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The Cinema of Terry GilliamIt's a Mad World$
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Jeff Birkenstein, Anna Froula, and Karen Randell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231165358

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231165358.001.0001

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Divorced from Reality

Divorced from Reality

Time Bandits in Search of Fulfilment

(p.130) Chapter Ten Divorced from Reality
The Cinema of Terry Gilliam

Jeff Birkenstein

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyses Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981). The film tells the story of a boy named Kevin who has a rich, imaginative fantasy life. It frames Kevin's fantasy life and his encroaching transition to adulthood amidst the architecture of inattentive middle-class parents and suburban tedium. Time Bandits is therefore something of an anti-fairy tale, one that deconstructs the fairy tale promise of latter-twentieth-century middle-class suburban existence. It critiques suburbia at the expense of immature adults who, alienated from their own existence, are unable to imagine a life of substance, so incapable of living their own lives apart from desiring material goods. It also explores the disconnection between parent and child. Here it is not the child demanding the latest consumerist fad; rather, the child yearns for an idealised, idolised, and mythologised past of love, adventure, community, and, ultimately, of family.

Keywords:   Time Bandits, fantasy, anti-fairy tale, suburbia, immature adults, family, parent-child disconnection

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