Notes from ningyo editions studio and gallery

Lobby Card #2: Time Bandits

david curcio

Lobby Card: Time Bandits, 2013 15 x 11.5, drypoint, woodcut, colored pencil and embroidered border

I was nine years old when I saw Time Bandits, and what I saw were arms being ripped off then thrown into a giant pile of other arms; old ladies getting punched in the face with full and brutal force; a man hanging himself by accident; a villain who destroys his obsequious, moronic sidekicks for the most naive infractions.  And of course I was riveted, albeit with one foot cocked for a quick escape should things get really ugly.  And they did, right up to the final shot when our young child-hero’s parents are blown to bits by a smoldering piece of Evil, but I never even considered leaving, even to take a piss.  This story spoke to children in a way Superman or Raiders of the Lost Ark never could, because, unlike the messages inherent in those films, we really weren’t certain that things would turn out alright.  And of course they never quite do.

Plenty of brilliant details went over my head at that time, for Time Bandits is a film “for all ages” in the truest sense of the word.  It is a tale about technology as a malevolent force infringing upon our humanity, lurking in a dark and dank place until its time is at hand, fully aware that we humans will eat it up and never stop demanding more.  Of course, that time has sadly long come to pass (says the blogger).

In Kevin’s household, his mother and father obsess over the newest appliances that their neighbors have acquired and that they must obtain, while all the while a game show titled Your Money or Your Life (which makes Wheel of Fortune look like mid-period Bergman) plays on the television.  The furniture is covered in plastic, preserved for an unspecified time that will never come.  Kevin doesn’t pay attention to any of this, preferring to be alone with his books, to gain knowledge of the past, of the world.  Be careful what you wish for.

A group of rogue dwarfs who have stolen a map of the universe from their employer The Supreme Being (God) stumble into Kevin’s bedroom and time travel ensues.  All the while The Evil Genius, locked away in his Fortress of Darkness, his minions covered in plastic like so many couches and chairs from Kevin’s house, works to gain understanding of  computers  which he knows will control the world and finally put him in charge.

david curcio

David Warner as The Evil Genius.

As The Evil Genius, David Warner shows a single-minded sense of purpose tinged with desperation and deep insecurity.   For this devil, evil is rather impotent, and requires a tool to make his work possible.  All the while he passes time like an adolescent girl, shouting to the void of his mistreatment, his contempt of nature, the unfairness of it all.  We’ve all been there, and no, life is not fair.  When the action returns to Kevin’s house and it is confirmed that this was no dream,  our young hero desperately tells his parents not to touch the bit of evil lurking in the toaster oven (mercifully rescued from the fire that woke them up).  Within a split second he finds himself an orphan, and we realize that life is also something we endure alone.


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