Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Time Bandits is a Terry Gilliam children’s movie with grand spectacle, hilarious dialogue and an extremely dark that confused many audiences. But to understand the ending we must first look at the rest of movie and it’s themes. There seems to be four major themes: disappointment, romanticism, adventure/fantasy and consumerism. The film’s opening sets the tone and shows one of the main themes of the film: disappointment. The first scene opens with a special effect filled intro, implying something large and epic but only to land on a suburban house. We are then introduced to our protagonist and parents who seem to be infatuated with materialism. Our protagonist, Kevin, seems to be in love with history and disinterested in the present. Kevin goes to bed and can hear a distant fire truck siren.
He is then intruded by a band of dwarves running from “The Supreme Being”, who’s chasing these dwarves through rips in the fabric of time. Time Bandits’ then begins to show us historical figures that we’ve all seemed to glorify and the film disappoints us by showing us their personal problems. We also meet an important character at this point: Evil himself. But what is he after? Technology. That’s right, the physical manifestation of Evil’s goal is obtain the understanding of and use technology. Towards the end of the movie Kevin has a philosophical talk with the Supreme Being about Evil. The Supreme Being says he kills people just to test his creation.
Now, the infamous ending of the film: Kevin wakes up to find he is in a fire and the movie is assumed to have been a fantasy. That is, until Kevin’s parents touch the Evil in the microwave and explode. Many audiences were shocked and disturbed by this ending and felt it did not fit the rest of the movie, but looking back on the rest of the story there may be a greater explanation for Kevin’s “dream”. The movie is Kevin’s way of accepting his parent’s fate. His parent’s were killed in the fire caused by a microwave, ultimately killed by the only thing they cared about: technology. Kevin sees their obsession with technology as “Evil”. But what about the Supreme Being? He seems to treat life more like a business and his creations more like “toys” than actual people. Control in the hands of someone who’s not quite sure what he’s doing.
The only one who seems to be genuinely good in the movie is Agamemnon/the fireman. He is the only one who listens to young Kevin and even Kevin said that Agamemnon didn’t care about money. He seems to be the only glimmer of hope, one who winks in spite of tragedy. Ultimately the film is about the disappointment of reality and the escape of fantasy. Sometimes we don’t to search for the truth since ignorance will keep us blissfully joyful but sometimes even our fantasies can be disappointing. Time Bandits was Terry Gilliam’s way of saying, “not everything will be okay”.