Apple plans to turn Terry Gilliam’s 1981 fantasy film Time Bandits into a television series, according to a story reported on Deadline. The cult film follows an 11-year-old boy named Kevin as he’s chased by the “Supreme Being” for helping a group of six time-traveling dwarfs who are seeking treasure.
Kevin discovers a time hole in his closet, and the six dwarfs appear, with a map charting all the holes in the fabric of time.
The movie starred Craig Warnock as Kevin, John Cleese as Robin Hood, Ian Holm as Napoleon Bonaparte, and Sean Connery as King Agamemnon, as well as Shelly Duvall, Ralph Richardson, Katherine Helmond, Michael Palin, Peter Vaughn, and David Warner.
“This isn’t the first time the idea’s been raised — Gilliam himself suggested such a series, which would presumably build on the episodic nature of the film, was in the works, potentially as part of his old content deal with Amazon — but it does seem a little more concrete this time around,” reported the AVClub.
The series will be developed as a co-production between Anonymous Content, Paramount Television, and Media Rights Capital. Gilliam will be a non-writing executive producer alongside Anonymous Content and MRC.
It was not just the story but the style of Time Bandits that won the film its following.
“The real challenge for the project, of course, will be matching the original’s tone, a mixture of bitter cynicism, screwball comedy, and outright wonder that was a key component of what made Gilliam such a visionary in his prime,” wrote AVClub.
When the film was released, it received mixed reviews. Roger Ebert wrote, “These historical locations are jammed with character and detail. This is the only live-action movie I’ve seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine, with kings and swordsmen and wide-eyed little boys and fearsome beasts. But the movie’s repetitive, monotonous in the midst of all this activity. Basically, it’s just a kid and six dwarfs racing breathlessly through one set piece after another, shouting at one another.”
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Vincent Canby of the New York Times liked it a little better, writing, “Time Bandits is a cheerfully irreverent lark – part fairy tale, part science fiction and part comedy. It’s a fantastic though wobbly flight through history and legend….the dwarfs are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill little people. They’re more like the angry, liberated ids of the crowd Snow White hung out with.”
Time Bandits was written by Gilliam and Michael Palin, another member of Monty Python. Gilliam wanted to make an entire film from a child’s point of view.
Reportedly no studio wanted to make the film, so they made a deal with Handmade Films. a small production company that former Beatles guitarist Harrison formed with Denis O’Brien to make the Monty Python film Life of Brian, directed by Gilliam. The company made many other films, including Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, and was then disbanded for financial problems.
George Harrison was said to have been frustrated with Gilliam’s stubbornness and told him that he reminded him of John Lennon in that he was so difficult and “bolshie.” Gilliam noted that he took most pride in this than anything else Harrison had ever said to him.
Many of the cast were eager to work with Gilliam. In the screenplay, the original description of King Agamemnon was “The warrior took off his helmet, revealing someone that looks exactly like Sean Connery, or an actor of equal but cheaper stature.”
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The filmmakers did not know it, but Connery’s agent heard about the script and gave it to him to read. The actor wanted to be in the film, amused by the description, and his agent contacted Gilliam. Thus another essential piece to the Time Bandits puzzle was put into place.
Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.com.