Study Guide

Time Bandits Vincent and Pansy (Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall)

Vincent and Pansy (Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall)

Never has the phrase "twu wuv" felt more appropriate than with these two, who show up in two different incarnations in the film and are named Vincent and Pansy both times.

First, our lovers appear in the Middle Ages, on their way to France after a long period of being apart. Then, they show up again on the Titanic, still upper-class, still very much in love, and still dealing with the fact that they're really two very silly people.

Their idiocy stems from their attempts to add some poetry to their love, to frame it in the flowery words of true poetry and elevate it to something fantastic. They don't have to do that, of course. Love is love no matter how gilded the language, and while they're clearly quite happy to be together, their attempts to blow it all into painfully self-conscious poetry come across as foolish in the extreme.

To add insult to injury, Vincent seems to be suffering from a series of embarrassing—and very unromantic—personal problems that make it really tough to make like Cyrano de Bergerac. He fights his way through as best he can, but it definitely throws a bucket of water on the romance stuff, like when he tries to woo his ladylove on the carriage ride to the shore.

VINCENT: Oh, good mistress Pansy, I could not have ridden faster. Four horses have I exhausted this day from Nottingham.

PANSY: Oh, the way you leapt to my chamber, so full of...manliness!

VINCENT: I could scarce restrain the rushing of my feet. These 12 long years have been like chains that bound me.

PANSY: And the personal problem?

VINCENT: Much, much better. And now we will ride full tilt to Dover, and there embark for France.

PANSY: Oh, you don't have to wear the "special."

VINCENT: No, no, I don't have to wear the "special" anymore.

It's tough to spout poetry at your ladylove when you've got a boil on the end of your nose, or when you're periodically stricken with some kind of seizure that requires huge amounts of fruit.

Like the other cameos in the film, we suspect that these two are supposed to remind us how foolish we all are, and that perhaps we shouldn't take ourselves quite so seriously. Nowhere is this truer than when you're in love, which is why these two keep fumbling about.

Time Bandits doesn't mock the love of these two, to be sure. It mocks their efforts to make it larger than life. They're punished because they're silly and don't realize it, suggesting that a little more humility and the ability to laugh at themselves might have served them a lot better.

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