Study Guide

Time Bandits Quotes

  • Escape

    RANDALL: We can explain everything, sir. It's not as bad as it looks. We...we just borrowed the map and...sort of got rather happy about it and...ran off in high spirits.

    Apparently, working for God isn't as great a gig as we'd hoped it might be. Why else are these little dudes so keen to get away from it?

    NAPOLEON: You are the best thing to happen to me since this whole campaign. You know I come here to conquer Italy because I thought they were all small. You know, I hear they was really tiny guys...

    Almost everyone in this movie is looking to get away from something or someone. In Napoleon's case, he's looking for people his own size...which sends him to Italy, and eventually causes him to make the dwarves his generals.

    RANDALL: You see, to be quite frank, Kevin, the fabric of the universe is far from perfect. It was a bit of a botched job, you see. We only had seven days to make it. And that's where this comes in. This is the only map of all the holes. Well, why repair them? Why not use them to get stinking rich?

    We're not sure we agree with the logic, but there's definitely no denying that the map helps. The map's primary function here seems to be as a means of escape. Don't like where you're at? Just wait for a time hole and step away from it all.

    KEVIN: You know, I never, ever want to go back.

    AGAMEMNON: Don't you want to see all your friends again?

    KEVIN: No, thanks.

    AGAMEMNON: To be in your own home, to be with your own father and mother?

    KEVIN: No.

    AGAMEMNON: Very well, then.

    Kevin doesn't talk much about his old life back in England, but with a few quick "no"s, we find out everything we need to know. He's not interested in going back, and in Agamemnon, he sees the person he's always wanted to be. That's somewhere worth escaping to.

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

    PANSY: Oh. 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. Oh, Pansy. No more worries now, Pansy.

    Pansy and Vincent are certainly keen to get away from England...though as we learn, they never quite manage it. Here, they end up being tied to a tree. In their future incarnation, they're on the Titanic, headed for America...before it hits an iceberg and sinks. No one, it seems, is able to get away in this movie, even with Vincent's personal problems—from which, we suspect, these is no escape.

    CARTWRIGHT: But why, if that's the case, are you unable to escape from this fortress?

    EVIL: That's a good question. Why have I let the Supreme Being keep me here in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness?

    ROBERT: Because you—

    EVIL: Shut up, I'm speaking rhetorically.

    ROBERT: Of course.

    EVIL: I let him keep me here in order to lull him into a false sense of security.

    ROBERT: Ah, clever, clever.

    EVIL: When I have the map, I will be free...

    The map is used as an instrument of escape for the dwarves, for Kevin, and for Evil, who clearly hasn't figured out that God will always be bigger than he is. But if the Supreme Being is always in charge of everything, is there really any escape at all, anyway?

    SUPREME BEING: Return what you have stolen from me. Return the map!

    KEVIN: There are two holes, Randall. Which one? Which one?

    RANDALL: Go, Kevin! Just get away!

    We'd just like to note that it's kind of absurd trying to escape the gaze of God, who made the whole universe and, as is eventually noted, is not entirely dim. It seems possible at this point, but the final twist shows us just how absurd the whole notion really is.

    KEVIN: Now all we need is the map.

    RANDALL: What? We don't need the map. We know where the time hole is. Let's get out of here.

    KEVIN: But Evil's got the map, Randall!

    RANDALL: Oh, damn right, he has. Last thing we want to do is see him again. Come on!

    KEVIN: But you can't leave it with him, or he'll destroy the world.

    Sometimes, escape is impossible, even when you have the means to do it. Duty and obligation can keep you in place regardless of what you'd much rather do.

    FIDGIT: Sir?


    FIDGIT: What about my friend, sir? Can he come with us?

    SUPREME BEING: No, of course not. This isn't a school outing.

    FIDGIT: But sir, he deserves something. I mean, without him...

    SUPREME BEING: Oh, don't go on about it. He's got to stay here to carry on the fight.

    There's no escaping life, it seems. Not until the big man is ready. Kevin doesn't find the escape he clearly least, not yet.

    KEVIN: Mom? Dad?

    Well, that's it for Kevin's parents. The question becomes whether that means Kevin has really escaped his dreary life. We're inclined to think that he has, and while there's probably more horrid grownup-ness headed his way, he has skills and memories from an extraordinary adventure to fall back on. That's the Supreme Being for you—giving you what you want in a way you never could have anticipated.

  • Good vs. Evil

    EVIL: No one created me! I am Evil! Evil existed long before good. I made myself. I cannot be unmade. I am all-powerful!

    He's not, of course, and we find out at the end that God most definitely made him. But his blindness on this front is one of the few weaknesses we see in him. Evil is a pretty arrogant dude, which seems to be his most defining character trait.

    EVIL: God isn't interested in technology. He cares nothing for the microchip or the silicon revolution. Look how he spends his time, 43 species of parrots! Nipples for men!

    ROBERT: Slugs?

    EVIL: Slugs! He created slugs! They can't hear. They can't speak. They can't operate machinery. Are we not in the hands of a lunatic?

    Here is a more precise definition of Evil: someone interested in technology and machines instead of living things. It's not exactly subtle, but it gets the point across.

    KEVIN: Who was that man?

    FIDGIT: That was no man. That was the Supreme Being.

    KEVIN: You mean God?

    FIDGIT: Well, we don't know him that well. We only work for him.

    Here's a little humor used to describe God. It's an old vaudeville gag, but it reminds us that you can poke fun at good from time to time. Good can take it.

    AGAMEMNON: All three are to receive summary executions today. If the queen wishes to see me, I'll be in the courts all afternoon. Remind the queen that I still rule this city.

    Agamemnon is presented as kind of an ideal hero, but as we discuss in "King Agamemnon," there's some darkness flirting around the edges of his life. Here, we catch a little glimpse of it: the politics and hard edges that he doesn't show either us or Kevin.

    RANDALL: Cheer up, Kevin. Kings aren't the only ones with money, you know.

    KEVIN: The money wasn't important to him.

    Now, here's an interesting question: is being greedy in and of itself evil? The dwarves are definitely greedy, and that's what lands the map in Evil's hands. There may not be an answer...although we certainly have our suspicions, and Kevin's lack of greed definitely speaks well to his character.

    WINSTON: You try being beastly and terrifying when you can only get one hour's sleep a night because your back hurts, and you daren't cough in case you pull a muscle.

    MRS. OGRE: But you are horrible, dear.

    WINSTON: You're just sayin' that.

    Here's another paradox. These two are clearly evil—they intend to boil the dwarves and eat them, after all—and yet they really, truly love each other. Can anyone who loves another be truly evil? And if so, how does that explain the presence of love in their lives?

    KEVIN: Yes. Why do we have to have evil?

    SUPREME BEING: Ah...I think it's something to do with free will.

    God is really good at dodging questions like this, but the more formal explanation sheds a little more light on it. Good doesn't mean anything, philosophically speaking, if we're forced to do it. We have to choose to do good, and if it is a choice, then evil has to exist by default. It's not ideal—too many of us fail the test too often—but it's the only way to make genuine good mean anything.

    SUPREME BEING: I should do something very extroverted and vengeful to you. Honestly, I'm too tired. So, I think I'll transfer you to the undergrowth department, brackens, more shrubs, that sort of thing...with a 19 percent cut in salary, backdated to the beginning of time.

    RANDALL: Oh, thank you, sir.

    SUPREME BEING: Yes, well, I am the nice one.

    He may be good, but he feels like a senile old banker sometimes. At least his punishments are of the material variety—a cut in pay—which is something the dwarves definitely respond to.

    DIANE: Honestly, Trevor, if you were half a man, you would've gone in there after the blender.

    People often talk about the banality of evil, how it exists every day in the world and how it looks a lot more like indifference than the kind of Darth Vader-y evil we expect. Evil in the real world? It's more about parents who are more worried about their kitchen appliances than their only child.

    KEVIN: Mom! Dad! It's evil! Don't touch it!

    You can't say he didn't warn them—and isn't it interesting that the piece of Evil shows up in the toaster oven Kevin's parents obsess about? It's almost as if their focus on stuff somehow drew that piece to them…

  • Foolishness and Folly

    DIANE: The Morrisons have got one that can do that in eight seconds. Block of ice to beef bourguignon in eight seconds. Lucky things.

    There are a lot of ripe idiots running around in this movie, but none are riper than Kevin's parents, whose goal in life seems to be to collect newer and increasingly elaborate kitchen appliances. Reach for the stars, you two.

    GAME SHOW HOST: Oh, dear me, Beryl. Now, all I want to what famous film star begins with "C"? Do you understand the question, my darling?

    Time Bandits points the finger at television as well. Take a look at the stupidest game show we've ever seen, for example. Does this thing even have rules?

    NAPOLEON: Little things hitting each other. THAT'S WHAT I LIKE!

    This man brought Europe to its knees, ruled over an empire as powerful as any on earth...and all he wants is a Punch and Judy show. Sometimes powerful men can be quite stupid.

    RANDALL: Do you want to be leader of this gang?

    STRUTTER: No, we agreed. No leader!

    RANDALL: Right. So shut up and do as I say.

    The dwarves never quite get their act together, and Randall sort of becomes Moe to the rest of the Three Stooges. He's the guy who thinks he's the smart one and just assumes they'll all fall in line, which kind of makes him the biggest idiot of the bunch.

    ROBIN HOOD: And you're a robber, too. How long have you been a robber?

    STRUTTER: Four foot one.

    ROBIN HOOD: Good lord! Jolly good! Four foot one? Well, th-th-th-that is a long time, isn't it?

    Robin Hood is intended as a poke at British royalty, the ones who go out and shake the hands of coal miners and factory workers and ask dithering questions that no normal person would ask. It's awkward and phony, and anyone who participates in it would have to be some kind of moron…

    ROBIN HOOD: Jolly good. What's your name?

    KEVIN: Uh, Ke—

    ROBIN HOOD: Ke. What a jolly nice name.

    Yep, he's not too bright, this one. Again, like Randall, you get the sense that the guy in charge is a pretty dim bulb himself.

    EVIL: Now we must bait the hook, see if they bite...and pull them in. Stand by for mind control.

    Oh, they're gonna bite. Greed, it seems, is one of the hallmarks of being a fool in this flick. Can't say we disagree…

    VINCENT: You've ruined everything! Pansy! Pansy, I can explain! It's only the thing on my nose and the hairpiece! Everything else is fine!

    With Vincent on the Titanic, there's a very straightforward question: is Vincent an idiot because he lies to the woman he loves, or is he an idiot simply for being in love? Frankly, it could be both.

    RANDALL: I've got something to say to you, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Go away.

    RANDALL: It's about the map.

    KEVIN: The map? I don't understand you, Randall. You've got something really brilliant like that, and you're just wasting it.

    RANDALL: I wouldn't call this exactly "wasting" it.

    Actually, Randall, you are so wasting it. How about heading into the future? Or back to see the Constitution being framed? Champagne and caviar are pretty small potatoes compared to that.

    EVIL: Robert, we must plan a new world together. This time, we'll start it properly. Tell me about computers.

    ROBERT: Uh, a computer is an automatic electronic apparatus for making calculations or controlling operations that are expressible in numerical or logical terms...

    Not even Evil is immune from the skewering Time Bandits gives to most of its characters. He has the same addiction to technology that Kevin's parents do...only this time with limitless power on his side.

  • Time

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

    PANSY: Oh...oh, and the personal problem?

    VINCENT: Oh, much, much better.

    Personal problems aside, Vincent is expressing one of the film's big themes: time is a prison, and the map provides an escape. Imagine if he could have gone back 12 years to be with his love.

    KEVIN: Do you know where we are?

    RANDALL: Of course I do...1796, Battle of Castiglione. See?

    STRUTTER: Are you sure we're not in somebody's bedroom?

    This is one of the points when a specific time is treated as a specific place, a destination instead of a state of being. Heavy. Question: is time a location? Better hit up some relativity theory to get the 411 on that.

    RANDALL: You see, to be quite frank, the fabric of the universe is far from perfect. It was a bit of a botched job. We only had seven days to make it.

    Even God has to bow to time, it seems. The creation of the universe itself was apparently a rush job. Well, that explains a lot, actually.

    KEVIN: I'll never get the chance to meet Robin Hood again.

    Here is Kevin being all wise and insightful again. Even with the ability to travel through time, you have to take advantage of your opportunities because they may never come around again.

    AGAMEMNON: Remind the queen that I still rule this city.

    This is a subtle reminder that the clock is ticking for everyone...and Agamemnon may not have nearly as much time as he thinks he does.

    KEVIN: The Time of Legends! There's no such thing.

    RANDALL: But there is. You just gotta believe in it.

    The Time of Legends is apparently somewhere unmoored from the rest of the timeline. It's a place where anything can happen...and again it emphasizes that time is really presented as a series of places.

    RANDALL: How could I know we were gonna run slap-bang into an iceberg? It didn't say "get off before the iceberg" on the ticket.

    Randall is making excuses here. You have a map that lets you travel through time, dude. And even if you didn't, it's the Titanic. Read a book sometime, Randall.

    EVIL: I have the map! I have the map! And the day after tomorrow, the world!

    Interesting that even with the map—which renders time infinite—Evil still has to wait until "the day after tomorrow" to begin his evil plan. This is a good time to note that in this movie, it's not how much time you have but what you do with it that counts.

    RANDALL: We just found the biggest hole in the universe, and it's practically below our feet!

    That hole really does open up the cosmos since our heroes can—and do—go anywhere in their quest to stop Evil from remaking the universe.

    KEVIN: Mom? Dad?

    Kevin has been returned to his time, without the map...and yet with his parents gone, all kinds of possibilities open up for him. Time, it seems, can give gifts even if you don't have a map full of shortcuts.

  • Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

    KEVIN: What are we going to do here?

    WALLY: A robbery.

    KEVIN: A robbery?

    FIDGIT: Of course. We're international criminals. We do robberies!

    This is the dwarves' big dream...and oddly enough, they don't even know it. They think they want to get rich but, in fact, they just want to be robbers, which isn't quite the same thing.

    NAPOLEON: Yeah, 5 foot 1 and conqueror of Italy. Not bad, huh?

    Napoleon is trying to prove himself to the world, and his conquest of Italy is just a reflection of that. His plans are coming true—though look at all the damage these plans are causing.

    RANDALL: Listen, I've got a few ideas for a link-up...between your gang and our gang, but I only want to talk to the boss.

    You haven't met the boss, have you, Randall? This is the first of many schemes that goes wrong for him—which is a pretty common fate among the various characters.

    EVIL: When I have the map, I will be free, and the world will be different because I have understanding.

    ROBERT: Uh, understanding of what, master?

    EVIL: Digital watches. And soon I shall have understanding of videocassette recorders and car telephones. And when I have understanding of them, I shall have understanding of computers. And when I have understanding of computers, I shall be the Supreme Being!

    Evil doesn't realize how much he's like the rest of the world he wants to remake. He's just trying to assert control of it, like Napoleon, Agamemnon, and the dwarves also attempt to do. But there really is no such thing as control here since the Supreme Being is all over that.

    OG: I've got an idea forming in my head.

    RANDALL: You haven't had an idea for thousands of years.

    OG: There is a place where we could find the greatest thing man could want, the goal of everybody's hopes and dreams.

    That's a pretty big order...and if you pay attention, you'll see that no one gets close to anything resembling his or her hopes and dreams in this movie. Their quest is probably doomed, though, of course, they're too greedy to notice.

    AGAMEMNON: I have decreed that this boy shall remain here with us in our city. Furthermore, he shall from this day forward be my own son...and heir to the throne of Mycenae.

    It's a nice thought, but it's not going to happen. In fact, if you're familiar with Agamemnon, you know that it probably wouldn't have worked out even if the dwarves hadn't showed up.

    KEVIN: Now all we need is the map.

    RANDALL: What? We don't need the map. We know where the time hole is. Let's get out of here.

    KEVIN: But Evil's got the map, Randall!

    RANDALL: Damn right he has. Last thing we want to do is see him again. Come on.

    KEVIN: But you can't leave it with him, or he'll destroy the world!

    At first, Randall wants to get a move on. They know where the hole is, so they don't need a map. And they sure don't need to run into Evil. With a nudge from Kevin, though, Randall will do the right thing. So now, we have a reversal: after trying and failing to fulfill their own plans, Kevin, Randall, and the other dwarves now have to ruin Evil's plans. Hey, if they can't have it, no one can, right?

    SUPREME BEING: I had to have some way of testing my handiwork. I think it turned out rather well. Don't you?

    KEVIN: Hmm?

    SUPREME BEING: Evil turned out rather well.

    Well, at least someone's plans have come to fruition—though considering the person in question is God, that doesn't help us mere mortals much. God's plans probably are always gonna trump everybody else's.

    KEVIN: You mean you let all those people die, just to test your creation?

    SUPREME BEING: Yes. You really are a clever boy.

    KEVIN: Why did they have to die?

    SUPREME BEING: You might as well say, "Why do we have to have evil?"

    RANDALL: Oh, we wouldn't dream of asking a question like that, sir.

    KEVIN: Yes. Why do we have to have evil?

    SUPREME BEING: Ah...I think it's something to do with free will.

    God's plans, of course, can't be defied, even though those plans often result in death or suffering. It's tough, but what are you gonna do? He's God.

    RANDALL: I, I was just wondering if there's, um, any chance we might have our old jobs back, sir.

    SUPREME BEING: Oh, you certainly were appallingly bad robbers.

    God is aware of their little plans, and as they say, when you plan, God laughs. It's a little mean to rub their noses in it, but on the other hand, these folks did almost turn the map over to Evil.

  • Versions of Reality

    WALLY: Where are we?

    RANDALL: I don't know.

    WALLY: Well, look at the map.

    RANDALL: It's not on the map.

    Kevin's bedroom is apparently a very special place if it's on the map or on the path of the map's route. In retrospect, it's most likely the case that God has given the dwarves a little push toward someone who could help them.

    RANDALL: We made trees and shrubs. We helped make all this.

    KEVIN: Whew! That's not bad.

    RANDALL: Yeah. But did we get a thimbleful of credit for it? No! All we got was the sack. Just for creating the Pink Bunkadoo.

    KEVIN: Pink Bunkadoo?

    RANDALL: Yeah. Beautiful tree, that was. Og designed it. Six hundred feet high, bright red, and smelled terrible.

    We're not sure where that Pink Bunkadoo is, but wherever it is, it's not in this reality—we can tell you that much. This conversation also suggests that creativity spawns its own version of reality.

    EVIL: If I were creating the world, I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, 8 o'clock, day one!

    Evil's reality certainly feels different from ours…or does it? Our obsession with gadgets and technology hasn't made us any happier. In fact, we might be a lot closer to Evil's reality than we'd like to think—something the movie pretty clearly warns us about.

    KEVIN: I must wait. You see, I'm with friends. You see, if I lose them, I may never be able to get back.

    AGAMEMNON: Get back? To where?

    KEVIN: I'm not really sure.

    This passage suggests that Kevin's old life may have been just as much of a different universe as the place he's occupying now. Reality is what you make of it, perhaps?

    RANDALL: The Time of Legends.

    KEVIN: The Time of Legends! There's no such thing.

    RANDALL: But there is. You just got to believe in it. Otherwise, Horseflesh wouldn't have put it on the map.

    Belief creating there's an interesting thought. Evil is planning to make it so, anyway, and so is God. God just wins out because he simply has more ammo in his corner, in terms of power.

    WINSTON: Look at all this bloody fish! There used to be a time when you could be sure...of catchin' old boots, cans, hat racks, boxes. Now it's prawns all the bloody time!

    Even though this happens in an entirely different version of reality, we love this line because the characters who live here still have day-to-day problems and complaints. Some things never change...

    GAME SHOW HOST: Here they come! So let's give 'em a big welcome! Trevor, Diane—oh, don't they look lovely!

    KEVIN: Mom! Dad!

    This is one of the most sinister parts of the film. We get the suggestion that Kevin's parents are as much a part of Evil's reality as Evil's scuttling minions. Why? Because they're materialistic, and that's something that is linked with Evil. Not exactly something to make Kevin sleep easier at night…

    WALLY: Fidgit, Fidgit's dead!

    SUPREME BEING: Dead? No excuse for laying off work.

    The Supreme Being can change reality as he wishes, which is one of the perks of the job. Note how he can alter reality here, but under the excuse that he's making his own plans happen (i.e., he doesn't want an employee slacking off). When reality is changed, he makes sure it's according to his rules.

    FIREMAN: You all right?

    KEVIN: Yeah. I think so.

    FIREMAN: You're a very lucky boy.

    Was it all a dream, or not? We'd say so, but with that fireman who looks a lot like Agamemnon, we can't be sure. Could it be a dream bleeding over into waking life? Or did Kevin really travel through time? There's evidence to back up either interpretation.