The Best Ever Feel Bad Movies - Time Bandits

Preston, England
December 3, 2016 4:30pm CST
Feel-Good movies are often promoted as films guaranteed to make us feel warm and happy after we have watched them. The poster will often say something like ‘we promise you that this is the feel-good movie of the year!’ We know in advance that the lovers will embrace, kiss, or marry in the final reel. A feel-bad movie often takes us by surprise though. We are not usually warned in the publicity trailers that the closing moments will be tragic and bleak. We knew Hamlet was going to be a tragedy because Shakespeare thoughtfully entitled it The Tragedy Of Hamlet, Prince Of Denmark, but Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits (1981) was promoted as a visually stunning fantasy comedy about magical dwarfs stealing treasure from Napoleon and having other madcap zany time-travelling adventures. For most of its length, the genuinely brilliant movie does what it says on the tin. The final moment therefore hits the unwary viewer in the face like a well-aimed brick. The build up to the big shock seems to make everything deceptively right after the story has taken a few dark detours. A dwarf apparently killed by the Great Evil (David Warner playing Satan brilliantly with a great line asking why God didn’t create microchip technology on day one of existence) is casually resurrected by the Supreme Being (Ralph Richardson as God). Evil is turned to a shattered heap of burning coals, with God instructing the heroes not to touch any part of him on pain of death. Kevin (Craig Warnock), the school-boy dragged along by the dwarfs on their wild journey through history and myth, is sent home by God, and ends up safely asleep in his bed. It should all now be joyous. After all, we’ve seen movies like this before. We know the rules. Like Dorothy returning from Oz to Kansas he’s surely going to find out that he was better off at home all along. Well no, not this time. Kevin wakes up to find out that his house is on fire. He is rescued from the blaze by a familiar figure, as the chief fireman (Sean Connery) looks just like King Agamemnon who he met on his ‘was it all just a dream?’ journey. As the fire-brigade prepare to leave, Kevin’s avaricious parents start looking what household appliances they have saved from the blaze. They find the salvaged bread toaster contains what looks like a piece of coal. Kevin warns them that it is concentrated evil, but they touch it anyway and instantly explode before the horrified boy’s eyes. The credits start rolling and leave the ten year old with no family and no home, stuck by the smouldering ruins with no place to go. After two hours of thrills and laughs, I found watching this ending just left me shell-shocked and wondering what the Hell had just happened. It also taught me to appreciate movies with such bold audacity for going against formula and cosy expectations. Time Bandits had an honesty lacking in many movies that bent life out of shape to make their endings saccharine sweet. Time Bandits taught me to really appreciate a good strong unhappy ending. Youtube clip from Time Bandits – The Great Evil pontificates on technology and slugs Arthur Chappell
6 people like this
4 responses
@JohnRoberts (59983)
• Los Angeles, California
4 Dec 16
I saw this movie so long ago that I honestly don't remember it. Terry Gilliam likes being trippy.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
5 Dec 16
@JohnRoberts but his films are all masterpieces
1 person likes this
@JohnRoberts (59983)
• Los Angeles, California
5 Dec 16
@arthurchappell Not really The Brothers Grimm.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
5 Dec 16
@JohnRoberts one I never saw - a lot of people hated The Fisher King but I love that movie
@Jessicalynnt (47895)
• Centralia, Missouri
6 Dec 16
this looks amusing, but, at the same time, I prefer better endings
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
6 Dec 16
@Jessicalynnt is is a great movie - not as bleak as Brazil, which has an even darker ending from the same director and Baron Munchausen is much happier
1 person likes this
@teamfreak16 (41175)
• Colorado Springs, Colorado
4 Dec 16
Love love love this movie!
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (109439)
• United States
3 Dec 16
Well that has to be one of the unhappiest endings of all time. The movie draws you in and then smashes all the feel-good in the end.
1 person likes this