“Anyone else irritated when a movie comes out on DVD three times and no one edition has all the available special features?” I asked when I reviewed Anchor Bay’s two-disc “Time Bandits” Special Edition in 2004. Change the middle part to “when a movie comes out on Blu-ray twice” and that’s the situation with Criterion’s new Blu-ray release of Terry Gilliam’s classic.
To be fair, this film has been released by various companies over the years, so Criterion would have to buy the rights to these supplements and those supplements to put together a definitive edition, which would be costly, but, gosh darn it, that’s what Kickstarter is for. (He said, tongue in cheek.)
If you want to know what I think of the film, you can read my previous review. A decade later, I would add this observation: “Time Bandits” has a wonderful, Zelig-like quality to be whatever you want it to be. Do the diminutive bandits represent the Pythons? Sure, probably, to some extent. Is the film a fairy tale disguised as a revisionist history lesson? Yes, you can see it that way. Does it offer a commentary on the ills of modern society? I think so, and its observations are even more relevant today. Is it a combination of all those things and more? Very likely.
Speaking of commentaries, Criterion kicks off the bonus features in this release by porting over the commentary track originally recorded for their earlier laserdisc and DVD releases of the film. It features Gillliam, co-writer and star Michael Palin, John Cleese, Craig Warnock (Kevin), and David Warner (Evil Genius), but they were recorded separately, so there’s no back-and-forth between them. The final product is a bit dry, but it offers a lot of good information about the making of the movie.
Gilliam discusses his life and career in an 80-minute interview from the 1998 Midnight Sun Film Festival in Finland, and Shelley Duvall discusses her role in a nine-minute interview with Tom Snyder from NBC’s “Tomorrow” show in 1981. The only new item is a 23-minute piece about the set and costume designs, with interviews with production designer Milly Burns and costume designer James Acheson.
A stills gallery and the trailer round out the extras, and the typical Criterion booklet is replaced by a fold-out of the Map of the Universe, with an essay by film scholar David Sterritt on the other side.
If you have that previous two-disc Special Edition from Anchor Bay, you’ll want to hold onto it since none of its supplements are found in that release. (That may also be the case with some of the other “Time Bandits” releases, but I’m only familiar with the Anchor Bay Special Edition.)