Written by Terry Gilliam & Michael Palin
Directed by Terry Gilliam
Starring Craig Warnock, Sean Connery, David Warner, David Rappaport, Jack Purvis
- Running audio commentary by Gilliam, Palin, Warner and Warnock, with an appearance by John Cleese
- Scrapbook of behind-the-scenes photos, press images and posters
- Original theatrical trailer
Released by: The Criterion Collection.
My Advice: Own It.
[ad#longpost]Kevin (Warnock) is a child with imagination. While his parents (David Daker and Sheila Fearn) watch television and pine for the latest and greatest kitchen appliance, he reads. He dreams. He thinks he sees a knight on horseback come charging out of his wardrobe. But this is normal for a kid his age, right? Right. However, when a gang of six self-proclaimed international thieves using a map of the universe come out of his wardrobe, he quickly gets swept up in their mission: to steal as much stuff as they can all along the timestream without getting caught by their former boss, The Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson).
Ah, if only Gilliam would decide to do all the other genres and kick them in the ass like he did with the children’s fantasy genre. Inventive and out of control, Gilliam’s self-proclaimed chance to make a whole bunch of period films all at once delivers and does so splendidly. You get David Warner being his evil self, Sean Connery being an epic hero, and some of the Python crew showing up to do their thing as only they can. Robin Hood as the Duke of Kent, anyone? But the true standouts of the film are its stars, Craig Warnock and his six companions, led by David Rappaport as Randall. Long relegated to playing parts covered in fur or other strange contraptions, the six dimunitive thieves are simultaneously terrible creatures and yet wonderful heroes. It’s just a damn shame that three of the six are now lost to us.
As always, Criterion delivers–mostly in this case with a commentary by Gilliam and friends. Gilliam carries the brunt of the talking–no surprise there–but reveals some bits that even in my repeated viewings I had not caught. The way the creatures that Evil has with him are covered in plastic to preserve them…the way the entire film is shot from a kid’s eye view of the world, that sort of thing. But there’s other bits, too–it’s nice that they got Warnock to come in and explain what he remembers of the experience. Palin adds information from his end of things–the writing and how he came to play the part opposite Shelley Duvall, and John Cleese does offer some great insight into his particular interp of Robin Hood. A very worthy commentary, which finally put the ending into context for me–especially how children reacted to it, which is priceless all on its own.
The other two things the disc provides in the way of extras is an extremely bizarre trailer (and I thought trailers these days gave away the whole film–geez) and the scrapbook, which automatically progresses through a parade of promotional photos, behind the scenes shots, along with some sketches and storyboards.
A very worthy presentation of a very disturbed and fantastic film, fans of Gilliam should make this a no-brainer–but anyone really could use a dose of this film. Good children’s fantasy is hard to come by.