effects, but it only made me want a documentary of some sort instead of this.

And that's it for big stuff. Everything else is pretty standard.There is a rather amusing, but eventually annoying trailer, which wouldn't make me rush out to see it and an insert with a nice short essay by Bruce Eder, which actually makes me wish he somehow participated in the commentary.

Unfortunately that's it. I don't mind if I only get a few supplements, as long as their good (check out the cheapie Criterion disc The Most Dangerous Game, which only has an hour long film and no supplements except for the outstanding commentary). I found these supplements disappointing.



This is beyond a mediocre release. Though it was the best presentation I had seen of the film at the time it has not aged well at all and has been surpassed in quality since. The transfer’s issues are far more noticeable and distracting now and the supplements feel weak. Anchor Bay released a special edition DVD of the film themselves, which offered an improved anamorphic transfer and more supplements including a documentary, though the Criterion commentary is still missing. Image Entertainment also released the film on Blu-ray. The only supplements on that edition are a trailer and a brief interview with Gilliam (again, no Criterion commentary) and the transfer has its own problems (it’s interlaced for starters) but in terms of picture quality it’s still far better than Criterion’s DVD.

Though the commentary is still unique to this edition and may be the only thing of interest to some, this edition is for Criterion completest only, as there are far better editions out there, even if they’re problematic themselves.

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