Study Guide

Time Bandits

Time Bandits Summary

Lonely child and future history buff Kevin awakens one night to find a knight on horseback exploding through his closet. The next night, following the "pics or it didn't happen" philosophy, he stays up and waits with his camera to capture evidence, only to find a six-pack of steampunk dwarves sneaking their way out of his closet. The dwarves used to work for God, designing trees and shrubs, until they decided they'd rather steal the Supreme Being's map of the universe and use it to travel through time committing robberies.

The Supreme Being comes hot on the heels of the dwarves, forcing them to find an impromptu exit. (Kevin's bedroom wall apparently hides a massive tunnel behind it.) They take Kevin along with them. The tunnel opens into blackness, and they all go tumbling through it...only to land in late 18th-century Italy in the midst of Napoleon's semi-successful conquer-the-world tour.

After confessing to Kevin that they're actually international criminals, the dwarves land themselves a sweet gig as Napoleon's generals, get him drunk, rob him blind, and escape through a nearby time hole that the map conveniently reveals to them. They end up in the Middle Ages, with a giant pile of swag and an airtight alibi: the guy they robbed won't be born for centuries.

Of course, the dwarves promptly lose all the moolah when Robin Hood shows up and gives it out to the poor. Kevin tells them that they're wasting the map on their attempts to get rich when they could be using it to explore the universe.

Unfortunately, Kevin is not the only one with ideas on how the map should be used. From his prison in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness, Evil plots to steal the map and use it to remake the universe the way he wants it—with lots of machines and accounting ledgers. He plants an idea in the dwarves' heads about the Most Fabulous Object in the World...conveniently located in his fortress.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Being shows up again, and Kevin takes off down another time hole, losing track of the dwarves in the interim. He lands in ancient Greece, in front of a bull-headed man getting ready to take down a helmeted warrior. The warrior takes advantage of the distraction to land a killing blow, then removes his helmet to reveal that he's King Agamemnon—a king who bears a suspicious resemblance to a well-known super spy.

  

Agamemnon takes Kevin back to his city and spends the next few days and weeks with him before deciding that the boy is super awesome and would make a great son. He announces that Kevin will be his heir at a massive shindig that is infiltrated by the dwarves, who again rip off everything in sight and pull Kevin with them down another time hole.

They land on the deck of a ship in the early 20th century and use their loot to buy first-class accommodations. Kevin and Randall have it out—Kevin really wanted to stay in Greece—but Randall points out that the Most Fabulous Object in the World is close. It's somewhere known as the Time of Legends.

Our heroes are interrupted again by an event of some small significance. It turns out the ship they're on is the Titanic, and Kevin and the dwarves soon find themselves floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean after a certain iceberg collision. Evil seizes the opportunity to pull them into the Time of Legends—and into another ocean, where they're landed by an ogre named Winston, who fully intends to eat them. Kevin suggests they trick the ogre and his wife, and dump them overboard. They do, and they set sail for the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness.

Or, they would do that, if the ship wasn't actually just a hat worn by a large and apparently amphibious giant who strides out of the ocean onto the shore, stomping on a seaside house along the way. Once again, Kevin figures out a plan: he inundates the giant's head with a sleeping potion, which allows the band to escape.

Our heroes make their way across the desert before bonking into an invisible barrier, which prompts a new round of squabbling from the dwarves and a hurled skull that shatters the barrier, revealing the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. In they go...only to be scooped up by Evil, who nabs the map and puts them all into a hanging cage.

Kevin, who took a picture of the map back in the Middle Ages, spots a time hole in the fortress, which gives the band an escape route. Kevin stays behind to steal back the map while the dwarves head through the time hole for help.

An intense game of cat and mouse follows, but Kevin manages to delay Evil long enough for the dwarves to return, complete with a gaggle of knights, cowboys, Greek archers, tanks, and spaceships to take down the bad guy.

Unfortunately, Evil doesn't die so easily. After dispatching the assembled forces and killing one of the dwarves for good measure, he prepares to blast Kevin and his friends into oblivion. But the Supreme Being arrives again, turning Evil into a statue and shattering him.

The dwarves try to apologize for running off with the Supreme Being's map, but he's distracted and grumpy. Apparently, the entire affair was engineered as a test for Evil, and the Supreme Being is happy with the result. He orders the dwarves to clean up the shattered pieces of Evil, then returns to "creation" with them, leaving Kevin behind.

Unfortunately, they miss a small piece of Evil, and it billows smoke into the chamber…

…returning Kevin to his bedroom. His house is ablaze. A fireman—who bears a suspicious resemblance to Agamemnon—crashes down the door and carries the kid to safety, while his parents fret about the toaster. Kevin thinks it's all a dream until he looks in his satchel and finds the pictures he took.

And then, his parents discover the cause of the fire to be the piece of Evil that was left behind. They grab it and immediately explode, leaving Kevin surprised and alone as the fire truck drives away.

We know, weird, huh? This did come from the boys at Monty Python.

  • Scene 1

    Scene 1

    • From the vast reaches of the universe, we pull into a modern home somewhere in Great Britain: plastic on the furniture, conversations concerning the efficiency of household appliances…a real drag.
    • Kevin (Craig Warnock)—who seems a lot more interesting than his parents—interrupts the suburban zombies who spawned him with fascinating historical facts from a book.
    • Kevin is promptly sent to bed for the effort.
    • Kevin is settling into dutiful sleep when a knight on horseback bursts out of his closet and gallops away through a portal in the wall.
    • Kevin gets right up to investigate the wall, now suddenly back to normal...because he's not insane and would like to know how, exactly, a knight on horseback ended up in his closet.
    • The commotion wasn't missed by his dad, who promptly enters the room to yell at Kevin to keep it down.
  • Scene 2

    Scene 2

    • We get another small moment of family bonding the next morning, as Kevin's parents fuss over the faulty kitchen appliances and ignore their son.
    • Kevin is desperate to be excused to go to bed to wait for another phenomenon.
    • Kevin eventually gets his wish; this time, he is armed with a flashlight and a Polaroid camera.
    • No knight arrives, and Kevin slips into sleep as his parents head off to bed.
    • The wardrobe opens as six little people emerge.
    • Kevin turns on his flashlight, causing pandemonium among the little men.
    • The little men's leader, Randall (David Rappaport), steps up to explain—to someone who is clearly not Kevin, someone they are clearly rather scared of.
    • When Kevin speaks up, he is savaged by the little men for not being whoever this other person is.
    • Randall starts giving orders, and a confused Kevin watches as the other dwarves start pushing against his bedroom wall.
    • The wall gives way, and Kevin watches as his room transforms into a long corridor.
    • A giant light appears from the opposite end of the room, and an enormous head warns them all of danger.
    • Kevin runs down the corridor behind the dwarves as the wall disappears and they're thrown into oblivion.
  • Scene 3

    Scene 3

    • The group lands in a farmyard, and Randall does a roll call to ensure that they are all intact.
    • Kevin makes a run for it. Unfortunately, he runs right into an advancing army and a band of fleeing peasants who urge him to join them as they flee Napoleon.
    • Kevin decides to wander right into the heart of the conflict to get a good look, when the dwarves appear at his side again.
    • The little men also plan to walk right into the heart of the conflict.
    • As they all sneak into the city through a canal, the six explain that they are criminals who plan to commit a robbery as the city falls into turmoil.
    • The group finds Napoleon (Ian Holm) siting at the theater and taking great delight in the Punch and Judy show on stage.
    • Napoleon's commanders comfort his fragile ego until a stray bullet kills the puppeteer…which sometimes happens in a war.
    • The frantic stage manager (Charles McKeown) rushes to find another act to replace the puppet show. Napoleon is not amused by the cavalcade of pathetic performers until the six little men emerge and interrupt the stage manager's plan to kill himself.
    • The six step out onto the stage and sing a very bad version of "Me and My Shadow."
    • The performance quickly devolves into a vicious slap fight, which seems to be a regular thing for these guys.
    • The stage manager decides that suicide is best until Napoleon walks backstage to congratulate all on their marvelous performances.
    • Napoleon is thrilled with the little men and dismisses his generals—who keep blathering on about accepting surrender and other non-entertaining things—replacing them with Kevin and the dwarves.
  • Scene 4

    Scene 4

    • Kevin and the dwarves sit at a decadent table filled with wine and food, surrounded by the riches of the city.
    • Napoleon carries on about his miseries and insecurities—lots of musings about great conquerors of history and how short they all were—as he drinks himself into a nice blackout.
    • The dwarves, adorned in the fineries of French generals, start nabbing the treasures surrounding the table.
    • One of the dwarves, Strutter (Malcolm Dixon), checks the way out—a hole in time and space—before he returns to fetch his comrades in arms.
    • The real generals, shivering in their Underoos, try to stop the escaping thieves but to no avail. They slip into the portal.
  • Scene 5

    Scene 5

    • A noble couple, Vincent and Pansy (Michael Palin and Shelley Duvall), discusses their odd problems—and love for each other—just before the gang suddenly materializes in their carriage.
    • The dwarves celebrate their first great heist while the nobles flee, leaving another nice stash of riches to add to the victory pile.
    • Kevin is shocked to discover that the group's status as international criminals is a new thing.
    • The men like Kevin and ask if he'd like to join them. Randall then begins to explain their predicament.
    • The six seem to be angels of sorts—scruffy, short, wingless angels who act as low-level employees of the Supreme Being.
    • The men were sent to the repairs department—armed with a map depicting all of creation—to fix those time holes (the portals that let them move through time and space). In an act of rebellion, they decided to steal the map for themselves and get rich with it.
    • Kevin takes a picture of the six with the map to commemorate their success.
    • A scream bellows through the forest. The men are thrilled to find thugs robbing Vincent and Pansy.
    • The men decide to follow...right into a trap.
    • The thugs and Randall have a sweet moment of shared interests before they are released. Randall insists on seeing their boss.
    • Back at their camp, Kevin is quite impressed to meet the boss: Robin Hood (John Cleese).
    • Mr. Hood introduces himself to the gang and gladly accepts the generous donation of their riches for the poor—despite the fact that they never said he could have it.
    • Robin Hood offers Kevin a place in his gang, but things aren't exactly going according to plan, and the six dwarves grab Kevin and depart, leaving their riches behind.
  • Scene 6

    Scene 6

    • The six argue about their failed endeavors and the mess they've gotten themselves into...but someone is watching.
    • Evil (David Warner) watches and plots from his prison in the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness, where the Supreme Being has placed him.
    • Evil's toadies make some bad word choices, and he responds by blowing them up.
    • Evil is very excited that the six are carrying the map, which could allow him to remake the universe if he could get his hands on it.
    • Evil sets to controlling the weakest mind among the dwarves: Og (Mike Edmonds), the quiet one.
    • Og, under the control of Ultimate Evil, tells the band what they should do to find the Most Fabulous Object in the World.
    • Kevin questions the plan, and Evil loses his grip on the gang.
    • The Supreme Being appears in an underlit floating head form.
    • Kevin flees, and in the confusion, he goes through the wrong time hole.
  • Scene 7

    Scene 7

    • An ancient warrior battles a half-man, half-bull monster amid desert ruins.
    • Kevin falls from the sky directly onto the monster, allowing the warrior to hurl a broken spear into its belly and slay it.
    • The warrior (Sean Connery) thinks that surely the gods have sent the boy.
    • Kevin wants to wait for his friends, but he has second thoughts when the warrior heads off.
    • Kevin and the warrior arrive at a great ancient city, greeted with gifts and cheers from the people within.
    • The warrior is King Agamemnon. His queen is most upset with them; she's staring daggers at both of them from a distance.
    • The king delights Kevin by teaching him magic tricks and talking with him the way a real parent would.
    • Kevin takes pictures of all the wonderful things in the city; he wants to stay, but the king hasn't decided yet.
    • One morning, Kevin is snatched from his bed by masked men. They lead him, blindfolded, to a horse.
    • Kevin rides through the streets to a room full of people.
    • Party time. Agamemnon is throwing a shindig to announce that he is adopting this strange boy who saved his life.
    • Masked performers enter the room to sing and dance.
    • Suddenly, the performers split in half: it's the dwarves, to the "rescue."
    • The dwarves rob Agamemnon blind and congratulate Kevin on his involvement, despite the fact that Kevin doesn't want to leave.
    • The gang absconds with Kevin, and they all disappear into yet another hole, leaving Agamemnon and his court perplexed.
  • Scene 8

    Scene 8

    • Reincarnation has a sense of humor: Vincent and Pansy are now in new bodies on a large ship at sea.
    • Again, the interactions between the two are rudely interrupted by the downpour of tiny men.
    • The gang has finally made it: with their stolen gold, they buy first-class tickets, champagne, and caviar.
    • Kevin isn't happy about being pulled away from King Agamemnon.
    • Randall reaches out to Kevin and shares his new plan with him: he wants the Most Fabulous Object in the World, hidden in the Time of Legends.
    • The tender moment is interrupted by disaster. Sadly, our heroes are on the Titanic, which has kept its appointment with the iceberg.
    • The gang finds itself floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
    • Randall explains to everyone that they must believe to open the next hole.
    • Evil gladly opens a portal to his realm, the Time of Legends.
  • Scene 9

    Scene 9

    • They plummet into another ocean and are quickly captured by a monstrous ogre and his doting wife (Peter Vaughan and Katherine Helmond), who plan to make a meal of them.
    • Our heroes outwit their captors easily and throw them overboard, sailing the ship into oblivion.
    • The ship soon strikes something solid. Unfortunately, that solid thing is the head of a giant who has just found himself a nice, new hat during his swim.
    • The giant emerges onto land, stepping on a fishing hut where a couple of...things are engaged in a seemingly normal domestic squabble.
    • With a bit of ingenuity, the gang concocts a sleeping draught from the apothecary supplies available in the galley and quickly administers it directly onto the giant's scalp.
    • The giant is good enough to remove his hat before he settles into a good, long nap, allowing the group to escape yet again.
    • Our heroes walk through a vast desert until an invisible barrier halts them in their tracks.
    • Randall is elated, declaring that they have finally arrived at the Fortress of Ultimate Darkness. A little spat and a well-placed hurtling skull break the barrier.
    • The group wanders into Evil's trap.
  • Scene 10

    Scene 10

    • When Evil reveals the Most Fabulous Object in the World, Kevin knows that it's a trap. It looks just like the kitchen appliances on the game show his parents watch...complete with his parents enticing them all on.
    • The dwarves don't listen and instead dash with great speed toward their doom.
    • Evil takes the map from Randall's hands and imprisons them all in a large iron cage suspended over a black abyss.
    • Kevin looks through his photos and realizes that one of the photos has a very clear image of the map.
    • There is a gigantic hole in the universe just below.
    • Our heroes get to work escaping, and they free themselves in short order.
    • Finally free, they decide to get going, but Kevin points out that if they leave the map with Evil, he will destroy the world.
    • Evil is indeed a man with a plan: he waxes rhapsodic on his grand plan for creation while the gang figures out what to do next.
    • Og successfully grabs the map, but Evil catches him during his escape and transforms him into a pig-headed man.
    • Kevin has a plan: he and Og will distract Evil while the others go find help to defeat him.
    • Like all great villains, Evil just can't help but monologue.
    • At Kevin's goading, Evil destroys all of his own minions and then uses the distraction to take back the map.
    • Evil is just about to destroy Kevin when Strutter appears with a bevy of knights.
    • The other dwarves appear with cowboys, Greek archers, a rocket ship armed with a laser, and Randall piloting a tank.
  • Scene 11

    Scene 11

    • One by one, the forces brought by the dwarves attack Evil.
    • One by one, Evil defeats them: first the cowboys, then the archers, then the knights.
    • Randall and Wally (Jack Purvis) attack, but Evil—with his interest in technology—easily takes control of their vehicles.
    • One of the other dwarves, Fidgit (Kenny Baker), sadly gets caught in the crossfire and is crushed beneath a falling column.
    • All seems lost, and Evil gets ready to destroy them all...until a massive explosion turns Evil into stone.
    • The Supreme Being appears, rather matter-of-factly, before taking the form of a befuddled old man in a suit (Ralph Richardson).
    • The Supreme Being restores Fidgit to life and commands the other dwarves to tidy up the place.
    • Randall apologizes for stealing the map, but it was clearly all part of the plan: a plan to test Evil.
    • Kevin is quite bothered that so many had to die to prove the Supreme Being's point, but he dismisses Kevin's concerns with some vague words about free will.
    • The statue of Evil explodes, leaving Evil fragments everywhere, which the dwarves scurry to pick up.
    • The dwarves miss one hidden piece.
    • Fidgit tries to take Kevin with them, but the Supreme Being departs with the six, leaving Kevin alone as smoke from the lost piece of Evil billows into the room.
    • Kevin wakes in his bed; his house is on fire.
    • Kevin is pulled to safety by a nice fireman...who looks a lot like Agamemnon.
    • Kevin's parents try to get into the house to save the toaster but show no concern for Kevin's safety.
    • The fire department salvages the toaster that caused the fire, and it has a tiny gift inside: the missing piece of Evil.
    • Kevin tells his parents not to touch it. Naturally, they ignore him...and are instantly vaporized by the piece.
    • The fireman winks at Kevin, then drives away, leaving him alone in the rubble of his house.
    • We pull back into the cosmos until we see the map, rolled up by the Supreme Being and removed.
    • Roll credits.